Automatic watches are a staple for luxury brands all over the world. It doesn’t need any batteries to keep functioning. But what makes these types of watches tick? How can said timepieces run forever? Let’s find out.
Mechanical or Automatic?
Mechanical watches have been around since the 15th century. Unlike the automatic wristwatches we enjoy today, mechanical watches are hand-wound and would stop working after a couple of days. The earliest iteration of mechanical clocks was so big, they had to be worn around your belt and could only measure time by the hour. Subsequent centuries would improve its accuracy and its size. Mechanical watches would see mass production during the 19th and 20th centuries during the first world war. Predominantly used by women in war offices to keep time, it was later used by soldiers due to its accuracy.
In 1924, John Harwood filed a patent for the first automatic wristwatch. He brought automatic watches to the forefront as the more convenient alternative to the mechanical watch. The key difference was automatic watches do not need hand winding to keep it going, it has an oscillating weight that would wind the watch’s springs in response to the wearer’s kinetic energy. To further simplify this piece of information, the simple act of moving while wearing the watch winds its springs to keep it going without manual winding.
As a rule of thumb, all automatic watches are mechanical, but not all mechanical watches are automatic. These watches start with a tightly coiled flat spring. Without anything to control its movement, the spring would unspool immediately. However, this unspooling spring would feed into a series of slowly turning gears that mimics the exact interval of each second. And lastly, jeweled bearings within the watch protect it from unwanted vibrations and other motions which would otherwise damage or morph its internal components. In addition, automatic watches have a pendulum-like component that provides kinetic energy to wind the mainspring thus making mechanical winding unnecessary.
Pros and Cons
Debates on whether automatic or mechanical watches are better to have gone on a long time ago and would most likely not end soon. But to put into perspective here are a few pros and cons of bot types
- Longevity if properly cared for
- Elegant machinery that stood the test of time
- Needs daily winding
- Loses its accuracy over time
- More sensitive than quartz watches
- Cheaper and easier to maintain than mechanical watches
- Smooth second-hand movement
- Will need rewounding if not worn long enough
- Needs specialized equipment (like watch winders) to keep it from stopping
We believe that both types are both equal in value. Watches have made strides in history that cannot be mistaken, watches like Seiko have stood the test of time, even making their signature time pieces for well over one hundred and twenty years. As human beings, our time here in this world is very precious. Why not keep it as accurate and as luxurious as we can with these types of watches?