Understand the Classification of the Mechanical Watch

July 6th, 2018

If you’ve read our post on what the mechanical watch is, you’d remember the key features that make this watch type a preferred one. This post is set to help you understand the classification of the mechanical watch – automatic and manual – and how their differences account for the choices watch lovers make.

Mechanical Watch

The Swiss Mechanical Movement

Seeking to understand the mechanical watch requires a careful breakdown of the Swiss mechanical movement. Unlike the Japanese quartz movement that uses battery as its source of power, the Swiss mechanical movement draws energy from a mainspring. With the aid of a barrel, the watch can receive energy from the gear train and mainspring.

If you check out watches by manufacturers such as Breitling, Omega, Patek Philippe, and Rolex especially, you’d find that detailed attention is given to the mechanical watch movement through proper in-house testing. Many of these watches are treasured for their steadfast performance and innovative technology.

Classification of the Mechanical Watch

The mechanical watch is spilt into two – the manual movement and the automatic movement. As the name implies, the manual movement is designed such that the watch wearer winds the external crown of the watch while the crown then winds the internal mainspring.

In the automatic movement though, the natural movement of the wearer’s wrist winds rotor which then winds the mainspring, causing the watch to receive energy.

Classification of the Mechanical Watch

The Manual Watch

Using the traditional winding process, mechanical watches receive energy from the mainspring through the winding of the crown. In order to preserve the energy in the watch, the wearer has to wind the crown every day. And this can last for up to two days.

The process looks like this: wearer winds crown – crown winds mainspring – mainspring sends energy to gear train via an escapement – balance wheel receives energy – dial train receives energy from balance wheel – watch hands move.

You’ll agree that this is a complex system, and it was commonplace until 1932 when the self-winding mechanical watches were introduced. Before then though, wearers often depended on skill and knowledge to keep their watches working. More so, the manual mechanical watch has remained the best luxury watch of all times. And this is because the expertise and labor that go into its design cannot be understated or compared with that of the quartz watch.


The Automatic Watch

The automatic mechanical watch uses a mechanical movement that allows it to be called self-winding. As the watch wearer’s wrist moves, the internal rotor in the watch winds the mainspring and the entire watch therefore gets powered.

The automatic watch is a popular choice among watch enthusiasts because it relieves them of the stress of winding on a daily basis. Plus, it reduces the wear and tear which the gear parts are prone to. Owners of automatic watches often prefer to purchase a watch winder, since it makes the winding process a lot easier.

Even though about 90% of watches around the world use the quartz movement, the automatic and manual watches are the most-valued classification of the mechanical watch. Hence, irrespective of which watch you choose, be prepared to care for your watch so that it lasts for many years.(You may also want to know:11 Different Types of Watches You Should Know).