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Mechanical and Quartz Watch Distinctions
Mechanical and quartz watches function differently, but each offers its own benefits and experience for the wearer.
A mechanical watch is powered solely by a mainspring. Assembled from hundreds of parts, a watch’s movement is sometimes called the ‘heart’ of the watch. In a hand-wound mechanical watch, the heart beats when the mainspring is hand wound at the crown, giving it a unique, human-like quality. This is different compared to a self-winding mechanical watch, where the mainspring is wound by the wearer’s arm movement.
Craftsmanship and long-lasting reliability are the marks of a mechanical watch. They can last many years with proper care, making each one an ideal heirloom that can be passed down and cherished for several generations.
There are three distinct types of quartz watches, but each is powered by an automatically moving battery. An analog quartz is the same as a mechanical watch in that it has gears to transmit power, but it is battery-powered and oscillates using a quartz crystal to maintain precision. A digital quartz watch uses an electronic circuit instead of gears for movement. And a solar quartz watch uses battery power from various light sources, which is charged in the solar cell underneath the dial. These can be analog or digital, and are defined by being either battery- or solar-powered.
How Mechanical Watches Function
Ideal for everyday use or special events, hand-wound mechanical watches start working immediately after winding, and work best when wound at the same time each day.
Hand-wound mechanical watches have three main parts that determine movement. The first part, the mainspring, is responsible for power and is wound up by turning the crown slowly and carefully. Hand-winding energy is stored in the mainspring of the winding wheel and is transferred to the second part, the gear wheels, that transmit power and move the watch hands. That same energy is then converted from rotary to reciprocating motion by the escapement, which is the mechanism responsible for transferring energy. At the same time, power is applied to the third part, the balance wheel, for continuing the reciprocating motion. The balance wheel oscillates back and forth to maintain precision. Time accuracy is kept by the hairspring, which is the precise adjusted balance. The hands attached to each train wheel to indicate the time of day.
Self-wound mechanical watches, also known as automatic, are ideal for the busy everyday wearer who doesn’t want to worry about hand winding. The watch continues to move as long as it is on the wearer’s arm. It should be worn for at least eight hours at a stretch to provide the most accurate time, and can last about 40 hours on their own without being worn.1
Self-wound mechanical watches have three main parts that determine their movement. The first is a semi-circular part called the rotor, which is held in place by a ball bearing that rotates to wind the mainspring through the wearer’s wrist motion. The second part is the eccentric pin, which uses gravity to turn on a pivot and causes the rotor to swing. The force of the rotor movement is then transferred to the third part, the ratchet, which is a winding mechanism that is attached to the rest of the components. The ratchet also makes a self-wound mechanical watch bulkier to wear than a hand-wound watch, as it is considered an extra mechanism.2
Mechanical Watch Advantages
As economical and environmentally-friendly products, mechanical watches do not use electricity, and its parts are made of natural materials.* Therefore, it is a true ecological product.
Because of their quality and beauty, mechanical watches have a prestigious reputation—they have historically been associated with affluence, good taste and culture.
A mechanical watch stops when taken off, or when it is not worn for a long time. This helps preserve energy and prevents the gears from wearing out. With regular maintenance and care, a mechanical watch is a lasting investment that can be passed down through generations.