A Guide to Mechanical Timepieces

A mechanical watch is a watch that uses a clockwork mechanism to measure the passage of time, as opposed to quartz watches which function electronically via a small battery, or radio watches, which are quartz watches synchronized to an atomic clock via radio waves.

The Basics Components of a Mechanical Watch

A mechanical watch is driven by a mainspring which must be wound either periodically by hand or via a self-winding mechanism. Its force is transmitted through a series of gears to power the balance wheel, a weighted wheel which oscillates back and forth at a constant rate. A device called an escapement releases the watch's wheels to move forward a small amount with each swing of the balance wheel, moving the watch's hands forward at a constant rate. The escapement is what makes the 'ticking' sound which is heard in an operating mechanical watch. Mechanical watches evolved in Europe in the 17th century from spring powered clocks, which appeared in the 15th century.

Guide to Mechanical Watches

Accuracy of Mechanical Watches

Mechanical watches are typically not as accurate as quartz watches, and they require periodic cleaning and calibration by a skilled watchmaker. Since the 1970s, quartz watches have taken over most of the watch market, and mechanical watches are now mostly a high-end product, purchased for their aesthetic and luxury values, for appreciation of their fine craftsmanship,or as a status symbol.

"You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation."
Patek Philippe S.A.

Top Mechanical Watch Brands

Top mechanical watches that are deemed collectibles can fetch millions of dollars at auctions. The following list is a non-comprehensive list of some of the most revered mechanical watch brands. This list is presented in no particular order. As you can see from the list, Swiss manufacturers have historically dominated mechanical watch making.

Watchmaker - An art and science

The Final Word

There are hundreds of different mechanical watches from the best luxury watch brands. Finding just one perfect watch is never easy and different models speak to the wearer for different reasons. The most important thing when getting a mechanical watch is whether or not you like the timepiece. It's a piece of art, so not every watch out there is right for you. Follow your heart, not the market.

Available at Perpetual & Co Watches

Exceptional timepieces are now available for sale at Perpetual & Co Watches. Visit our Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Richard Mille, Rolex, A. Lange & Sohne and Vacheron Constantin collections to order your perfect watch today.

Tim Coatney
CEO - Perpetual & Co Watches

Perpetual & Co Watches
Perpetual & Co Watches

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