Everything You Need to Know About Mechanical Watches
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As popular as they have become, there is nothing beautiful about a smartwatch. You might also make the same claim about a digital watch. Neither of these show off the true artistry of watchmaking. Only mechanical timepieces truly show how beautiful an intricate series of gears, balance wheels and jewels come together to keep accurate time. 

It is highly unlikely that today’s modern watches (both smartwatches and digital types) except maybe for exclusive devices, will ever be more than museum pieces in the future, unlike mechanical watches that can boast of a thriving market for antique, classic, vintage and retro pieces. 

What is it about mechanical watches that make them so attractive and desirable?

What is a Mechanical Watch?

This term is applied to any timepiece that is not powered by a battery movement or quartz movement. They can be divided into two categories based on the type of movement:

  • Automatic watches – powered by movements of the wrist that makes a rotor rotate
  • Manual winding watches – where you turn a wheel to get the movement started

How Do They Work? 

Mechanical watches are built to rely on a series of intricate mechanical movements that measure and display accurate time. These watches commonly consist of a mainspring, an escapement mechanism, gears and a balance wheel.

The mainspring serves as the energy source, producing energy that is gradually released in order to power the watch’s movement and achieve the precise time. The gear train works to transmit the needed energy, with the escapement mechanism controlling the release of energy to help regulate the accuracy of the timepiece.

The balance wheel oscillates in a back-and-forth motion, creating that distinctive, hypnotic ticking sound that we all love to hear.

Types Of Mechanical Movements

There are two primary kinds of mechanical watch movements. These are:

  • Manual Winding

Manual watches require manual winding by the turning of the crown component. As you wind the screw-down crown, what you are doing is tightening up the mainspring, storing up potential energy that will then be used to power the watch until it needs to be wound up again. In general, a delicate device manual winding watch will need to be wound up every couple of days to keep it in the best working order.

  • Automatic (Self Winding Mechanism)

An automatic timepiece is a watch that features a rotor that winds up the mainspring automatically using the natural motion of the wrist of the wearer. The rotor spins along with the movement of your arm, and this transfers the needed energy to the mainspring. It is worth noting that most entry-level automatic watch brands and self-winding watch models can still be wound up manually by the winding crown if they have not been worn for a while and need kick-starting.

What Are The Advantages Of Mechanical Watches?

There are plenty of advantages to a mechanical watch with an automatic movement.

  • Craftsmanship And Heritage

Mechanical watches are among the most highly regarded when it comes to attention to detail and masterful craftsmanship in the jewelry world. They commonly feature amazingly intricate designs with plenty of hand-finished components that are considered to be close to works of art. A mechanical watch is not just a cool piece of jewelry, but also the amount of work and artistry that has gone into its creation.  

  • Longevity

With proper care and (proper winding at regular intervals if you have a manual watch) intervals, there is no reason that a mechanical energy watch cannot last for many generations. You will often find that these kinds of watches are passed through the years as family heirlooms, with some amazing examples of pocket watches and wristwatches from the 18th century, 19 century and 20th century in just as good condition as any made in more recent years.

  • Appreciation And Connection

Becoming the owner and wearer of a mechanical watch is something that can create a connection between you as an enthusiast and the deeper, richer art of horology. This is something that can be achieved when you find the perfect watch for you.

  • No Battery Dependency

Unlike cheap quartz watches (such as those made by the popular Swatch Group) that rely on quartz crystal and batteries in order to function, you never have to worry about a mechanical watch ‘running out’ of power at work or during a special occasion. Timepieces with automatic watch movements don’t have to rely on an external power source, making them more desirable. 


Mechanical watches are generally not as accurate as quartz watches which are powered and regulated by batteries and electronic parts.

Quartz watches have a tighter accuracy range in general, but with high-end mechanical watches with Swiss movements, great levels of accuracy can still be achieved by brands such as Rolex, Patek Philippe and Breitling. The deviations might only be a few seconds per day.


It seems a funny word to use because it implies a degree of negativity but in the world of mechanical watches, a complication is an asset. Other than dress watches that are purely for timekeeping and decoration, many modern mechanical wristwatches boast additional functions – these are known as complications.

Common types of complications appear in dive watches and sports watches. Features include water-resistant cases, perpetual calendars, annual calendar, a stopwatch function, dual time zone timekeeping,  displays of the phases of the moon, power reserve indicators, and more.

Added complications enhance not only the functionality of a watch but also impact the price tag. As you move up through the price points, you will notice that the pricier watches offer more additional complications.


Mechanical watches require regular maintenance to retain their functionality and extend their longevity. In general, it is recommended that an automatic watch service is performed once every three to five years.

During this maintenance check, your watchmaker will usually clean and lubricate all of the tiny pieces of the movements, check and adjust the watch’s accuracy and inspect for any common issues that need to be addressed.

Value And Investment

Mechanical watches that come from the most reputable brands, brands that have a rich history in the industry, are almost guaranteed to be able to hold their value well over a long period of time and even appreciate in value.

There are always certain limited editions and vintage watches that will become very highly desired and sought after by collectors all over the globe, and this makes them ideal potential investment pieces for the future.

This being said, we don’t recommend making any automatic watch purchase based purely on how much you might be able to get for it years down the line. Enjoy it for the exquisite piece of engineering that it is, rather than the future fortune that it could potentially be.

Price Range

Mechanical watches span the whole range of different prices in the watch world. The most basic entry-level affordable watches can be purchased for as little as a few hundred dollars, but it won’t surprise you to learn that the most high-end luxury brands and models can hit pricing levels in the tens of thousands.

The cost of a watch in question will depend on a number of different factors including the brand, the additional complications, types of uncommon or common watch materials used (for example is it stainless steel or a precious metal), water resistance rating, whether or not any precious stones are included (either as jewels in the movement or as adornments (e.g. diamonds set into the dial or case) and the levels of craftsmanship that have been involved in the creation of the timepiece.

What Brands Are The Most Popular?

It is always good to know what names you should be looking at when it comes to making a sensible purchase decision. If you have the money to spend, then you absolutely cannot go wrong with any of these names for their unique design style, brand history and heritage and overall reputation.

If all of this information has whet your appetite for exploring what the world of mechanical watches might have in store for you, then browse the watches for sale on Sell Me Watch. There’s a wide range of watches encompassing all of the different levels of quality and cost that we have mentioned in this article. We are confident that you will find a timepiece that you absolutely fall in love with.