As a person forays into watch collecting and begins to do some research on their own, they often come to an idea that leaves them dumbfounded at first: quartz watches are typically more precise than mechanical watches, yet mechanical watches are significantly more expensive. At that point, they think they’re being played as fools by Swiss watchmakers who are trying to sell them a Rolex or Patek Philippe for thousands of dollars when they can buy a Seiko that keeps time more accurately for almost a tenth of the price. Well, the truth is it’s not that simple and a bit more research is required to understand why mechanical watches are worth as much as they are. Here, our experts at SellMeWatch.com give a rundown on the differences between the two types of watches and untangle the truth about why mechanical watches are so much more expensive.
Let’s begin with a quartz watch, which is battery operated and as the name suggests, contains a tiny quartz crystal inside the watch. The battery sends an electric current through an electronic circuit to the quartz, making the crystal oscillate (move back and forth) at a very precise frequency. The circuit counts the amount of oscillations per second and based on that generates an electric pulse that turns the watches hands, creating an incredibly accurate watch. When quartz watches were introduced in the 1960s, there was panic from Swiss watchmakers who feared quartz watches would make their mechanical watches seem outdated and impractical. After all, quartz watches were more accurate, required less care, and also cost a lot less to manufacture.
Despite the accuracy and low cost of a quartz watch, however, there is something special about crafting watches in the same way watchmakers have done for hundreds of years that have kept mechanical watches highly sought after pieces. A complicated mechanical watch is a display of extraordinary craftsmanship, one that is extremely hard to come by in today’s age of mass produced goods. When compared to a quartz that takes minutes to manufacture, a mechanical watch can take weeks, months, and even years to craft. Watch experts spend countless hours assembling the complications delicately by hand, interconnecting anywhere between 50 to 500 parts together.
So while mechanical watches may be slightly less accurate than quartz watches, each one is a handcrafted horological masterpiece that requires highly specialized artisanship, a quality extremely difficult to come by today. The high price you pay for a luxury mechanical watch isn’t for pinpoint accuracy, but rather the time and energy spent by a master watchmaker handcrafting and assembling the hundreds of different parts in the watch in the same way they have done for centuries, with the goal of crafting the best watch possible. This is the reason that luxury watch collectors dish out huge sums of money for to own a luxury mechanical watch, and will continue to do so even after the next big technological innovation because in the end, there simply isn’t a price you can put on quality and craftsmanship.