Mechanical and Automatic Watches: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to the fundamentals of watches, there are very few differences between mechanical, or hand-wound watches, and automatic watches. Both models are mechanical in the respect that they consist of a number of moving parts and no not require the use of a battery. However, there are a number of models which rely on kinetic energy, physical movement which converts itself into electricity, in order to function. This can be confusing to some as kinetic energy utilized in watches is not the same as the normal kinetic energy that we are aware of. However, kinetic energy can be an important aspect of a watch, especially when you are trying to differentiate between which types of watches are mechanical, and which are automatic.

In regards to automatic watches, if it is constantly worn throughout the day and left static during rest periods, i.e: sleep, the watch will remain at full wind state during the time the wearer needs it most, which is during the day. At times of rest when the watch is not being worn, the watch will begin to wind down but even after 8 hours of no-wear, the watch will still be within the lower portion of power. On the flip-side, a mechanical watch will begin winding down and if wound during the morning, will lie within the second third of the power curve come evening.

Nowadays, automatic watches are preferred for a number of reasons which stem further than the improved accuracy of time and the convenience of being automatic. Advances in technology have helped to develop specialized automatic watches, for example diver’s watches, within which the crown does not require much manipulation. As a result, the seal of the crown experiences less wear, making it less vulnerable to leaking when used in the water. Thanks to the implementation of kinetic energy, any energy created is stored within the mainspring of the watch, meaning that the wearer will always have a watch that is ready and it also eliminates the risk of the watch running out of power at crucial moments.

Accuracy is everything- especially in regards to diver’s watches, but there are a number of factors which can greatly affect the accuracy of either a mechanical or automatic watch. In regards to a mechanical watch, if it is wound only once within a 24 hour time period, then it is likely that its accuracy will vary in comparison to an automatic watch. However, if the wearer is knowledgeable in the ins and outs of his watch, he would be able to keep the watches mainspring in a narrow range and potentially pull out the auto-wind. If an automatic watch is left to run right down to the end of its wind, it will display the same inaccuracies as a mechanical watch that has not been wound enough. Gravity can also play a major part in the accuracies of a watch, in particular, the way the watch is stored in between wears can generate micro-gravitational pull on the oscillating wheel which can cause a watch’s speed to increase or decrease over a period of time.

Although their different names may cause one to think differently, the only true difference between mechanical and automatic watch has more to do with their appearance rather than their function. With automatic watches being typically technological in design, mechanical watches have remained almost timeless and vintage in appearance which has helped them to remain a favorite with many watch wearers. However, either type of watch will last the distance for the wearer so long as it is provided with the correct level of care it requires.

Source by Jason Kay

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