What is a Watches Mechanical Movement?

Published on Wednesday 16th of March 2022
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Invented in the 16th century, the mechanical watch has been admired and sought after for its beauty and craftsmanship of the intricate movement.

The watch movement or calibre is often considered as the heart of a watch, powering all of the functions and movements of the watch including the chronograph, alarms and any complications. The movement is made up of a collection of intertwined springs, coils and gears that work together beautifully to turn energy into precise regulated movements.

There are 2 main types of mechanical watches; manual and automatic.

Omega Manual Wind Mechanical MovementOmega Manual Wind Mechanical Movement

A manual watch requires the wearer to wind the watch using a crown or key to manually wind the watch to power the system in order for it to work. This is the most traditional and oldest form of a watch movement, loved and enjoyed by many for the expert craftsmanship involved to make one. Many of these have a clear case back so the wearer can enjoy and see the intricate beauty within.

An automatic watch is similar to a manual watch in many ways, but has a few important and distinguished differences. An automatic watch can wind itself and maintain energy when being worn through the kinetic energy of movement, meaning if the watch is worn regularly it should not need winding. Automatic watches are often larger in size than a manual watch due to the additional parts they require to function.
Omega Automatic Movement
Omega Automatic Movement


Both automatic and manual watches do not require a battery to work and both use kinetic energy instead. A manual watch requires a daily wind of the crown to input the energy into the movement whereas an automatic one uses the kinetic energy of movement to move a weight which in turn powers the coils and springs. However the energy is put into the watch, either through movement or winding the crown, the power is then transferred through the mainspring and into the cogs and gears and changed into the precise movements we see through the movement of the watches hands.

Mechanical watches, whether automatic or mechanical use kinetic energy to run as appose to a battery as in Quartz watches. Usually turning the crown will produce energy by winding the mainspring, the tighter the spring gets the more energy is stored. The energy is stored by the spring being tightened and is released through a series of gears and springs to power the watch, known as the gear train. To ensure the watches precise increments the escapement controls the release of energy, this is what gives the distinctive ticking noise. Further to this the balance wheel allows the movement to keep regular times through regular oscillations. These should be calibrated and require a skillful adjustment to ensure they run efficiently. Following this the gears move the dial train but which receives the energy from the balance wheel and transfers it to the watches hands at the correct intervals. This allows the watch to display the correct time. Automatic watches work much in the same way, however they have an additional component that allows the user to wind the watch through their movement. To do this a automatic watch has a rotor (weights) that spin freely inside the watch each time the user moves. This motion is then transferred into winding the mainspring.

Mechanical watches are built with high levels of craftsmanship and engineering, therefore if the watches are properly maintained then they will last a lifetime without batteries. This does mean that they watches should be serviced regularly (following your watch manufacturers guidelines), they are kept clean and in proper storage, which could include a watch winder if you choose, or at least wound or worn regularly. Which will allows the fluids and oils from inside the watch to keep all of the mechanism lubricated and prevent it from coagulating. 


Reasons to buy a mechanical watch

  • No batteries, meaning if you look after your watch you should never worry about losing track of time.
  • Built to last, mechanical watches are made to withstand the test of time and will last a lifetime with the proper care and maintenance.
  • Mechanical movements are a thing of beauty and there to be enjoyed.


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