Mr Mark Jessen

A Beginners Guide to Mechanical Watches | Man of Many

The terms ‘hairspring’, ‘balance wheel’ and ‘jewels’ will be well known to seasoned watch-lovers but most mechanical watch wearers won’t have a clue what they are or how they work. Each of these is vital in the accurate operation of a mechanical watch movement, the engine that powers the watch. These components are all machined with astounding precision to the decimal fraction of a millimetre. They combine to deliver the time accurate to within a few seconds each day.

1. Mechanical precision

All mechanical watches require some human handiwork to be completed (with the exception of the Swatch Sistem51, which is an achievement in itself). Mechanical watch movements are made with sometimes over a thousand tiny pieces that need to be arranged to power a series of complications (functions other than the time). The timekeeping “tick-a-tick-a-tick” of each mechanical watch movement is individually adjusted by turning a few screws by the smallest of measures by a skilled technician to make it as accurate as it can be.

2. Craftsmanship

Many will regard the wearing of mechanical watches as an anachronism, an activity that should have disappeared long ago. But therein lies another reason in and of itself to wear a mechanical watch, they’re old-fashioned. When technology today is almost by definition powered by electricity and more and more is made of it being “connected”, the mechanical watch stands as a symbol of old-school values. Other objects that share this symbolism would be vinyl records or a handmade suit.

3. History

Mechanical watches can be expensive and less useful than their alternatives. Which brings us to the topic of a mechanical watch as a luxury product and status symbol. Put simply, the ability and the will to buy a luxury (mechanical) watch which is arguably less useful than a common quartz alternative is a clear symbol of the wearer’s financial means and by extension, status.

4. Luxury and a symbol of status

There are thousands of wristwatches out there for any consumer to choose to buy. Of those, you will on any given day choose to wear just one, based on some of the things mentioned above but ultimately because you like a particular watch. In the wider context of attire and personal belongings, wristwatches are a discreet and tasteful way of expressing your personality. This is particularly true for men who are limited to a suit and tie in their daily costume.

5. Self Expression

In the past, some companies gave employees who had served for a long time a gold watch. Even now some family cultures feature the gifting of a watch when a person reaches a level of adulthood, usually graduating from high school or college. More and more jewellery boutiques are marketing wristwatches as an analogue to wedding rings for men (though it isn’t clear if this has had much success). Among watch enthusiasts, any life milestone is worthy of purchasing a watch.

6. Sentimentality

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