Patek Philippe
6月 2021

Mechanical Watches: how do they work?

How do mechanical watches work? What mechanisms move all of a watch’s gears to ensure it keeps time perfectly? Today, we’re finding out more about the mechanisms that enable this sort of timepiece to move. However, we will first explain the difference between a mechanical watch, a quartz watch, and an automatic watch.

The differences between mechanical, quartz, and automatic watches

The difference between a mechanical watch and other watches is very simple. A quartz watch, with hands that tick, is battery-powered. The hands of a mechanical watch, on the other hand, move uniformly, and this type requires manual winding to work; as such, we’re talking about manual winding watches. An automatic watch uses the kinetic energy released by its wearer’s natural movements (though we should say that, in many cases, automatic watches have manual winding, as well).

Mechanical Watches: how do they work?
Mechanical Watches: how do they work?

Mechanical watch: how it works

In order to truly understand how a mechanical watch works, we would need an entire book. The movement of the gears and springs, the study of tolerances, the minimal movements – beyond mechanics, there is an art behind these timepieces.
However, we will try to keep things easy. Mechanical watch wearers should turn the side crown several times to generate the energy needed. This way, the loaded spring will release energy over time, slowly unwinding to activate all of the gears connected to it as well as the additional springs: one after the other, these pieces control and advance the hands.
Depending on the mechanics and pieces used, the winding intervals – that is, the running capability between charges – vary from 24 hours to 5 or 6 days. Plus, the charm of a mechanical watch is often the very fact that it needs to be rewound when you wear it.

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