The History and Luxury of Mechanical Watches

The History and Luxury of Mechanical Watches

There is something special about having a watch that is as beautiful as it is functional. Mechanical watches have a well-earned reputation for combining engineering genius with classic aesthetics, making every wearer proud of their timepiece. Purchasing a mechanical watch is an investment in your punctuality and style.


The History of Mechanical Watches

Mechanical watches were the original personal watches that were developed. First came spring-powered clocks in the 15th century, but mechanical watches that could be carried around with a person were developed in Europe in the 17th century.

In 1510, clockmaker Peter Henlein invented the Nuremberg Egg, a spring-driven clock worn on a necklace that was more of a fashion piece than an accurate timekeeper. Over the next several centuries, scientists and watchmakers continued to improve the design of personal timepieces to improve their accuracy and utility.

For much of this time, most personal mechanical watches were pocket watches. This changed in World War I when wristwatches gained popularity with soldiers who needed quick access to accurate time during trench warfare. It wasn’t long after the war that accurate mechanical watches worn on the wrist became a regular accessory for men and women everywhere.


How Mechanical Watches Work

Mechanical watches were developed before batteries and electronics were invented, and all the movements in these watches happen through precise movements caused by harnessed tension. Knowing the anatomy of a watch is helpful in understanding the pieces used to tell time.

In mechanical watches, these pieces include:

  • Mainspring
  • Crown assembly
  • Gear train
  • Escapement mechanism
  • Motion works


The mainspring makes the whole watch work. When it is tightly wound, the mainspring stores energy and that energy is moved to the gear train. The escapement mechanism controls the flow of energy so that the mainspring does not release its power at one time. As the energy moves through the watch, the motion works to move the visible hands, keeping time for the wearer.


The Benefits of Mechanical Watches

More than simple time-telling devices, mechanical watches are beautiful displays of artistry and engineering that impress anyone who sees them. Luxury watch designers like Grand Seiko and Hamilton have embraced the mechanical watch design for years and continue to develop new watches in this style.

One of the benefits of mechanical watches is the feel and look of a classic watch. Many people like the aesthetic of a mechanical watch, and the complexity of some of these timepieces is distinctly impressive. The Breitling Premier B15 Duograph 42, for example, is a gorgeous timepiece that is mechanically complex with a chronograph rattrapante, one of the most elaborate watch complications ever developed.

Mechanical watches also last longer than other types of watches. As a result, many mechanical watches are passed down through generations as striking heirlooms for families to cherish.


Mechanical Watches v. Automatic Watches

Mechanical and automatic watches work in very similar ways, but automatic watches have a self-winding mechanism so that the wearer does not have to keep the mainspring wound for the watch to work. Automatic watches have a freely rotating metal weight that keeps the mainspring coiled. This weight, called a rotor, spins in reaction to the wearer’s movement. While this means the owner does not have to manually wind their watch all the time, an automatic watch could lose power if left off for too long and will need to be wound manually.

Because of the rotor, automatic watches are typically thicker and heavier than classic mechanical watches. Many people like the daily ritual and classic design of mechanical watches more than their automatic counterparts. Personal preference and how features are prioritized weigh heavily on the decision between the two kinds of watches.


Giving a Mechanical Watch as a Gift

Watches are a classic jewelry gift, and mechanical watches can show someone how much love or pride you have in them. Because of the respect mechanical watches demand, these make great gifts for major life occasions.

Some reasons to give a mechanical watch as a gift include:

  • Celebrating a graduation
  • Commemorating a promotion
  • Sharing your love for someone


You may decide to give your husband a gold mechanical watch for your first anniversary or honor a significant birthday with an heirloom timepiece. The possibilities are endless when considering mechanical watches as significant gifts.


A Few of Our Favorite Mechanical Watches

One thing we love about mechanical watches is that they honor the past in both design and mechanics. The Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer Watch is a stunning timepiece that is inspired by the Model 23 pocket watch used by soldiers in World War II, and the look and feel of this mechanical watch remind the wearer of the proud history represented.

Mechanical watches can also have a modern look while still honoring historical achievements. The Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional is a variation of one of the world’s most iconic timepieces, used by astronauts as a part of all six moon landings.

For a clean look, the Grand Seiko Heritage Watch delivers a mechanical timepiece with a classic face and elegant band. The crisp aesthetic is indicative of Grand Seiko’s style, bringing luxury and sophistication to its owner.


Do Mechanical Watches Need Regular Maintenance?

Mechanical watches have many small parts that need to be checked — and repaired, if necessary — by a trained and certified professional. While mechanical watches do not need maintenance as often battery-powered watches, experts recommend getting your watch fully serviced every three to five years. This complete watch servicing will allow a trained repair specialist to identify any issues before they become severe enough to destroy your watch.

Your local Fink’s Jewelers can take care of the intricate mechanical watch maintenance as well as adding or removing watch links, replacing bracelets or straps, repairing watch covers, and more.

With proper maintenance, mechanical watches can last for generations. Take care to keep your watch cleaned and quickly repaired if needed, and you will have it for years to come.

Mechanical watches are sound investments in style and luxury. Everyone needs a watch, so use your timepiece as a symbol of class and taste as you wind your way to elegance.