Mechanical Vs Automatic Watch – What’s The Difference?

Today, we are going to talk about the differences between a mechanical vs an automatic watch. This is yet another one of those topics that can definitely cause quite a bit of confusion. This type of terminology a lot of times can be very misleading.

This is especially true when it comes to people who are not familiar with the different watch types that are out there. Add to that the fact that some people use these terms improperly, and it’s easy to understand how things can quickly become difficult to understand.

In this article, the goal is to make it perfectly clear what a mechanical and automatic watch are. To begin with, let’s start with the main thing you need to know here. An automatic watch is a type of mechanical watch. More specifically, an automatic watch is a self winding mechanical watch.

So, there you have it! An automatic watch is a self winding mechanical watch. If you already know what that is, then you pretty much got what you needed out of this article. If, however, you are unsure of what a self winding watch is, or you just want more information, then read on!

There is a good bit of information to cover, but we will start with a thorough explanation of a self winding watch.

What Is a Self Winding Watch?

mechanical vs automatic self winding watch

Originally, there were only hand wound mechanical watches. These types of watches are commonly called manual watches. It was much later on, that self winding, or automatic watches were invented.

A self winding watch is pretty much self explanatory. It is a mechanical watch, that winds on its own. Basically, what this means is that, you do not have to manually wind this type of watch. This type of watch is also commonly referred to as an automatic watch. So, the next question then is, how does it work?

Well, mechanical watches are powered by a large spring called a mainspring. This spring, once wound, will slowly start to unwind. It is this gradual unwinding of the mainspring that moves the gears to power the watch. In a traditional mechanical watch, you would wind the watch manually using the crown.

In an automatic watch, you do not need to do this. Instead, it is wound by the natural movements of a person’s arm. An automatic watch has a mainspring just like any other mechanical watch.

The difference here is that an automatic watch has a weighted rotor inside of it. When a person swings their arms in natural movements, this spins the weighted rotor, which in turn, winds the watch. This is how automatic watches get the label “self winding”.

Do You Need to Wind an Automatic Watch?

Even though automatic watches wind on their own, there is usually the option of manually winding it as well. Additionally, many automatic watches also feature a “power reserve” feature. The power reserve refers to the amount of time the watch can run before it once again needs to be wound. However, if an automatic watch is worn frequently enough it may never have any need for this.

Now that we have these explanations out of the way, we can go into a little more detail about this topic. For instance, mechanical watches were being made before automatic watches came to be. You may find it interesting to know when automatic watches hit the scene!

Mechanical Vs Automatic Watch: The Origins of The Automatic Watch

Mechanical watches have been around since the 1500’s. Automatic watches, on the other hand, weren’t invented until the 1700’s. They were invented around 1777 by a Swiss watch maker named Abraham-Louis Perrelet.

Now, even though this was the first instance of automatic watches, they didn’t actually become mainstream until around 1928. This was due to the actions of an English watchmaker named John Hardwood. Hardwood actually created his own automatic watch movements which he patented in 1923. His so called “bumper watches” boasted a 12 hour energy reserve.

He began mass producing these automatic watches. From there, other companies followed, and automatic watches became a staple of the market. Not only that, but Swiss watchmakers refined automatic movements into their luxury watches. You saw watches such as the Rolex Oyster Perpetual come out around this time.

Once the Swiss started mass producing automatic movements, their automatic watches became the subject of much worldwide recognition and prestige.

Now that leads us to the next point. In the modern era of digital and smartwatches, where do automatic watches fit in?

Automatic Watches in The Digital Era

mechanical vs automatic digital

Times have now changed. The world has changed. We now have digital and smartwatches everywhere you look. You would think that mechanical automatic watches would be outdated by now, right? In a sense, this is true.

However, in modern times, the purpose of automatic watches is now more about style and admiration of craftsmanship than anything. This is especially true when it comes to Swiss luxury watches.

These luxury automatic watches are praised for their sometimes extremely complex movements. For those that appreciate these mechanisms, as well as the quality of the movements, there will always be a place for automatic watches in the market.

Finally, for the sake of keeping this post short, we can start wrapping things up.

Mechanical Vs Automatic Watch: Final Thoughts

The information provided here should be enough to pretty much clear up any confusion about the differences, or lack thereof between a mechanical Vs an automatic watch.

This is a watch type that has been around for many, years, and by the looks of things, will continue to be around for quite some time. As long as there are people that appreciate the style and craftsmanship of mechanical watches, we will always have automatic watches.

That concludes this brief but thorough look into mechanical automatic watches. Hopefully this information has been both helpful and informative. If you enjoyed this article, then we have many other informative articles which can be found here

Additionally, we have more articles where we compare different watch types and other info. Those can be found here

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