What Are Manual Mechanical Watches and How Do They Work?

Manual or hand-wound mechanical watches are watches are something of a legacy to the history of watchmaking these days, but are still popular in certain circles. In order to keep them going you have to wind by hand daily or every time the power reserve is down. The winding is done by turning the crown (the button used for resetting the watch).

How Hand Wound Watches Work

Turning the crown winds the mainspring. The mainspring stores the energy generated by the winding by getting tighter and tighter. When fully wound, the watch now has enough energy to run for a day or two or more depending on its power reserve. The mainspring slowly unwinds releasing the store energy in order to power the watch. The gear train transfers this energy to the escapement. The escapement transfers the energy into the regulated parts dividing time into equal parts. The balance wheel uses this regulated energy to beat back and forth or oscillate at a constant rate transferring energy to the hands and causing them to move and tell time. These are the old school in terms of watchmaking. No fancy digital parts or smart trackers like Samsung or Fossil watches, just good old fashioned, honed for hundreds of years, engineering.

Power Reserve Indicator

Power reserve refers to how long a watch can store energy and continue operating before it needs winding. Power reserve for hand wound mechanical watches varies from 24 hours to five days plus. The power reserve indicator displays how long the watch will continue running before it needs winding again.

Hand Wound Watches for Women vs. Automatic Mechanical Timepieces

Both are mechanical movements only that manual is hand wound manually while automatic has a self-winding mechanism. This way, a manual watch is more demanding in maintenance than an automatic watch. The parts and operations are the same except that an automatic also has a metal weight known as a rotor which rotates when the wearer’s arms move and winds the mainspring eliminating the need for winding by hand.

Mechanical movements are the traditional mechanisms for time keeping. They are centuries old. The use of automatic mechanical movements in wrist watches started and gained popularity in the 19th century. Most modern mechanical watches are automatic with self-winding mechanisms while manual mechanical movements are found in conservative collectibles and expensive luxury watches.

Complex complications such as perpetual calendars, moon phase, and tourbillon watches have automatic movements. Hand wind watches usually have simple complications such as day and date and simple chronograph functions. As women’s appreciation for watches goes up, the demand for ladies watches with mechanical movements is also going up. Mechanical watches are what ladies want. Beautiful automatic and hand wind mechanical timepieces designed just for them.