In the world of watches, there is generally considered to be two main watch styles: the readily available and relatively inexpensive battery-powered quartz watches, and the less ubiquitous, more highly regarded mechanical watches, the latter of which we're concerning ourselves with today. Scroll on for everything you need to know about mechanical watches, including five of our top buys for 2021.
What exactly is a mechanical watch?
Mechanical watches measure time using a clockwork mechanism hinged on a mainspring, which powers the function of the watch hands and the complications. They can be subdivided into automatic watches – with a rotor that harnesses kinetic energy and rotates when your wrist moves, powering the watch – and manual-wound watches – which require winding by hand.
Generally, manual-wound watches are considered the most desirable of the two styles, due to their historical significance and the ritual involved in periodically winding them. However, this usually means significantly steeper prices and reduced convenience, so unless you're a hardcore watch aficionado, an automatic mechanical watch should satisfy you perfectly.
Why should you buy a mechanical watch?
Whether you opt for an automatic mechanical watch or a manual-wound one, you can be guaranteed a truly special timepiece with a complex human element. While a battery-powered quartz watch may offer perfect precision, a mechanical watch is a more complicated piece of machinery, requiring hours of painstaking labour to craft. It harks back to a simpler time – when things were made more slowly and carefully – and serves as a reminder of the 20th century watchmaking tradition.
All of this isn't to mention the enhanced durability of mechanical watches in contrast to quartz watches. When serviced, a mechanical watch can continue to work in perfect order for centuries, something that quartz watches simply can't achieve. This makes for a possession that will stand the test of time and serve as a cherished heirloom to be passed down through generations.
5 mechanical watches to buy in 2021
NOMOS Glashütte Ludwig Automatic
Equipped with the NOMOS automatic calibre DUW 5001, this classic timepiece from renowned German watchmakers NOMOS Glashütte ticks with outstanding winding accuracy. A 40-millimetre diameter lends it a sense of understated confidence, making it an ideal dress watch.
BALTIC Watches Aquascaphe
The Aquascaphe is BALTIC Watches' classic divers watch. With a double-domed sapphire glass, it's waterproof, scratch-resistant and shockproof. It also happens to look the part: inspired by divers watches of the mid-20th century, it fuses a timeless aesthetic with the top notch contemporary functionality of an automatic Miyota 9039 movement.
AVI-8 Black Arrows Avon Automatic Watch
Drawing inspiration from the world of aviation, AVI-8 creates watches that pay tribute to courageous airmen. The Black Arrows Avon Automatic honours the renowned pilots who flew Hunters, taking takes design cues from the Hunter's engine and cockpit to result in a mesmerising, multi-layered dial.
Junghans Max Bill Handaufzug
This manual-wound watch from Junghans exudes historical charm. Originally designed by Max Bill in 1961, it remains practically unchanged – from the traditional dial with the specially designed, distinctly rounded numerals, to the domed sapphire crystal. This is a watch that has stood the test of time and will continue to do so for decades to come.
SEIKO 5 Sports SRPG65K1
This limited edition SEIKO 5 Sports model was designed in collaboration with renowned Japanese graphic designer GUCCIMAZE. The dial and bezel are decorated with original graphics made by deconstructing and reconstructing the SEIKO letters, resulting in a multi-dimensional feel and truly unique look.