There are two main categories of watches in watchmaking: mechanical watches and quartz watches. Mechanical watches foperate thanks to the energy supplied by a spring wound in a barrel andcan be manually or automatically wound. In this article, we will explain to you what are the specificities, the commonalities and the differences between a manual winding mechanical watch and an automatic mechanical watch.
- Difference between automatic winding and manual winding
- The components of a mechanical watch
- How a mechanical watch works
1. Mechanical watches: automatic winding versus manual winding
Mechanical watches are very popular with watch connoisseurs and collectors who particularly appreciate the beauty and complexity of their movement. These are watches that operate solely on mechanical energy. There are no electronic components there, unlike watches that run on batteries, also calledquartz watches.
Among them, a distinction is made between manually wound watches and those with automatic winding.
- For those with manual winding, you will have to manually wind your watch by turning the crown of your watch.
- For those with automatic winding, the watch will recharge "automatically" when you wear the watch thanks to the energy that you will create with your wrist.
2. The components of a mechanical watch
To fully understand how a mechanical watch, whether manual or automatic, works, you must first learn about its main components.
Here are the main components of a mechanical watch:
- The crown :This is the small wheel located on the right side of your watch. It is attached to the winding shaft and is used to wind the mainspring.
- The mainspring:It is an elastic band of steel that provides the energy necessary for movement when it is armed, that is, stretched.
- The transmission system (cog):It transmits the energy stored in the barrel spring to the escapement wheel via a series of small wheels.
- Exhaust wheel:its function is to release the energy conveyed by the cogs to the anchor, intermittently and regularly. This is the watch's maintenance organ.
- The balance:This is the heart of the movement. It beats between 5 and 10 times per second in a circular fashion. It is he who is responsible for the "ticking" noise produced by the paddles on the teeth of the escapement wheel due to its back and forth movement. It is the regulating organ of movement.
- Rubies:They are very hard stones that reduce friction and wear on the components of the mechanism.
- The rotor:Clearly it is a semi-circle shaped weight attached to the movement. It rotates 360 ° according to the movements of the wrist and allows the barrel spring to "tighten", thus providing mechanical energy to the watch. So if a mechanical watch does not include automatic winding, it does not include a rotor. The barrel spring is "wound" or manually re-tensioned using the crown.
3. How a mechanical watch works
Now that you are fully familiar with the main components of mechanical movement, we will explain how they work.
Here are the six main steps to better understand how the hands of your mechanical watch tell the time:
- If it is an automatic watch: Wrist movements turn the rotor and thus wind the mainspring. If it is a non-automatic mechanical watch, winding is done by turning the crown;
- The transmission system transfers energy to the escape wheel;
- The exhaust doses the energy in regular sections;
- The pendulum uses this regular energy to beat back and forth constantly;
- With each series of beats, a series of wheels transfer energy to the hands of the clock;
- The hands advance on the dial.
An automatic watch has a nice aesthetic advantage. This is because the seconds hand does not jump a second but many more small jumps. Everything is more fluid and aesthetic.