Technology That Transcends Time: Mechanical Watch Movement

May 23, 2018

What is Mechanical Movement?

As we have previously discussed, a watch’s movement is the part of the timepiece that makes it “go.” The key component of a mechanical movement is called the mainspring, which is a spring that gradually unwinds to release energy, thus propelling the watch hands. Because the coil of the mainspring relies on energy transmitted by winding the crown, manual mechanical watches must be physically wound on occasion. However, automatic mechanical movements — such as that found in Hook+Gaff’s flagship mechanical watch, the Fleetmaster (pictured below)— do exist and are highly sought-after. The automatic mechanical feature winds the watch automatically via a rotor that’s powered by the movement of your wrist — like magic! And in case the watch doesn’t move for awhile — say you leave it on your dresser for a week — there is a manual wind function on it as well.

fleetmaster - mechanical movement


The History of Mechanical Movement

Mechanical watch movements represent the way watches were made since back in the earliest days of the craft. The first efforts to create an automatic, or “self-winding,” watch were made in the 1770s by a Swiss watchmaker named Abraham-Louis Perrelet. He developed a system that worked for pocket watches, and eventually the technology was put to use for the (arguably) more practical wristwatch. It’s pretty cool to think about a technology that transcends time and trends; modern engineering has streamlined many aspects of the watchmaking process, but the approach remains the same — even after nearly 300 years.


Quartz vs. Mechanical Movement

The biggest difference between quartz and mechanical movement is that quartz movement functions electronically, while mechanical movement is driven by the kinetic energy released by the mainspring. So, mechanical watches must be “wound” — either manually or automatically via the wrist’s movements.

On the other hand, quartz watches use a battery as their primary power source. To create power in a watch with quartz movement, the battery sends an electrical current through a small quartz crystal, which electrifies the crystal and creates subsequent vibrations. These small vibrations keep the movement oscillating, which in turn drives the motor to move the watch hands. Today, quartz watches account for about 90% of the world’s watches.


Why are Mechanical Watches More Expensive?

Mechanical watches can be thousands of dollars more than a quartz movement watch, but not entirely without reason. From a technical perspective, they are more complicated with more going on and more moving parts — literally — than quartz watches. The generally higher price point of mechanical — especially automatic mechanical — watches is a reflection of the level of quality and craftsmanship that comprise them. Thousands upon thousands of labor and skill hours have gone into the technology behind these watches. In a way, the mechanical movement watch recognizes the long and winding history of watchmaking — pun intended. They are a representation of the tradition associated with the wristwatch and the detail-obsessed people it attracts.

Much like a music lover will seek out favorite records on vinyl, watch aficionados appreciate the sense of authenticity and heritage in a mechanical movement watch. And, with the Hook+Gaff Fleetmaster watch, you get all the benefits and legacy of mechanical movement as well as the modern convenience of automatic winding. Plus, Hook+Gaff’s watches are every bit as functional as they are stylish. The Fleetmaster features left-side crown placement to eliminate wrist discomfort — ideal for the active outdoorsman. With an anti-reflective, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal face and water resistance up to 200 meters, this luxury watch isn’t just for showing off around town. And, the GMT (dual-time reading) feature allows you to keep track of multiple time zones — no matter where in the world your adventures take you. 


How to Wind a Mechanical Watch

We've created the video below to help you wind your Fleetmaster automatic mechanical watch:


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