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Mechanical Or Quartz

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I have been pondering this question for such a long time. What do other members think. I think when you have a mechanical watch it's like a living thing, a bit like how men think of their car engines. Quartz movements on the other hand seem a tad cold.

It would be nice to see what the members prefer, moreover the satisfaction after fixing a mechanical watch compared to a quartz...then again I might be biased. The other question to ponder is auto or wind-up.

Look forward to your views. :)

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Hi Craig

I think your analogy is quite clever.  I have a 3 year old car, I know it has an engine because I have seen it.  The car just goes. 

I think older cars always made one aware of their working parts, I used to have a 1275cc mini and that certainly made you think about its all its working bits.


I have 6 watches that I wear regularly, no, just one at a time. 

The quartz are always time correct and ready to go.  The auto with date needs the date corrected when I want to wear it, and of course the wind up needs the time set.

I don't look on the quartz as inferior which I suppose some folks do, I just appreciate their accuracy and the fact that they are no fuss watches.

I really like my autos and the wind up used to belong to my dad.  Winding, setting and wearing it, always reminds me of him so it is always a pleasure.

For me the issue is more analogue or digital.  I don't think I want a digital watch. 


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It really depends on what you want,  a Quartz watch is a bit like a PC,  soul less but very efficient.  A mechanical watch seems to be very much alive and probably has the life force and DNA.  I watched a video of a Rolex technician fitting the balance wheel and bridge,  as it went into place the watch came to life,  no doubt in my mind that it's a living thing.  If I was not so careful with money I'd have rushed out and bought one there and then.



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If all I was interested in was telling the time (like sane people) I probably wouldn't bother with a watch at all as there are more than enough time references around any way and in desperation I could always look at my mobile phone. In fact my kids don't own watches at all for that very reason.


I own 4 quartz watches. 2 conventional battery analogue watches which were presents and as such have sentimental value, 1 Seiko Kinetic, also a gift (from my wife) which also has sentimental value but is of technical interest too because of it's mechanical element, and an old Timex Iron Man LCD watch that came in a job lot of watches that I picked up for the mechanicals that were included.

The quartz analogue watches will go through whole battery cycles without ever going on my wrist and the Seiko Kinetic gets used a couple of times a year to try and keep the capacitor in good shape. The Iron Man was in such poor cosmetic order when I got it that it couldn't be sold on but it works fine and curiously enough I use it more than all of the other quartz watches put together. This is because it is expendable and I do quite a lot of work in environments which would destroy mechanical watches and mobile phones very quickly, but I still need to track the time.


The remaining 90% or so of my collection is vintage mechanical and is used for probably 90% of the time.


For me the argument that quartz watches are more accurate is irrelevant. Even my worst mechanical can manage +/-15 sec/day, and most do very much better than that. If I were to try and live my life to tighter time tolerances than that I would go mad. What ever I'm doing, be it catching a train, or keeping an appointment, or sitting down to watch something on the telly, scheduling the activity with less than 15 seconds lea-way is ridiculous.


To me the only advantage that quartz has over mechanical is reliability in extreme environments, and since those conditions only occasionally prevail, it's not that much of a issue.


To me, part of the pleasure of owning and wearing a vintage mechanical watch is to do with the nostalgia of an age when real people actually made things, when things were expected to last, and when quality and craftsmanship were valued attributes; there was a reason why even mid-range mechanical watches used to be expensive items which your grand children would be proud to inherit (I don't suppose there are too many quartz heirlooms out there).

Also though I get a lot of pleasure out of wearing something that I have managed to restore to life myself. It kind of validates the time and money that I have invested in it, as well as adding to the fun and sense of achievement in doing the work. As such, even modern mechanicals don't really cut the mustard, and I sold on the only brand new mechanical watch that I had (a Seiko 5), because I just didn't get any fun out of wearing it.


As to manual versus automatic, I love both but for polar opposite reasons. I have a number of auto's, including an old bumper movement and a 21 jewel pin pallet beastie, which I love for their technical complexity. But I also have a lot of manuals for which the attraction is their simplicity and purity of purpose.


There is a technical argument that, provided you maintain a reasonable amount of activity, the main spring in an auto will maintain a more consistent "state of wind", and as such will be less prone to isochronism than an equivalent manual movement that is only wound up once a day. However, to me this is just a technical argument and not a practical consideration.


So there you go, so long as it's old, and I fixed it myself, I'm happy :-)

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I like mechanical wristwatches for the aesthetics of their case and dial design - as well as their movements. Pocket watches are different in that, while I also like case and dial design, I can take the back of them very easily and study the working movement. The movements on pocket watches are often beautifully damaskeened, and they're a joy to look at.


As most of my pocket watches are US Railroad Grade, they're also damned accurate - even those from the 1920s. I have two or three WW2 military pocket watches, which are utilitarian in many respects - steel casing, etc. - but also pretty accurate. The pride of my military collection is my Hamilton GCT (Greenwich Centre Time) US watch. This is a 1941 Hamilton Grade 4992B:





Edited by WillFly
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I bought this at an auction for about £150 a year or so ago. I sent it to a watchmaker in upstate New York - an Amish man who specialises in Hamiltons - and he put on the missing sweep seconds hand and cleaned, serviced and regulated it. For about £50! He's a treasure - but I only use him for these specialist US watches because the parts are so much more available in the US than over here.


I've seen them going on eBay for over £350 - so I think I got a bargain!

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Great watch - and it's so good you didn't compromise on replacing the seconds hand, it would possibly have looked quite odd without the original style. The movement looks mint!

I bought the hand myself from an American who specialises in just supplying parts for Hamilton GCT watches. He sent to me from the US - and I sent the hand back, with the watch, to the US for repair! The movement is in incredible condition - and it keeps incredible time.

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