Let’s answer some of the common questions we get about watches.
The art of watchmaking is called horology
A watch is made up of:
– automatic: A self-winding or automatic watch is one that rewinds the mainspring of a mechanical movement by the natural motions of the wearer’s body. The back-and-forth motion of the winding rotor couples to a ratchet to automatically wind the mainspring. Self-winding watches can also be wound manually so they can be kept running when not worn or if the wearer’s wrist motions are inadequate to maintain the power reserve, but this is not recommended as it places excessive wear on the internal parts. The best is to check the movement in your watch and the manufacturer’s recommendations.
– manual: Traditional mechanical watch movements use a spiral spring called a mainspring as a power source. In manual watches the spring must be rewound periodically (usually daily) by the wearer by turning the watch crown, hence the term hand-wound or manual movement.
The display is what we would think of as the watch face and 2 main categories exist.
Analogue: numbers and moving hands
Digital: crystal display
A complication refers to an additional feature of a watch movement beyond the standard time-telling functions ie hours, minutes.
Examples of complications include: day/date, perpetual calendars, moon phase displays, alarms, repeating mechanisms, power reserve indicators, quarter strikes as well as stop/start chronograph functions.
Today very few watch manufacturers can actually call themselves true manufacturers as they do not produce their own complete movements in house but rather use high quality Swiss movements from companies such as ETA/Sellita/Valjoux/AS or adapt existing movements in some way( adapting an existing movement is called ‘ebauching’).
It is important to note that the use of high grade Swiss movements in no way diminishes the worth, reliability or functionality of a timepiece as these Swiss movement manufacturers have generations of experience and product knowledge to back their movements. They also manufacture a range of movements to varying levels and complications for use in simple manual watches through to high-end watches with complications.
However, due to the huge investment & specialised skills required to develop and produce in-house movements, very few companies opt to do this and when they do it is generally a stunning and impressive piece of horology. For this reason, in-house movements tend to be more costly and more collectable.