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Old 06-08-2014, 07:22 PM   #1
gmiguy OP
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Mechanical watches uniquely impressive?

I'm not looking for a quartz vs mechanical debate. I'm an equal-opportunity watch enthusiast and own, wear, and enjoy both types. I've even got a few handwind watches around.

I'm interested in getting a better understanding of one of the things that staunch mechanical-only fans often say in support of their preference.

The wording varies, but it's something along the lines of "I prefer mechanical watches because they are a triumph of engineering excellence and manufacturing skill" with the implication being that quartz watches are not.

I submit that this is not accurate, and that even a basic quartz movement represents at least as much engineering skill as a comparable automatic.

I'm not an expert on microelectric component design, but I know enough to look at a quartz movement and see that it represents a the output of large amount of multidisciplinary technical skill.

In addition to purely mechanical design, a quartz movement also needs electrical design and software development. If anything it's probably harder. There are people alive today who can design and then make a mechanical movement essentially from scratch by themselves. I'd be very surprised if any one person has the skill set to do the same with a quartz.

It's a different kind of skill and a different kind of technology, but that in no way diminishes the expertise behind it.

The same goes for manufacturing. Quartz movements don't grow on trees. An automated line that can make thousands of identical, complex, high-precision electromechanical devices per hour with a negligible defect rate represents at least as much talent and skill as a movement that is hand-assembled with tweezers.

So, for folks who feel that a mechanical movement is a uniquely impressive paragon of precision and technical skill - why do you not think the same way about quartz?

Is it as simple as the fact that windup levers/springs/gears technology is very visual, whereas in a quartz movement most of the interesting stuff is not directly observable?
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Old 06-08-2014, 08:13 PM   #2
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The quartz movement while an impressive technological improvement over the mechanical one it holds little interest for me.

I have the original Timex quartz from 1972 (I think) which my parents gave me for Christmas after a lot of whining on my part. No longer works.

I have a few ancient (100 years) wind up pocket watches that are in varying stages of wear,most still keep decent time. Therein lies my preference for the mechanical movement. The quartz movement is a part of the throw away mentality so pervasive now. I prefer a repairable item over replaceable one.

That being said I want a Seiko Spring Drive bad.
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Old 06-09-2014, 03:58 AM   #3
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I wear Automatic watches for this one simple reason, no battery.......May not be as accurate but they are close enough for a retired person.
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Old 06-09-2014, 06:03 AM   #4
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I think what gives autos and mechanical watches its aura is just that they've maintained the impression that it's a challenge to do--that micro-machinery is more difficult to produce than circuit boards. And that the design of it takes ingenuity. To me, their aura is only half accurate. While the design of it takes ingenuity, micro-fabrication of these components does not merit the kinds of margins that they command. There's a good bit of marketing and brand management involved. And who's to say that the kind of ingenuity involved in miniaturizing sensor technology (ABCT watches), or solar power (Eco-Drives), or other engineering advances weren't the culmination of equally ingenious accomplishments?

But mechanical watches are cool to me because of what they accomplish within the constraints of their genre. The Spring Drive is what you get when you take off those constraints, and aim for a blend of disciplines that captures the "soul" of mechanical transmissions, while leveraging the technical advantages of their tri-synchro regulator. It is actually imo, still a mechanical watch...just with a "bionic" heart.
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Old 06-09-2014, 06:04 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beemer Bob View Post
I wear Automatic watches for this one simple reason, no battery.......May not be as accurate but they are close enough for a retired person.

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Old 06-09-2014, 07:30 AM   #6
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I like the mechanical aspect of my watch, I think its "cool". I also like that I dont have to have the battery changed and then promptly have the seal leak ruining the watch. I dislike the accuracy as it messes with my OCD tendencies and absolute refusal to be late.
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Old 06-09-2014, 08:28 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmiguy View Post
I'm not looking for a quartz vs mechanical debate.
Really?

Quote:
So, for folks who feel that a mechanical movement is a uniquely impressive paragon of precision and technical skill - why do you not think the same way about quartz?
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Old 06-09-2014, 08:34 AM   #8
DriveShaft
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Here's a link to a decent clip about what exactly spring drive does differently.

http://bcove.me/imyvgeqk

Brilliant division of function between disciplines, as Gmiguy says. You can't' look at this movement and tell me it is anything other than a mechanical watch though.

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Old 06-09-2014, 08:36 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MotoDaveL View Post
I like the mechanical aspect of my watch, I think its "cool". I also like that I dont have to have the battery changed and then promptly have the seal leak ruining the watch. I dislike the accuracy as it messes with my OCD tendencies and absolute refusal to be late.
Fortunately for you...most mechanical watches get faster as the mechanisms wear, and regulator amplitude reduces.
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Old 06-09-2014, 08:39 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by SgtDuster View Post
Really?
Yes, really. I'm not asking which is "better" - like I said I'm a big fan of both types.

However, I am curious as to why people feel that one is a technological tour de force and the other is not.
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Old 06-09-2014, 08:51 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by gmiguy View Post
Yes, really. I'm not asking which is "better" - like I said I'm a big fan of both types.

However, I am curious as to why people feel that one is a technological tour de force and the other is not.
I'm wondering what it is if it's not starting a debate. ;)


I have nothing against a nice debate mind you. But saying that you don't want to start a debate by starting with a loaded question is kinda, well, funny.
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Old 06-09-2014, 09:53 AM   #12
gmiguy OP
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I'm all for a debate.

Just not the generic "Automatic or Quartz" one that's been rehashed on the internet a million times already.
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Old 06-09-2014, 02:33 PM   #13
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An innovative solution to a problem. Question is, will it still function after Skynet nukes us?
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Old 06-09-2014, 03:41 PM   #14
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I have a few nice mechanicals, and I can appreciate them. I don't wear any of them frequently enough to keep them going, so they are kind of a pain in the ass.

My daily, when I wear something, is 90% of the time my Casio ProTrek that is solar, atomic, and a few other things, and I never have to think twice about. While it's a whole different deal, you have to admit that is impressive in a different way.
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Old 06-09-2014, 05:40 PM   #15
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Thanks for the link. I've been curious about the "hybrid" movement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DriveShaft View Post
Here's a link to a decent clip about what exactly spring drive does differently.

http://bcove.me/imyvgeqk

Brilliant division of function between disciplines, as Gmiguy says. You can't' look at this movement and tell me it is anything other than a mechanical watch though.

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