Watches are an extremely vital part of a person’s attire. It not only keeps a person updated with time, but also is an accessory that one could flaunt with pride. These days technologies of various kinds are overflowing the market. New mechanisms and principles of functioning of a watch have overtaken the older and conventional ones. Watches originally started with limited techniques, the main one being a mechanical watch.
A mechanical watch is that which functions on the first techniques of watch making. There are two types of mechanical watches manual and automatic. Manual mechanical watches require you to wound the mainspring at regular intervals. Automatic watches consists of a mainspring that is be able to release energy and is wound during your movement through out the day. This activates the balance wheel that oscillates with the help of a balance spring at a set rate for transmitting impulse through escapement of lever through the gear. This shall divide impulse in hours, seconds and minutes. These make a ticking sound while operating. These time units are the oldest one’s and have been developed in Europe in 1600’s from the spring powered clicks. These watches tend not to be as accurate as quartz watches. They are worn now more for the love of them and the aesthetic appeal that they have, as a piece of jewelry, as one’s personal style statement rather than for their ability of keeping absolute perfect time. You can check out our post about affordable automatic watches for men.
Most automatic and manual watches include five parts:
- A gear train combined with dual function of transmission of the force to the mainspring which goes to the balance wheel to add up swings of balance to produce hours, minutes and seconds.
- A balance wheel that swings rear and forward This is the time keeping element of the watch.
- The mechanism of escapement which has dual functions to keep the balance wheel to vibrate by giving it impulses with each swing, thus allowing the gears of the watch to escape at a set rate at given intervals of time.
- An indication dial, which acts as a face of the clock with hands rotating, to give the display pf time in understandable form.
- A mainspring that stores mechanical energy to empower the watch.
How often should I have my automatic watch serviced?
This can be a hard question to answer, but you can treat it like you do your car. Most mechanical watches should be serviced on a standard five year schedule. With normal wear this is how long it takes for oils in your watch to break down or dry up or for enough dirt to collect in your watch to require a thorough cleaning.
Another indication that it is time to service your watch is that it stops keeping accurate time. This is most often seen in a watch that runs slow regardless of how well wound it is. Let’s look at a quick overview of what goes in to a COA.
Taking the watch movement apart
Warning: you can easily ruin your automatic watch forever if you are not experienced or careful in how you disassemble and reassemble your watch movement.
When it is time to service your watch the first step is to disassemble it. We start by releasing the tension on the mainspring. Once that is done we can remove the crown and stem. The movement will then come easily out of the watch case in most instances. The watch is then turned over so that the hands may be removed.
Once the hands are removed we again turn the movement over and locate the screws or dial feet that hold the watch face in place. Carefully the screws are removed and the watch face is removed without bending it. On the front of the movement we can now remove the minute and hour gears and pinions.
Finally we can begin the process of removing each gear and spring from the movement. Each piece must be treated with extreme care and keep secure for reassembly.
Cleaning and oiling the movement
Now that the watch and movement disassembled it’s time to clean it. Each part of the movement and the watch case are cleaned thoroughly in either an ultra sonic cleaner, or a naptha solution may be used. If you choose to use naptha, please be very careful, this chemical is toxic and can harm you if not used properly. Once the parts are cleaned, allow them to dry on a lint free cloth or paper towel. Any lint or dust you introduce to the movement at this point will defeat the purpose of cleaning it.
Once all of the watch parts are cleaned it is time to oil. When oiling a movement there is a very fine balance between using enough oil to provide lubrication and using too much oil and having it attract dust and creating a mess inside the watch. Very little oil is actually needed since only very small drops are placed on each jewel or pivot hole. One area you want to avoid getting oil on is the hairspring. The oil will cause the spring coils to stick to each other and keep the watch from functioning properly.
Reassembling a mechanical watch
Now that the movement has been properly cleaned and oiled its time to put the watch movement back together. The process is simply the reverse of disassembly. However, extreme care needs to be taken. Each gear should easily slide in to place and the screws that hold them should tighten easily. Any binding or tightness needs to be address immediately or the watch will most likely not function properly.
Once the movement is reassembled we can replace the dial and the hands and then place the movement back in to the cleaned watch case.
These are the basic parts that all mechanical watches essentially contain. They may or may not have any other complicated functions such as automatic winding, calendar, chronograph, moon phase dial, wind indicator, repeater, Etc. The mechanism of the watch is a mature technology and almost all watches use these functions and operate the same way. The basic and original designs of mechanical watches have not changed much in the past 50 years. All that has changed is the usage of higher technology and more modern materials in the designing and manufacture of these watches. These watches are like a symbol of workmanship and grace with aesthetic appeal and this is the reason why in spite of the many new technologies of watch making, these old one’s have not lost their charm and importance.
Mechanical watches have a lower accuracy when compared to Quartz ones, as they are powered by a wound-up spring with rotors and gears to control the watch movement. This makes it more prone to inaccuracies in time reading. Therefore regular servicing every 1 to 3 years is needed to ensure that the watch can function properly.
Mechanical watches also tend to have a longer resale value. Mechanical watches can also come with a manual winding option or an automatic watch option which have rotors that can self-rewind when there is movement, either by moving your wrist or kept in a winder. Hence they will last several lifetimes if maintained properly.
Choosing the best automatic watch for men
My Top 5 Best Automatic Watches: