(WTEN) – Smartwatches and fitness trackers have dominated the timepiece market for a few years, but recently, there has been a revived interest in mechanical watches. While they may lack the bells and whistles of their high-tech counterparts, they have an understated elegance that makes them truly timeless in design. With holiday shopping in full swing, time is ticking for shoppers to pick up the mechanical watches that have begun popping up on wish lists.
What you need to know about mechanical watches
What are mechanical watches?
Mechanical watches measure the passage of time with clockwork mechanisms that require periodic winding. Some mechanical watches are automatic and self-wind when the wearer moves their arm. Other mechanical watches require manual winding, which is typically handled by qualified watchmakers or jewelers.
What’s the difference between mechanical and quartz watches?
The main difference between mechanical and quartz watches is movement, which refers to the mechanism in a watch that powers its operation. Whereas mechanical watches rely on automatic or manual winding, quartz watches utilize batteries to keep time through vibrations and electric pulses.
While mechanical watches have been around for well over 120 years, the quartz watch only debuted in 1969. According to Seiko, maker of the first quartz watch, the battery-powered mechanism was profoundly more accurate, which was in part due to continuous operation that lasted for the better part of the year.
Although quartz watches are more accurate and mainstream, high-end watchmakers often prefer mechanical movements for their designs. Their fine craftsmanship contributes to their timelessness, in the truest sense of the word. Quite literally, mechanical watches have indefinite life spans given their construction, which can’t be said of most electronics and high-tech devices.
Why are mechanical watches popular again?
The rise in demand for mechanical watches is somewhat unexpected, but it’s not surprising. Many consumers, particularly millennials, prefer investing in products that withstand the test of time. As expected, this includes high-priced designer mechanical watches. Other consumers are pivoting away from high-tech smartwatches, and instead, want to embrace the aesthetic and craftsmanship of mechanical watches.
Mechanical watches may have also risen in popularity for the 2021 holiday season as a result of availability concerns for tech products. A public relations executive for the Better Business Bureau said that microchip shortages are making it harder for retailers to restock smart devices, including smartwatches and fitness trackers, in time for the holidays. As a result, mechanical watches have become attractive alternatives to open-minded consumers.