Automatic watch is beginning to become more popular nowadays thanks to its novelty. But is that the only reason to own one?
So why should anyone buy an automatic watch? There are 10 reasons why you should buy an automatic watch:
- It is a unique type of watch and has character
- Does not require a battery to be used
- Has sweeping seconds hand that is cool to look at
- It has some of the best looking watch designs and craftsmanship
- To appreciate the great effort and engineering behind it
- The experience of wearing it is different from normal quartz watch
- It can last for a long time to be passed on to your descendants as heirloom
- Can be an investment vehicle as it retains its value well
- As a statement of your exquisite taste
- Will make for a good conversation starter with fellow watch fans
1. It is Unique And Has Character
Thanks to its affordability, quartz watch is the norm nowadays. And that’s the start of how electronics conquer our world. After that, phones, and then smartphones, are widespread and almost everyone have them. Coupled with TVs, laptops and other electronic devices, our lives seem to revolve around electronics.
Now while I do enjoy electronics (I did write this article using a computer), I do yearn for something different. I can’t run away from smartphones, laptops, TVs, cars, etc but I can make the decision to buy an automatic watch that does not use any electric/electronic device inside it.
And that’s why automatic watch is much more unique nowadays in the era of modern civilization where everything requires electricity to be used. Automatic watch uses a novel mechanism that’s run entirely based on moving gears and parts to keep time. This characteristic is found to be very cool and is one of the main reasons why its popular among watch fans.
2. Does Not Require A Battery
The second reason why anyone should own an automatic watch is it does not need a battery to operate. Automatic watch relies on the natural wrist motion that stores potential energy inside the watch for it to operate. There is no need for a battery inside it because everything is done mechanically.
This is quite useful as it means there is no need to change the battery every 1-2 years like a normal quartz watch. Simply strap the watch to your wrist and it will run or you can also manual wind it by rotating its crown to directly top up its potential energy inside the mainspring.
In addition, less pollution is being discharged as there is no harmful batteries being thrown away every year. This characteristic of automatic watch quite possibly makes it the most environmentally friendly watch types around as it only uses the common mechanical parts made from metals without any harmful chemicals found in batteries and electronic chips.
3. Has Sweeping Seconds Hand
An automatic watch will have a sweeping or gliding seconds hand motion as opposed to the ticktock/1 second jump of quartz watch. The reason for this lies in how their movement works.
Inside an automatic watch, the timekeeping is done by a balance wheel that is designed to oscillate in a fixed frequency (often times 6 or 8 beats per second). With each beat, the balance wheel will cause the seconds hand to move through a set of gear trains and hence, the seconds hand will move very fast, at a rate of 6-8 times per second.
This seconds hand motion give the effect of sweeping or gliding seconds hand that is very cool to look at.
For a quartz watch, the integrated circuit inside it is the one responsible for timekeeping (with the help of a quartz oscillator). The IC will then send a signal to a step motor to move the seconds hand every second, hence the jumping seconds hand.
It could, theoretically, make a sweeping seconds hand by signaling the motor to move 6-8 times every second (like automatic watch) but this will consume more electrical energy (and bigger battery) and increase the wear and tear inside the watch (cause it to be more expensive as better materials are needed to be used).
4. It Has Some Of The Best Looking Watch Designs And Craftsmanship
What does Rolex, Omega, Tag and other higher end watches with good-looking designs have in common? That’s right, most of their watches have automatic movement in it.
As its unique and has better character, automatic watch is currently positioned at the top end of watches with beautiful designs and exquisite craftsmanship. The reason for this is that watchmakers know that they can’t market and compete in terms of pricing with the very affordable quartz watch.
Which is why most automatic watchmakers design and market their watches to the rich and famous by using precious metals (gold, titanium etc.) and handcrafted parts to create some of the best looking watches in the market. By focusing in this niche market, it has helped automatic watch industry to survive despite having a cost disadvantage against the cheaper quartz watch.
Another main reason why automatic watch is just so nice to look at is because its mostly made out of metal instead of plastic. The parts need to be metal because of the high amount of moving parts which require for the robustness and strength of metal.
In order to hold the weight of the metal parts, the outer casing also need to be made out of metal. This gives the chance for watchmaker to create an exquisitely polished metal case which is truly beautiful to look at. And thanks to the heft from all the metal, automatic watch also feels heavy and has some heft in it which makes for a pleasant wearing experience.
In this current age of electronics, how can anyone create something that do a complex thing without relying on electronics?
True enough, timekeeping is very easy with a quartz watch. A small piece of quartz movement is sufficient to tell time. You just need to hook up a battery cell and it will run. In fact, many great things were born out of electronics such as smartphones and smartwatches (which is really cool btw).
But then on the other side, we have automatic watch that seeks to keep time accurately (almost) without relying on electronics. It uses mechanical moving parts in the form of balance wheel to keep time. There’s also the power reserve and self-winding module and time display module.
And then to cram all of these into a very small footprint that can be worn on our wrists. Now that’s something that not everyone can do. There are no less than 100 small parts in an automatic watch and all of them need to be designed, manufactured and assembled perfectly for the watch to run.
There’s a lot of effort put into these watches. Without a doubt, automatic watch is a culmination of centuries of mankind’s effort in timekeeping and I personally, have a great joy to wear one on my wrist =)
6. Experience Of Wearing It Is Different From Normal Quartz Watch
The next reason to buy an automatic watch is to because it has a different feeling when being worn as compared to the normal quartz watch.
I’m pretty sure most of you guys already own a quartz watch before (my first watch was a quartz when I was a kid). It’s a great piece of watch and just works without any fuss. But as I’ve mentioned above, its run entirely by electronics which kind of making it quite boring to be used. There’s no real fun in wearing one, to be honest.
Automatic watches, on the other hand, is something entirely different. Like all mechanical devices, you need to pay attention to how it performs so that you can use it correctly.
There’s the matter about its power reserve, you might need to manual wind it, there’s more resetting need to be done (especially if you have a lot of watches in your collection), you need to keep track of its accuracy, need to be aware and bring it to service, and a lot of other stuffs. While it seems like a lot of work to do for a watch, I found that this gives me a chance to interact with my watches kinda like the watch is a living being – which I really enjoy =)
In addition to that, automatic watch also has the self-winding mechanism in the form a free moving rotor that moves with wrist motion. This kind of mechanical feedback makes wearing the watch something that’s really special and not found in other watch types.
7. Can Last For A Long Time And Good Item As Heirloom
Automatic watch also can last for a long time and is something that you can keep as an heirloom for your descendants. In fact, many vintage watches on the market right now are automatic watches, with some of them can keep running. If being kept properly, automatic watch can easily outlive you and passed on to the next generation.
One reason for its longevity is because of the high use of metals inside the watch, with the stainless steel type the most usually used. Metals are robust and can last long, provided its not rusted – which is what stainless steel is all about. Just keep it out from moisture, store it in a dry place and you will be able to keep the watch intact for years.
As the movement, its not as long-lasting because the oils used as lubricant will go bad after 5 or so years. But this is not a cause for concern as sending the watch to be serviced will do the trick. In fact, many vintage automatic watches are running fine now after being serviced. When push comes to shove, you can always replace the movement entirely with a new one, provided that it will fit inside the case.
Quite like a vintage car, automatic watch can also be a good investment vehicle, though this only applies to some watches.
As mentioned above, automatic watch can easily last for a long time and after a few years, there might be a demand for it. This is because with changing style/trend, some watch models will be discontinued to follow the latest trend.
Case in point is with watch sizes. A few decades ago, anything bigger than 38 mm diameter is unthinkable. But now, most of the watches are in 40mm++ diameter. With clothes, watch style is continuously evolving and something that is hot now will not be so a few years later.
This creates a demand for yesteryear watches whereby some people might still want to hold on to that kind of style or watch model. They might not be able to afford these watches years ago due to many reasons and now, since they can afford it, they are willing to get these previous generation watches for their collection. This creates a thriving market for vintage watches and with the right condition, automatic watches can still keep most of their value.
But then, only some automatic watches can be regarded as an investment vehicle. This mostly revolves around the higher priced watch with a unique standing around the watch community such as stainless steel Rolex Submariner. This watch is one of the few that can be said to be an investment in itself thanks to how popular it is.
One of the key things to remember is an evergreen design from a good brand will be a sure win. And this is why the Submariner is such a hit because its design have been mostly unchanged from decades ago – proving just how popular and evergreen it is. So do your research prior to buying a watch solely for investment purpose to avoid losing out in the end.
9. Statement Of Your Exquisite Taste
If you see someone wearing an automatic watch, what do you think of him/her? Without a doubt, you’d think about how rich he is (depending on the brand/watch price) but another thing that will spring into mind is how good his taste is.
Automatic watches almost always have a good design. Though it depends on the price and brand, I found that most automatic watches are impeccably designed even for a normal low-end models, more so than a normal quartz watch.
And when worn on your wrist, it will be a statement on what your taste is much like the other elements of your outfit. Wearing an automatic watch will easily elevate your style without even trying.
10. A Good Conversation Starter With Fellow Watch Fans
I’ve been able to strike conversations with strangers just from commenting on their watch.
Yes, its unthinkable, but when you’ve been deep down into watches, did your research, own a few of them, sooner of later you can easily tell what kind of watches anyone is wearing.
But most often than not, my conversations will start by me being intrigued with the other guy and asking about their watch. Apart from the watches that I own, there are many watches that I only know from reading online and stumbling upon them in real life on another guy’s wrist will definitely get me excited.
And that’s also what usually happened with me. Often times, some guys will strike a conversation with me on a watch that I’m wearing – it can be either because he’s also an automatic watch fan or because the watch is really handsome (see point no. 4 & 9 above). If you don’t wear an automatic watch, these conversation opportunities will not exist.
By the way, have you noticed that most magazines about finance and business have full page ads featuring automatic watches? This is because most of the rich wear automatic watches and if you want to appeal and connect with them, wearing an automatic watch yourselves could be a great way to that.
Are Automatic Watches Worth It?
So are automatic watches worth it? Yes, automatic watches are definitely worth your money based on the 10 reasons above. It’s one of the non-electronically device that we can have right now and as an automatic watch owner, I’ve been very happy with my watches.
But then again, not everyone might be suitable to own one of these as it also have its own disadvantages that might be a deal-breaker for them. For example, if you’re looking for a very accurate watch or something that is very lightweight, then a quartz watch might be the best for you. I’ve written an entire post about the differences of automatic vs quartz watch that you can use (click here to read it).
In addition, I’d like to recommend that you start out with the cheaper variations of automatic watches before buying something that costs thousands of dollars and then finding out and automatic watch is not to your liking. I’ve had a couple of friends splurged on Rolex Submariner worth thousands of dollars to reward themselves only to not use the watch after some time because its not keeping a “correct time”.
Such costly mis-purchases can be avoided if you try out with cheaper watches just to test the waters and see if automatic watch is for you or not. If you’re interested in getting an affordable watch, check out my 10 best affordable automatic watch under $200. If its too cheap and you want to get something more expensive, then my collection of the top 30 automatic watches under $1,000 might be able to help you.
What is the reliability of quartz watch compared to automatic watch? In terms of reliability, quartz watch is able to keep better time compared to automatic watch. This is because it uses an electronic circuit with quartz oscillator that can keep time accurate to +/- 10 seconds per month. (Read my previous article on how quartz watch can be so accurate).
What is automatic watch lifespan? Automatic watch can last forever provided that it is not damaged and being serviced based on manufacturer’s recommendation which can vary from 3 to 5 years (read more about automatic watch service in my previous post here).
I hope this article about why anyone should own an automatic watch will be beneficial to you. Do let me know what you guys think about by commenting below.