Why do People Still Buy Mechanical Watches instead of Quartz?

Why do People Still Buy Mechanical Watches instead of Quartz?

There is quite a divide in the watch world between quartz and mechanical (for the sake of this article I will use mechanical as an umbrella term for both manual and automatic) and it is understandable why. If mechanical is the manual Ford Mustang than quartz is similar to the all-electric Mustang. Both are Mustangs, both have their appeal but they are a very different kind of appeal. With mechanical watches you get artistry, engineering and design wrapped in a perfectly antiquated piece of machinery. A lot of effort goes into making a Rolex, Omega, Breitling etc as accurate as possible, or as accurate as possible using old mechanics.

 

There is no mechanical watch comparable to a quartz when it comes to accuracy. It is simply a completely different kettle of fish. A cheap quartz watch will be far more accurate than just about anything else you throw at it from the mechanical world. A Casio F91W for instance will keep better time for longer than an Omega Seamaster. They will also be cheaper to repair and cheaper to keep running. A battery replacement is cheaper than a service and if the watch desperately needs a lot of repair work done then you can replace the whole mechanism for less than an average repair cost. There are some exceptions, the Grand Seiko quartz line do have expensive mechanisms that will increase the running costs but for the average quartz it will be noticeably cheaper than a mechanical watch.

 

 

 

So why then do people seem so non plussed by quartz watches? If they are cheaper and more accurate why doesn’t everyone buy a quartz watch and forget about the out of date mechanical pieces? Well, there are a couple of reasons but the main one is the sense of connection you have with a watch. At the risk of sounding pompous there is something different about wearing a mechanical watch to something battery powered. Your movement is powering the mechanism and it is all gears, springs and cogs that make the watch tick. No electronic work around. There is something that feels, more authentic or genuine about mechanical watches. Quartz watches, at times, can feel a bit soulless. Just another piece of clothing or just a tool to be worn.

 

The other reason I suspect people go for the mechanical is the nostalgia factor. If you inherit your parent’s mechanical watch then it is like having a bit of them on your wrist. The same rotor spinning, the same hands ticking with the added bonus of where once their movements powered it now yours do. All inherited items will hold sentimental value and regardless of the movement, people will cherish their families time pieces regardless of the actual watch's quality. There is something though about mechanical pieces that spur a sense of nostalgia and sentimentality that quartz watches struggle to do.

 

 

Lastly there is the question of luxury. In the modern world the need for a watch has all but vanished. Phones are so prevalent that telling the time with your phone is probably more common than telling the time with a watch or clock. This makes watches a luxury or hobby for many people. That means how accurate the watch is isn’t as important as other factors. How interesting is the watch, how collectable, how well made etc. are bigger factors than just how ‘good’ of a watch is it. To use the analogy from before, there are many cars better than the Ford Mustang, faster, better fuel consumption, more reliable but people want the Ford Mustang. People make purchases based on what a watch makes them feel rather than just crunching data and going for the ‘best’.

 

Obviously this is just one opinion on the divide between quartz and mechanical and I would love to hear what you think.

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