Why Own a Mechanical Watch?

Long before the advent of nanotechnology, fine
craftsman created amazing micro-mechanical
machines that were both precise and beautiful.  
Although it is not clear when the first time piece that
could be carried was produced, it is generally
thought that the first pocket watch was made during
the 16th century.  These early devices, although
finely crafted, were crude at timekeeping until the
mid 19th century. During the late 1870’s it became
a truly precision time piece, rivaling most
technology of that time, and combined numerous
advancements in science of the time. This level of
precision was possible with the advent of
temperature compensating balances, and fine
adjustments enabling the watch to run at a
consistent rate of time in several positions.  These
refinements were primarily due to the need for a
precision time keeper that could be stored in a
railroad workers pocket, as the train was
increasingly relied on for dependable and safe
travel.  It was during this time that manufacture
moved from the cottage craftsman to mass-
production in factories.  The advancement of tools
able to produce
quality mass produced parts truly
revolutionized the industry. These are the time
pieces that can be used, and are the most
affordable for the average person today. For an
interesting read see
History of the American
Waltham Watch
Company on Google Books.

Contact me or call 530-520-1478

Although these watches were mass produced, they
still capture the style and pride of the craftsman of
earlier years.  Open a common 7 jeweled Elgin
pocket watch from the late 1800’s and you will
notice attractive plate patterning (called
damaskeening), polished screw heads, finely
finished wheels (gears), and polished jewel
settings.  These artistic elements (with the
exception of the jewels) are not needed for the
watch to function properly, and many would not be
noticed by anyone but the watchmaker (watch
repair person) when the watch was disassembled
for repair.

Why would someone want to own an antique
mechanical watch (wind-up watch) today? A battery
operated quartz watch can be purchased for under
$20.00, keeps excellent time, and is very practical.
Well, an antique pocket watch represents an age
that seemed to pride themselves in fine
craftsmanship. It is truly unique to have in your
pocket a tiny mechanical machine that works for
years before needing any maintenance, and is
independent of an outside power source. Also, the
pride in owning and using daily a fine piece of
machinery is appealing to many. Some collect a
wide array of different time pieces, while others
have one pocket watch that is used on a daily basis.

Whatever ones preference, owning and using an
antique device such as a pocket watch can enrich
our understanding of how impressive technology of
the past really was.  It also sparks interest in
furthering our knowledge of history, and can even
provide inspiration for the pursuit of self sufficient
technology for today.

This brings up another great advantage to owing
and using older mechanical devices: