A movement is what makes a watch 'go'. Manual and automatic movements are made up of only mechanical parts, like gears and springs. Most collectors and connoisseurs prefer manual or automatic watches, as these movements represent the accumulation of over 600 years of refinement, expertise, and craftsmanship.
'Manual movements' are the most traditional movements, usually found in very conservative, collectable, and luxury watches. It is the oldest type of watch movement in production, dating back to the sixteenth century. Sometimes referred to as a 'hand-wound movement', the manual watch needs to be wound in order to function. Depending on the power reserve, this could be daily, every two days, once a week, etc. Many people cherish the timeless tradition of manual movements and even enjoy the ritual of winding them.
Components of the Manual Movement Watch:
Crown: Wheel on the side of the watch used to set the time. On a mechanical movement, either manual or automatic, the Crown is usually turned to wind the watch.
Mainspring: Power source of the movement. The kinetic energy from winding the Crown is transferred to the coil-shaped Mainspring, which stores the energy by gradually becoming tighter.
Gear Train: Transmits the stored energy from the Mainspring to the Escapement through a series of minute gears.
Escapement: Acts as a break. It takes the energy transmitted from the Mainspring through the Gear Train and meters the energy into equal, regular parts.
Balance Wheel: Heart of the movement. It receives the energy to run from the Escapement. The Balance beats, or oscillates in a circular motion, five to ten times per second. A watchmaker can adjust the Balance to make the watch run faster or slower.
Dial Train: Series of gears transmitting regulated, equally metered energy from the Balance Wheel to the hands of the watch, making them move.
Jewels: Synthetic rubies set at points of high friction, similar to the center of a gear that is constantly in motion. The Jewels are used as bearings in the watch to reduce metal-to-metal friction and wear, thereby improving performance and accuracy. Rubies are used because they absorb heat well and are extremely hard.
How a Manual Movement works:
An automatic, or self-winding, movement is a mechanical movement that winds itself while worn on the wrist. As it eliminates the need for daily hand winding, it is still necessary to wind an automatic watch if it has not been worn and has stopped.
Prior to wearing an automatic watch, it will need to be wound. One may choose to purchase a winding box, which will keep an automatic watch fully wound when not being worn for extended periods of time.
Components of the Automatic Movement Watch:
An automatic movement has the same parts as a regular manual movement: Crown, Mainspring, Escapement, Gear Train, Balance Wheel, and a Dial Train. The Rotor is an additional component which allows the watch to wind itself while worn.
Rotor: An oscillating (rotating) metal weight attached to the movement; allowed to swing freely in 360 degrees as the wrist moves. The Rotor is connected by a series of gears to the Mainspring. As the Rotor turns, it winds the Mainspring to give the watch energy. The Rotor is equipped with a clutch to disengage from winding when the Mainspring is fully wound. Hand winding gives the watch a full power reserve and the Rotor will keep rewinding the watch thereafter. Power reserve is a term used to indicate, in hours, the amount of energy stored in the movement. Thus, a watch with a 48 hour power reserve will run for approximately 48 hours before stopping.
How an Automatic Movement works: