Mechanical watches are back in style. Why are they suddenly so popular?

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Because mechanical watches last decades, they’re often passed down through generations. Some people update the watch’s look by replacing the watch band or straps.

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What to know about mechanical watches

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 recently told Wake Up 2Day on Hawaii’s KHON2 News 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. 

Top mechanical watches now back in style

Bulova Men’s Automatic Sutton Stainless Steel Bracelet Watch

Bulova Men’s Automatic Sutton Stainless Steel Bracelet Watch

Sporty yet refined, this Bulova watch combines a classic aesthetic with a skeleton dial and a contemporary stainless steel band. It’s water-resistant to 30 meters and has a 3-year warranty.

Sold by Macy’s

Bulova Women’s Automatic Diamond Accent Two-Tone Stainless Steel Watch

Bulova Women’s Automatic Diamond Accent Two-Tone Stainless Steel Watch

The intricate details of this Bulova design make it stand out as a truly unique timepiece. Besides rose gold accents and Roman numerals, it has a comfortable 34-millimeter case and a low-profile band.

Sold by Macy’s

Fossil Men’s Flynn Automatic Black Stainless Steel Watch

Fossil Men’s Flynn Automatic Black Stainless Steel Watch

An affordable option that doesn’t compromise on style, this ultramodern Fossil watch is well-received for its sleek, smoky finish. It has a striking, two-tone dial that is ornate without overpowering the design. 

Sold by Macy’s

Tissot Women’s Swiss Automatic Le Locle Stainless Steel Bracelet Watch

Tissot Women’s Swiss Automatic Le Locle Stainless Steel Bracelet Watch

A simple design that is ideal as a signature timepiece, this Tissot watch has shiny silver accents and a bold 42-millimeter case. The dial is easy to read with large Roman numerals and stick markers. 

Sold by Macy’s

Seiko Men’s Automatic 5 Sports Gray Nylon Strap Watch

Seiko Men’s Automatic 5 Sports Gray Nylon Strap Watch

Made with a lightweight yet durable nylon webbing strap, this sporty Seiko is ideal for casual or activewear. It’s water-resistant to 100 meters and is popular among water sport enthusiasts. 

Sold by Macy’s

Rado Women’s Swiss Automatic Golden Horse Diamond Stainless Steel Watch

Rado Women’s Swiss Automatic Golden Horse Diamond Stainless Steel Watch

An example of modern sophistication, this Rado design has a chic stainless steel band and rose gold bezel. It features an easy-to-read mother-of-pearl dial and understated diamond accents.

Sold by Macy’s

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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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