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April 25, 2015



For the longest time, people stood by carburetors instead of giving in to the more modern and efficient fuel injection. Some people still prefer manual stick shifts even though a modern automatic transmission is supreme in most objective criteria. People still prefer buying things built by hand and hand painted or decorated----as opposed to products built in a factory by robotic machinery---even if the factory built items have closer seams, smoother finishes and better tolerances. In short, the mechanical watch appeals to certain personality types. It's very hard to argue that mechanical movements are "better." They aren't. A good modern quartz movement does the job of timekeeping better. About the only thing you can say in favor of a mechanical or automatic----is that you never need to replace batteries. Some of those watches have 10 year batteries, which hardly seems like much of an inconvenience. All that said: I have been considering getting a watch with the Valjoux 7750 movement----or some other well regarded automatic.


I'm reminded of the difference between the more advanced and superior diesel engine train and the classic steam train. Train aficionados, of which my father is one, much prefer steam trains - they're just more interesting, more classic.

Another analogy would be vinyl LPs vs. CDs (or mp3s). Or a wooden violin vs. a synthesizer.

In all cases, there's an organic "analog" quality that is lost in the more advanced "digital" technology. And so it is with mechanical vs. quartz watches. Mechanical watches are organic, analogy, powered by hand-winding and/or human movement. Quartz are powered by a little lithium battery.

It isn't about better or worse, at least as far as utility goes because, let's face it, that goes out the window somewhere in the $50-100 range, and none of us really "need" a timekeeping device beyond what our smart phones can offer. It is about something else...a feeling, a quality, a vibe. To put it more simply, a mechanical watch has more soul than a quartz watch. This isn't quantifiable or measurable, but it is palpable and heuristically true for the vast majority of people who get into watches.


Please excuse my lack of eloquence, as I'm just a lowly engineer for a utility. Inanimate objects don't have souls. It seems to be in our nature to want to give such objects a soul so we can substantiate emotion towards these objects. It's fine to have attachment due to memories or sacrifice associated with possessions, whether it be a watch, car, gun, house, or coffeemaker. Applying a soul to something you've purchased, and so easily willing to replace, is just silly. It's a tool designed to do a job, just get the one that works best for you.

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