Watches (mechanical)

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Watches can be a long and complex topic. This article is limited to exploring the practicality of mechanical watch movements for mission-critical applications.

Watches are a useful tool for various scenarios (emergency communications, survival, medical, military, law enforcement, navigation, etc). Most watches can be categorized as mechanical (spring powered) or quartz (battery powered). Quartz watches offer higher accuracy than mechanical however the downside is having the battery die on you at an inopportune time and/or when a replacement isn't readily available. For this reason I believe a mechanical watch is the correct choice for anyone serious about having a timepiece which can be relied upon in all scenarios. I suppose it could also be argued that a mechanical watch isn't susceptible to EMP however if your watch got nuked that badly I think the person wearing it would have a lot more to worry about than their watch ticking.

One example of relying on a watch is disaster/emergency radio networks, many of which operate or at least monitor the frequency from the top of the hour until 5 minutes after the hour. This is done to conserve battery/generator power. Of course these networks aren't going to work very well unless all the participating stations have a functioning timepiece.

Mechanical watches come in three flavors; Automatic winding (by motion of your arm), Manual winding (turning the "crown" knob on the side), or both.

Here are some common mechanical movements with above average quality that are currently on the market:


Seiko 7S26 (21 jewel) and 7S36 (23 jewel)

These movements also provide day/date however they only have automatic winding. There is no option to manually wind the watch so it can crap out at any time if you are not providing sufficient movement. 7S26 watches usually go for $50-$100 and 7S36 watches for $100-$180. A common line of watches with these movements is the Seiko Sports 5.

Miyota (8205, 8215, 6T51, etc)

These movements are usually 21 jewel and a number of the 82xx series movements also provide day/date. These movements support both automatic winding and manual winding. The only drawback is these movements don't "hack". "Hack" means the second hand stops when you pull out the knob to set the time. This is important if you want to adjust your time to be accurate down to the second. It also gives you the ability to accurately synchronize your watch with another persons watch. Miyota movements are often found in Citizen and Bulova brand watches and are usually in the $190-$250 range.

ETA 2824-2

This is a quality Swiss movement that supports manual/automatic winding, date, and "hack". There are many copies of this movement on the market (Sellita SW200 and a handful of Chinese knockoffs). Watches with this movement are usually in the $250-$500 range.

Seiko 6R15/6R20

Similar specs to the ETA 2824-2, supports manual/automatic winding, date, and "hack". Watches with this movement are usually in the $400-$700 range.

ETA 2836-2

Same as the 2824-2 but also supports day of week. Watches with this movement are usually in the $450-$900 range. You can find this movement in Tissot, Hamiltion, Mido, and a handful of other brands (including fake Rolexes).


Past here there are even fancier movements with prices from $1000-$10000+ (Omega, Rolex, etc) but that is getting beyond the scope of this article.

In conclusion I wouldn't bother with the Seiko 7S26/36 due to the lack of manual winding. This leaves us with the choice of spending $190+ for a watch that doesn't support "hack" or $250+ for a watch that does. That is a little spendy for a watch to fulfill a basic purpose however, as with many products, you get what you pay for.

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