by Gordon Fraser August 20, 2020 3 min read 10 Comments

In a recent interview, we were asked why we champion mechanical watches over smart watches - it was a really interesting question and one we never really thought about. For us, it wasn’t necessarily about championing this over that - we use mechanical movements because we love mechanical movements, we love how intricate and complex they are, but also how simple a function they provide. We love the idea that we wear a tiny engine on our wrists.

But it did get us thinking about the benefits of using and wearing a mechanical watch - there are of course cons, as with anything, but there are also huge pros.


Smartwatches are what you’d call short life-cycle objects - so you buy one and wear it for 4-5 years and then replace it. Pretty good, you get all the functions, it’s convenient and benefits your lifestyle, and when the battery doesn’t hold charge or you have whacked it off a door one too many times, just replace it. On the manufacturing side, due to this short life-cycle, there’s the ability for producers of smart watches (and phones and computers) to shift with the trends or adopt the latest technology. So a designer of a smartwatch only needs to design for that future window of 4-5 years because there will be a new trend, or a new tech that they want to harness. But with each 4-5 year life-cycle comes the downside of being on the edge of technological progress, and due to this almost all of those products will inevitably find their way into landfill. You cannot recycle them - they’re designed and produced in a way that prevents any replacement of parts or easy disassembly - it’s uneconomical and cheaper to replace the whole thing if you break it. Think about all that energy and processing that has gone into making a smartwatch - all the materials that needed refining, the screens that were manufactured and assembled, the batteries that were concocted and all the technology that was beautifully assembled within that little box. And in 5 years, it’s all under the ground.

Mechanical watches are different. The life-cycle of a mechanical watch is decades, if not centuries. If you look after your watch, have it serviced and maintained, it can last lifetimes. If you whack a watch off a door, you can replace the parts - every single one. The movement can be serviced and likewise, if a part needs repairing, it can be - this is on a very pragmatic level that we are talking about here. Mechanical watch designers have a bit more of a difficult task, it could be argued, because we are designing a forever product. We can’t shift with trends and there isn’t any latest tech that we can adopt. So when designing a mechanical watch, there has to be so much consideration put into not just how it looks now, but how it will fare in 10 years from now, or 20. It’s a daunting prospect!

So we champion mechanical watches because they can last forever. Because they are complex engines with a simple task - to show you the time. And that simplicity on the surface, tied to the incredible engineering complexity underneath, is what we love so much about these little engines. We will forever champion this way of doing things, because if you keep it together, our watches will last lifetimes.

And as a producer of mechanical watches, the movements - those little engines - are the first thing we consider before any pen hits any paper in the design phase - it's step 1. We have a number of options when it comes to choosing the movement, and it is the biggest indicator of what watch it will be. It dictates the size of the watch, the thickness, the dial design, the crown position and the price. So once we've chosen the engine and have tested it and are happy with it - we then start the very long, and difficult process, of bringing a watch from pencil sketch all the way through to market.

Gordon Fraser
Gordon Fraser


10 Responses

Dave Bellamy
Dave Bellamy

September 03, 2020

Which retail outlets stock Marloe watches?

Thibault Jacob
Thibault Jacob

September 03, 2020

Thank you guys, great video (as usual) but it raises another question: if I am not mistaken, except for the Morar, all your watches have manual winding movements. Why is that? Is it only a financial concern or do you prefer these types of mechanism?

Gordon
Gordon

August 21, 2020

Thanks all for the lovely comments – Christian the music is by a crowd called The Night Train and is the track “Pura Vida”.

Christian Ising
Christian Ising

August 21, 2020

Hello Gordon.
You´re absolutely right with that you tell at this video. even if a mechanical watch is more expensive at once – it lasts very long. And if you add the costs for the amount of watches you have to buy as long as a mechanical watch lasts – the mechanical watch is propably much cheaper…
Who ist playing th music at the background of this film? It sounds like Jacque Loussier. Is this right?
Thanks. The next time I will visit Great Britain I would like to visit the MWC. Is this possible?
Best regards,
Christian from Munich/Bavaria

Richard Briers
Richard Briers

August 21, 2020

Just watched your video. Brilliant & your presenter was great…Well done !!!

Damian Miles
Damian Miles

August 21, 2020

Too true. I sold Mechanical watches from most of the big brands for many years and was often asked why they still did mechanical when Quartz (battery) watches were so accurate. The answer was a question “How long would you like it to last?”. Certain manufacturers repaired quartz watches for 10 years after they were discontinued, but that was it. In theory you could ask a talented watchmaker to make you a part for a mechanical watch made 30 years ago and they could. Getting a new integrated circuit (quartz watch brain) made for 30 year old watch would be pretty much impossible now, unless you wanted a few thousand of course.

In a throw away society, which is changing, it’s nice to be able to buy something of homegrown design, that is designed to be looked after when needed and looks good too.

Keep up the good work!

Andy Andrews
Andy Andrews

August 21, 2020

Thank you for reminding me about “why mechanical”! I hadn’t thought about if for years! Then I thought about my Girard Perregaux that my parents gave me on my 26th or 17th birthday which is 63 years ago – and it still goes if I wind it or rarely, wear it! Keep it up – I’m saving for your new one! Regards, Andy A

Martyn
Martyn

August 21, 2020

….and long may your passion for excellence continue……

Jim Sieyes
Jim Sieyes

August 21, 2020

Splendid art. Delighted Haskel owner

Howard Rose
Howard Rose

August 21, 2020

Great article. So true about smart watches and life cycle. I ahve three manual watches and the bug fasination for me is hearing two of them tick as i drift off to sleep. Oh! and of course they are all engineering marvles.

Keep up the good work gents.

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