- Manual watches are often flatter than automatic watches
- Popular models: Omega Speedmaster, Panerai Luminor
- Simple, elegant timepieces: A. Lange & Söhne, Nomos, Junghans
What is a manual timepiece?
A manual winding watch is also known as a mechanical watch
, meaning you must wind it yourself to power it. A mainspring is used to store energy in mechanical watches. Unlike an automatic watch
, manual watches do not wind themselves while they're being worn
. However, many automatic movements can also be wound manually. How often you have to wind your watch depends on the number of barrels, the length of the mainspring, and the balance frequency. The higher the oscillation system's frequency, the faster saved energy is used. Using longer or multiple mainsprings allows for longer-lasting power reserves.
An example of a men's watch with a relatively high power reserve is the Panerai Luminor 1950 10 Days GMT Acciaio, which can run for 10 days before needing to be wound. The Lange 31 from A. Lange & Söhne
offers an incredible 31-day power reserve. Pre-owned, this wristwatch costs at least 65,000 euros. New and made of platinum, it costs around 130,000 euros.
How much do manual timepieces cost?
There are manual timepieces in every price range, from affordable watches costing only a few hundred euros to expensive models from famous manufacturers like Patek Philippe
, which cost millions of euros. Although automatic watches
, also known as self-winding watches, are very convenient and wind themselves, countless Swiss and German manufacturers continue to offer manual watches.
One of the most famous manual chronographs
is the Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch
, which was the first watch to reach the moon. You can purchase a pre-owned version for around 2,600 euros, while new watches cost around 3,000 euros. The manufacturer Panerai
is well-known for manual watches with long-lasting power reserves
. German manufacturers such as Junghans, Nomos, and A. Lange & Söhne offer manual watches.
|Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch
||Chronograph, first watch on the moon
|Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio
||In-house caliber, 8-day power reserve
|Panerai Luminor Base Logo Acciaio
||Cult diving watch with a crown-protecting bridge, 56-hour power reserve
|A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1
||In-house caliber, gold or platinum case, decentralized displays
||In-house caliber, simple Bauhaus design
||In-house caliber, square case
||In-house caliber, simple design with subsidiary seconds dial and line indices
|Junghans Max Bill
Manual Watches from Panerai
The cult brand Panerai is well known for their distinctive diving watches
. Originally, the Italian company provided these watches to the Italian marines. Amongst their most famous models are the Luminor, which stands out thanks to its crown-protecting bridge. The Luminor
variants are predominantly manual. The standard version, powered with the caliber OP I (based on Unitas 6497) has a power reserve of 56 hours. Models with reference number PAM01000 are available new starting at around 3,800 euros. If you want a wristwatch that can power itself for up to eight days, then the Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio with the in-house caliber P.5000
is a good choice. New, this manual watch costs around 5,000 euros, though if you have luck, you could find it for less.
Manual Watches from Nomos
The town of Glashütte is the center of watchmaking in Germany. Ferdinand Adolph Lange founded his company in 1845, laying the groundwork for Glashütte's success in the industry today. Aside from A. Lange & Söhne, manufacturers such as Moritz Grossmann, Glashütte Original, and Nomos are all based in Glashütte and offer mechanical timepieces
. In particular, timepieces from Nomos provide excellent value for your money. The Tangente
is one of their most popular series. Nomos' simple designs were inspired by Bauhaus, the German art and architecture school founded by Walter Gropius in 1919. Pre-owned Tangente models in very good condition are available for less than 1,000 euros. New manual models from this series cost around 1,200 euros.
The Tangente, like many other Nomos models, is now also available with an automatic caliber, DUW3001. This movement is only 3.2 mm thick, making it the perfect caliber for elegant dress watches. Timepieces powered by this movement bear the name "neomatik." You can purchase a Tangente neomatik for around 2,300 euros.
The Orion and Tetra series, both available with a manual or automatic caliber, are also quite popular. The Tetra stands out thanks to its square case. A range of colorful dial options are available, giving the watches a playful feel. The 27 x 27 mm version is perfect as a women's watch
. The timepiece features the manual caliber Alpha and costs around 1,000 euros pre-owned and 1,200 euros new. The round Orion is similarly priced, costing 1,000 euros pre-owned and 1,300 or more when new.
Exquisite Watches from A. Lange & Söhne
Manual watches from A. Lange & Söhne are at the other end of the price range. Among the most exquisite German wristwatches available, the timepieces from this manufacturer absolutely hold their own compared to Patek Philippe or Audemars Piguet. The Lange 1 is A. Lange & Söhne's most iconic timepiece. It features decentralized displays, a date display, and is powered by a manual caliber. You can purchase a pre-owned Lange 1 in very good condition starting for around 15,000 euros. If you want to buy a new version, you should be prepared to spend at least 22,000 euros. Currently, the manufacturer exclusively uses gold or platinum as a case material, though stainless steel was used for a short time in the 1990s. Since the stainless steel timepieces are now incredibly rare, they can cost up to 150,000 euros.
Manual Watches from Junghans
Junghans, based in the southern German state of Baden-Württemburg, is another famous watch manufacturer. One of their most popular models was named after the architect and artist Max Bill. This collection's design is markedly simple and, like Nomos watches, inspired by the Bauhaus movement. New models of the manual Junghans Max Bill can be purchased for as low as 500 euros.