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    On The Prowl

October 11, 2016

Smartwatches vs. Mechanical: Are the old ways the best?

For those of you who have been hiding under a rock, September marked the global product release date for Apple, ranked as the world’s most valuable brand (Forbes 2016) and as part of their updated offering seeing the release of their Series 2 Apple Watch.

Sources indicate that smartwatch vendors shipped 3.5 million units in Q2, down from over 5 million the previous year. Interestingly, of these figures apparently Apple shipped 1.3 million smartwatches so clearly being the major force behind such sales. Most smartwatches price themselves around £600 mark, though are they really what they are cracked up to be? Mr. Woolfe researched into what the pros and cons are so you can sleep easy.

Mr. Woolfe’s 7 key points to consider
  1. Charging issues – consumers find charging their smartwatches difficult or even boring. Choosing an automatic self-winding or kinetic watch simply means a small amount of physical movement to get it ticking.
  1. Technology – as with any hardware or software, things can go wrong. No such issues with mechanical watches, however, the inner workings will be subject to a service around every five or so years
  1. Longevity – servicing means that a mechanical watch in theory will last for a very long time. The materials used   should stand the test of time, with vintage watches out there still functioning with all of their original parts. Lifecyles    for smartwatches are probably eight years max with the battery difficult to replace, so in essence the kit is pretty    much a disposable product.
  1. Cost & Materials – although on the exterior smartwatches can share a mix of metals (steel and precious), the insides are clearly digitally orientated. The collaboration with Apple and Hermes is interesting example of two powerhouse brands aiming for the best in luxury elements, although with obvious limitations. With mechanical timepieces, the sky   is the limit for those who can afford it, so intricacy and use of unique or rare materials is down to the watchmakers imagination.


  1. Versatility – with digital there are multiple capabilities with the techonology covering fitness data, NFC and contactless pay. Having said that, customised add-ons to the caseback of mechanical watches like Chronos or the BarclayPay loop in the leather strap of certain Mondaine watches, bridge such gaps.
  1. Customisation – mechanical watches nowadays can not only demonstrate their exclusivity through being limited or numbered pieces, but also have the ability to be fully individualised. Some great companies include Bamford, Titan Black and Pro Hunter, all unique in their style and quality. Digital does have the ability to accessorise or even change the dials in a much more convenient manner i.e. TAG Heur Connected, however, some other brands lack in HD pixels so therefore detract on the true beauty of the real thing.
  1. Investment – even a decent chronograph by a reputable Swiss brand will mean a mechanical timepiece will appreciate in its intrinsic value providing it is kept in good condition. The same cannot be guaranteed with a digital watch, unless  it has some sort of collectors appeal from its previous owner i.e. celebrity association.


Overall, if you are geared more towards a wear and tear sports or fitness focused watch, the smartwatch might be the option for you and even showing signs of targeting the “Luxe-wear” market for those who wish to spend on expensive materials. However, hands down, if you are looking for sophistication, pedigree and a DNA history of a true timepiece the mechanical watch clearly wins.



One thing to remember is that cost wise a luxury mechanical watch is not out of reach, as renting with Mr. Woolfe allows you to achieve that lifestyle without breaking the bank!