Is there a better part of the morning than selecting the watch that will accompany you the rest of the day? Whichever choice you make will be the right one, but not all watches operate the same way. Quartz watches will be ready for use at all hours, tick-tick-ticking the time accurately and without issue. Automatic watches that aren’t placed on a winder will need the time to be set and either a quick shake or a few turns of the crown before ending up on your wrist; the rotor will take care of the rest. Manually wound watches, on the other hand, will require a bit more of an involved and personal approach before they’re ready to take on the day.
If a hand-wound watch ends up as your tool of choice, then a few minutes of dedicated time will be required in the morning to get your timepiece up to its full power reserve. Winding a watch by hand remains one of the most charming and idiosyncratic elements in the watch collecting hobby. It provides a distinct way of engaging with and appreciating your watch that is unlike anything else. A manual watch receives its energy through physical engagement with its wearer. The crown must be wound by hand, and in turn, energy is stored in the movement, which will then be gradually dispersed – second-by-second – the rest of the day. There’s a one-of-a-kind tactile pleasure that comes with the light resistance of the crown, the clicking of the ratchet wheel, and then the sudden transitive effect of the motion of the hands on the dial. It’s one of the few ways that most watch lovers will truly interact with the insides of their mechanical watches, and it’s absolutely one of our favorite aspects of watch collecting as a whole. Additionally, hand-wound movements generally allow for thinner cases, an uninterrupted view of the movement decoration (thanks to the absence of a rotor), and are theoretically simpler to service due to the lack of additional parts that are found in self-winding movements.
Here, we’ve gathered a group of our favorite manually wound watches in the HODINKEE Shop, from all sorts of brands, at all price points. We’re positive that one of these watches will find a way to twist and turn itself into your heart.
The OMEGA Speedmaster
The OMEGA Speedmaster has received countless aesthetic updates and technical upgrades in its 60-plus year history, but our recommendation to truly appreciate this iconic chronograph is through one of its manually wound variations. A perennial HODINKEE favorite is the OMEGA Speedmaster “First OMEGA In Space,” which pays tribute to the Speedmaster CK2998 that was on the wrist of Wally Schirra in 1962, as he orbited the Earth on the Sigma 7 spacecraft. The watch’s compact, sub-40mm diameter and Alpha-style handset make it a compelling and low-profile alternative to the better-known Speedmaster Professional.
Speaking of the Speedy Pro, the classic Speedmaster is available in the HODINKEE Shop with your choice of a sapphire crystal or a more historically accurate hesalite crystal. While hesalite might be the more authentic selection, the sapphire execution offers a glimpse at the hand-wound movement inside, through its exhibition caseback. The caliber 1861 found in the “First OMEGA In Space” and Speedmaster Professional (it’s caliber 1863 in the sapphire edition) is a direct descendant of the legendary caliber 321 that was inside the Speedmasters used aboard the Apollo 11 mission, which is where the Speedmaster earned its Moonwatch nickname. While those watches are considered all-time classics for a reason, if you prefer something with a bit more of a contemporary look, the Speedmaster “Dark Side of the Moon” ALINGHI might just fit the bill. Inspired by the carbon hull of the ALINGHI yacht racing team’s TF35 catamaran, this black ceramic chronograph has an openworked movement that offers a direct view of the laser-ablated caliber 1865 (another variant of the caliber 1861) inside.
The Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical
Alongside the OMEGA Speedmaster, the Khaki Field Mechanical from Hamilton is one of the most popular hand-wound watches among collectors of all types. In the most recent update to the line, Hamilton upgraded its mil-spec classic with the H-50 caliber, an exclusive movement that offers up an 80-hour power reserve, double that of the previous iterations. Other than the Swiss-made movement inside, all the specs you appreciate about the Khaki Field Mechanical are present, including a 38mm stainless steel case, drilled lugs, and a highly legible dial design. Hamilton’s hand-cranker has always had an endless appeal, and the above white dial variant with its untreated leather mil-strap makes it more eye-catching than ever before.
The Timex Marlin
With a price tag under $ 200 and a mid-century design that channels Mad Men-era elegance, the hand-wound Marlin stands out as an easy watch to appreciate. The stylized Art Deco numerals on the velvet blue dial, the subtle 34mm case diameter, and the robust and reliable hand-wound movement inside combine in a one-of-a-kind package that feels both vintage and modern. This is one of the best options out there for those undecided on whether or not a manually wound watch is right for them, but would like to give it a try anyway.
The Autodromo Intereuropa
Autodromo is a New York-based boutique brand that specializes in watches influenced by the automotive lifestyle. Announced in the fall of 2019, the Intereuropa is a new flagship collection that represents several firsts for the company. Inspired by the Berlinetta sport coupés that raced in the Coppa Intereuropa at Monza from 1949 to 1964, the Intereuropa is the first production watch from Autodromo to feature a Swiss movement, with the presence of an ETA 7001 inside, which also makes it the first manually wound watch from the brand. With a svelte 39mm x 9mm profile and a multi-layer dial design available in three different colors (silver-blue, grey, and cream), the Intereuropa expertly toes the line between sporty-casual and urbane-elegance.
The Grand Seiko Manual SBGK007 And SBGK009
Grand Seiko has spent the past few years winning over legions of fans worldwide for its in-house movement production, its flawless case finishing, and the innovative dial designs that populate its catalog. Dress watches have always been a part of the brand’s appeal, but it wasn’t until last year when the Elegance SBGK series – all powered by the new 9S63 hand-wound caliber – debuted that it felt like the brand was conspicuously acknowledging the classical elements of the genre as a whole. That means manually wound movements, slim cases with high polish, and straightforward legibility. The SBGK007, with its silky dial tone, and the SGBK009, with its muted grey dial and nine-link steel bracelet, are two of our current favorite models from the Elegance line-up.
The Longines Heritage Military 1938 Limited Edition
With the Heritage Military 1938, Longines reached into its archive to bring one of its many overlooked designs from the interwar period back to life. The modern watch – a limited edition of 1,938 pieces, naturally – shares many elements with its historic inspiration, including a large, 43mm case diameter and a clean, matte black dial that focuses on only the essential elements of timekeeping, with a pair of pencil-shaped hands, a small seconds display, and bold, blocky Arabic numerals. Inside the individually numbered, closed caseback is the manually wound L507.2, which uses an ETA 6498-2 as its base. This is a somewhat uncommon caliber that was originally used for pocket watches and has a power reserve of 60 hours. The large, onion-shaped crown makes winding the Longines Heritage Military 1939 an absolute joy.
The BVLGARI Octo Finissimo Skeleton
Thinness and an unimpeded view of a watch’s movement are two of the most commonly cited reasons for favoring hand-wound movements over automatic ones. Nowhere are these benefits more apparent than on a skeletonized watch like the BVLGARI Octo Finissimo Skeleton in Rose Gold. The caliber BVL 128SK that fits inside the sandblasted rose gold case measures just 2.35mm in height, yet it offers small seconds, a power reserve display, and an additional five hours of running autonomy compared to the self-winding Octo Finissimo Automatic. One of our favorite aspects of this openworked movement is how the barrel (located near one and two o’clock) is in full visibility. You can actually witness the mainspring tighten with each turn of the crown, which makes this the rare movement with both visual and tactile appeal.
The Vacheron Constantin Historiques Cornes De Vache 1955
The watch that inspired the Vacheron Constantin Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955 had a highly limited production run during the mid-to-late 1950s, that consists of 36 known pieces. Since the model was resurrected in 2015, it has maintained the overall spirit and aesthetic of the original watch, known as ref. 6087, in outstanding fashion. The above example features a brilliant pink gold case with the model’s characteristic cow-horn lugs. Inside is the manually wound caliber 1142, a highly traditional Swiss chronograph that represents nothing less than the finest in Genevois watchmaking. It features stunning hand decoration on every angle and facet, and the column wheel is engraved in the shape of the Maltese Cross, the emblem of Vacheron Constantin.
Discover A New Hand-Wound Watch In The HODINKEE Shop
Automatic movements are the most popular form of mechanical watchmaking today for a reason. They’re a more efficient and complex form of timekeeping that is far more user-friendly to owners – and yet, we can’t quite get over the charming nature of a manually wound movement. It’s an essential aspect of the modern watch collecting experience; one that not only delights through its anachronistic elements, but also allows you to engage and interact with your watches on a more personal level.
We selected the above watches to illustrate the diversity of manually wound watches available today. Whether you’re on the hunt for the perfect manually wound dress watch, or simply looking to explore the different kinds of watch options available at an affordable price, there’s plenty more to discover in the HODINKEE Shop. To explore our entire range of manual watches, click here.