Hand-wound movements aren’t as popular today as they once were, but for many of us they’re a satisfying alternative to the ubiquitous auto-winders and quartz.
The first thing most watch-heads will tell you they like about hand-wound movements is the unobstructed view of the bridges, gear train, escapement, and myriad other dazzling parts that typically hide behind an auto-winder’s rotor. With solid case-backs—which dominated the era when hand-wound movements were the norm—you’ll rarely see the thing, but behind a clear case back window a hand-wound movement is a thing of true beauty.
Many also enjoy the winding ritual. It’s one of those little moments in a day when we interact with just our watch, literally delivering our own energy into the mainspring where it can be stored and used up at whatever rate the movement beats at. The faster we careen into the digital era, the more significant these little analog rituals become. My better half considers winding a quiet way to recenter herself, to connect with something simple, real, and benign.
Lastly, hand-wound movements are often smaller than automatic winders, and this allows for a range of refined designs that aren’t always possible with the larger movements.
We’ve rounded up ten excellent hand-wound watches that cost $1,500 and less, each one a true pleasure to wear and wind.