There’s something about a watch with a mechanical movement inside. Sure, a battery or solar-powered quartz watch will be more accurate. And a mechanical watch requires maintenance and a deep clean and lubrication every few years. But if you’re looking for a watch to hand down to your kids, you want to give them a tool that is a work of craftsmanship and style. You go to a mechanical watch.
The main difference between a mechanical watch and the rest revolves around its Mainspring, which powers the watch. Self-winding (or automatic) watches take care of winding the spring for you. They tend to be a tad heavier and thicker than manual watches to account for the rotor inside that uses the movement of your wrist to wind the spring automatically. Manual-wind watches are generally lighter and thinner, but they ask that you remember to wind it — usually once or twice a day.
How to choose? Shopping for a mechanical watch takes time and inspiration. It must feel right for you — something you wear daily and something that will outlive you, on your kid’s wrist, and maybe your grandkids. Here are ten new mechanical watches that could be your daily companion, help you start a watch collection, or, most importantly, spark some joy.
The Waterbury Dive Automatic is a vintage-inspired automatic dive watch with an elegant dial at an affordable price. Inside is a Japanese Miyota movement, which you can watch at work in the see-through caseback. Behind the mineral glass crystal is a dark green dial with lumed rectangular hour indices and a window at 3 O’clock for the day and date. It’s water resistant to 100m, and is available with either a stainless-steel bracelet or a leather band. One standout design detail is the stylized “W” at the base of the second hand that looks similar to a trident.
Seiko is the king of the affordable automatic and a solid entry point for people wanting to get into automatic watches. This sturdy diver feels like a tool on the wrist, but the orange dial elevates it style-wise. For easy reading, the hands and hour indices are lumed and there’s a magnifier for the date. It’s water resistant to 100m, the automatic movement is visible in the see-through caseback, and it has a 41-hour power reserve. The crown is at 4 O’clock instead of 3 O’clock––a signature Seiko detail to prevent it from digging into your wrist while doing divey things. The GMT hand allows you to keep time in a second time zone, which is as helpful for the world-traveling diver as it is for sending emails to another time zone.
Tissot makes well-priced Swiss automatic watches, and the new green dial variant of the PRX Powermatic 80 has a stunning look that evokes the best of 1970’s style. The dial’s waffled texture makes it even more interesting to stare at on your wrist. But if you want to look inside, this also has a see-through caseback. It’s water resistant to 100m, so no worries if you take an unexpected dip into a body of water. The power reserve is a generous 80 hours, so you can leave it off the wrist for days and still find it ticking. An anti-magnetic spring, prevents your electronic devices from influencing it, so you’re the only one whose magnetism does the influencing.
Farer is a British boutique brand highly regarded among watch aficionados. The Stanhope II has a unique cushion shape and is the only manual-wind watch on this list. The white dial's pique texture, the crown's bronze detail, and the polished steel case are subtly beautiful choices. The simple dial has numerals at 12, 3, and 9, with a small second hand subdial at six o’clock. The design elegance combined with the thinner and lighter hand-wind movement makes this not just beautiful to look at but perfectly proportioned on the wrist. It’s so desirable, in fact, that there’s now a waiting list to buy one.
Hamilton’s new Navy Frogman Auto is a substantial 46mm in diameter, so it’s good for bigger wrists and for great underwater legibility. This is a serious tool watch: water resistant to 300m and equipped with a steel crown protector so you can put it through some abuse without harming the screw-down crown. It has a sapphire crystal over a matte black dial with muscular hands, a Hamilton automatic movement, and an excellent 80-hour power reserve.
French watchmaker Yema makes watches for the French military and space agency, and this diver has a vintage European look and case size (39mm). It’s water resistant to 500m, far exceeding what the human body can withstand even with serious scuba gear. The in-house automatic movement has a 42-hour power reserve, and the signature Yema bezel lock allows you to lock the rotating bezel in place so you don’t bump it under water and misread your oxygen timing. Another cool feature is that even with the crown unscrewed, it’s still water resistant to 30m, so you can set it while treading water on the surface. The domed sapphire crystal adds to the vintage look and is available on a steel bracelet or rubber or leather bands.
The Aquitaine line of dive watches is named for the French coastal region home to explorer Jacques Cousteau. Inspired by the dive watches of the 1950’s, there’s a steel automatic version, a GMT version, and a bronze version. The face of the watch and the “exhibition caseback” both have sapphire crystals, and it is water resistant to 200m. Unlike the watchmaker’s other offerings, the name “Christopher Ward” is not printed on the dial; in its place is a simple graphic logo at 12 O’clock. The bezel has a polished sapphire insert, which adds luxury beyond a steel bezel and strength beyond a ceramic bezel. It’s Swiss made, with a self-winding automatic movement and a 56-hour power reserve.
A new revival of Longines’ 1960’s dive watch, this robust 43mm diver is minimalistic in design. In function, it is Ultra-chrono certified for accuracy in case you need to justify spending four figures on a watch. Its high-frequency automatic movement yields a smoother sweep of the second hand and greater accuracy overall. It’s available with a leather strap or stainless-steel bracelet, with both versions also including a nylon NATO strap.
A simple, classic dive watch at first glance, the standout unique feature on the 1858 is its hand-free GMT. Instead of an extra hand on the dial, a red dot moves along a fixed hour bezel to indicate the second time zone. On the back of the steel case is an intricate world map with all global time zones marked for reference. The hands and indices are lumed, as are the numerals at and 6, 12, and 9 (3 O’clock has a date window instead of a numeral). The Swiss self-winding movement has a 50-hour power reserve.
Oris is notable for the fact that the Swiss watchmaker has retained its independence since 1904, while other legacy Swiss brands (Rolex excluded) have all mostly been conglomerated. This new Propilot variant’s angled titanium bracelet links, fluted titanium bezel, and simple blue dial are somehow perfectly modern and vintage at the same time. Whether you want to dress it up or beat it up, it’s the perfect watch. And for most wrists, the 39mm case size is the perfect size. The in-house movement has a 5-day power reserve and a 10-year warranty, but this is one you’d wear for a lifetime and pass on to your kids.