How Does a Mechanical Watch Keep the Date?

AP Mechanical Watch Date Window

A mechanical watch is a timekeeping device that uses mechanical movements to measure time, unlike modern quartz watches that function electronically. Most mechanical watch owners are watch enthusiasts who appreciate the various types of movements available.

One frequently asked question is how mechanical watches keep the date. In this article, the experts at CALIBRE will explain the process. 

What is a Mechanical Watch?

Rado Mechanical Watch Date Window

The mechanism of a mechanical watch is relatively simple, comprising a mainspring that is tightly wound and a series of gears that transfer the energy from the mainspring to the balance wheel. The balance wheel is responsible for keeping time by oscillating back and forth at a constant rate. The gears regulate the power transferred to the balance wheel to ensure accurate timekeeping.

How Does a Mechanical Watch Keep the Date?

Most mechanical watches have a small dial on the face that displays the current date, known as a calendar complication. To change the date on a mechanical watch, the watch must first be wound by hand or using an automatic winder. Once fully wound, the date can be set by turning the crown on the side of the watch.

Calender complication

A standard calendar complication typically revolves every 24 hours and usually goes up to 31 days for the month. If the month only has 30 days, the owner of the timepiece must adjust it manually. 

Perpetual calendar

A perpetual calendar, which is more expensive than a standard calendar complication, can account for all months, and the owner does not need to manually change the calendar, even in months like February.

The History of the Mechanical Watch

Historical Mechanical Watch

The first mechanical watch appeared in the 16th century, but it was not until the 19th century that watchmakers began to miniaturize and improve their accuracy. By the end of the 20th century, quartz watches had largely replaced mechanical watches as the timekeepers of choice. However, in recent years, there has been a renewed interest in mechanical watches, and they have become the go-to choice for enthusiasts worldwide. Read our full guide on the inventor of the watch.

Other Useful Watch Guides at CALIBRE