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Why don't (most) mechanical watches have countdown timers?

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    Why don't (most) mechanical watches have countdown timers?

    I've noticed some high-end watches have countdown timers. But why is it that most "affordable" mechanical watches avoid this feature? Is it a difficult function to account for with gears?

    #2
    What do you mean by "countdown timer"? Are you referring to a chronograph function?
    Ben

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      #3
      If I were to wager a guess, he means a power reserve indicator of some sort.
      "You don't need money to dress better than you do" - Salvatore Romano

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        #4
        A countdown timer - like a kitchen timer. "Laundry's gonna be done in 26 minutes! Sure would be great to have a watch that could keep track of the remaining time until my undies are clean."

        (For reference, the TAG Heuer Aquaracer has a countdown function.)

        Edit: Just to clarify, stopwatch functions count up from 0, whereas I'm looking for the opposite - to set it and have it count down until that period of time's done.
        Last edited by pensotroppo; April 23, 2013, 03:05 PM.

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          #5
          The simple answer is that every feature you add to a mechanical watch adds cost, so if features are added, you quickly leave the "affordable" category.

          I think another answer has to do with how affordable mechanical watches remain affordable. A lot are made using existing movements, the most common being from ETA. If ETA isn't putting that function in their more affordable movements, dozens of watches from dozens of manufacturers won't have it.

          That said, I've never really investigated which watches do or don't have this function. I know none of mine do.

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            #6
            Not many watches with that particular feature.

            The simpler a mechanical watch is, the cheaper it is to mass-produce. A mechanical movement's functions are referred to as "complications" - and for good reason. Each added complication requires new gears and other timing mechanisms. Each complication adds significantly to a movement's complexity, weight, difficulty to service, etc.

            For example, you can buy an entry-level Japanese mechanical watch for about $50-100. Hell - you can find brand new Chinese mechanicals on eBay for $15. But the cheapest chronograph - which is a much more complicated movement - will run you around $1000 new, $700ish used if you can find a good deal. Service prices on a chronograph will typically be at least twice as expensive as for a standard three-hand watch.

            A mechanical countdown timer is much more complex and sophisticated than the usual complications in an affordable watch. So even though you can buy a $14 digital watch with timer at Wal-Mart, only high-end luxury watches will feature a countdown timer, or other sophisticated complications, in a mechanical movement.
            Last edited by LesserBlackDog; April 23, 2013, 03:15 PM.
            Ben

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              #7
              Mike and LBD, you both are consistently helpful and erudite. Thank you for providing clarity on this.

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                #8
                Fun fact: The most complicated wristwatch in the world (as far as I can tell) is the Frank Muller Aeternitas Mega 4. 36 complications, yours for a mere $2.7 million.
                Ben

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by LesserBlackDog View Post
                  Fun fact: The most complicated wristwatch in the world (as far as I can tell) is the Frank Muller Aeternitas Mega 4. 36 complications, yours for a mere $2.7 million.
                  Still no countdown timer.

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                    #10
                    You can use a dive bezel to count down. It's typically used for elapsed time (line it up with the current minute hand position). However, you could advance the bezel to where you want it to "end." Then, when the minute hand reaches that point, your predetermined interval has elapsed.

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                      #11
                      Originally posted by LesserBlackDog View Post
                      But the cheapest chronograph - which is a much more complicated movement - will run you around $1000 new, $700ish used if you can find a good deal. Service prices on a chronograph will typically be at least twice as expensive as for a standard three-hand watch.
                      Just a side note, the Seagull 1963 chrono is around $400. But to your point, it seems to have an abnormally high failure rate.

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                        #12
                        Actually, if you contact a seller in HK directly, you can do much better - around $200 or so. The WatchUSeek Chinese watch forum has extensive discussions, and should have current instructions.

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