Types of Watch Movements: A Comprehensive Guide

Watch movement is one of the most important factors that affect the quality of a watch. This is because watch movement determines not only the timekeeping capabilities of a watch, but also its accuracy, durability, and style. So if you’re looking to invest in a watch, it’s important to understand all the different types of watch movements available and which one is best for you. In this blog post, we’ll provide a comprehensive introduction to all of them so that you can make an informed decision. Happy reading!

Note: We have previously discussed the different types of watch crowns in a separate post. Be sure to check it out after reading this one as it will provide a better understanding of the connection between mechanical movement and the crown.

Let’s now go over the various watch movement types.

Basically, the two primary types of watch movements are mechanical watch movements and quartz watch movements. The mechanical movement is then divided further into manual and automatic movements.

Mechanical Movement | Manual & Automatic

The mechanical movement does not require a battery to run. Both manual and automatic mechanical movements use gears, springs, and whirling disks to keep time. 

How does a mechanical movement work?

A mechanical movement is powered by kinetic energy. Turning the crown generates energy. The kinetic energy generated by winding the crown is transferred to the coil-shaped mainspring, which stores the energy by getting compressed. Through a series of small gears, the gear train transfers the stored energy from the mainspring to the escapement.

A Back Side of Watch Showing the Movement.

The escapement manages energy release; it transfers energy from the mainspring to the balancing wheel in equally distributed proportions. The balance wheel receives energy from the escapement and oscillates in a circular motion between 5 and 10 times per second. Finally, the dial train, the second set of gears, transmits the regulated, equally measured energy from the balance wheel to the watch’s hands, causing them to move at the right intervals to keep the time.

The mechanism is similar in both manual and automatic movements, with the exception that the automatic movement includes a rotor, which is a small metal weight connected to the mainspring by a series of gears. The rotor swings freely in 360 degrees and automatically winds the mainspring when the wearer moves their wrist. When the mainspring is fully wound, the built-in clutch prevents it from further winding.

The Manual Movement

A manual watch movement is the oldest type of mechanical movement, and it connects you to watch history. It is usually found in expensive and high-end watches. Watches with manual movements are known for their unique style, durability, and unmatched craftsmanship. These watches are powered by the mainspring, which must be wound by hand on a daily or weekly basis depending on the spring and power reserve. Some high-end manual movement watches provide a 10- to 30-day power reserve.

The Automatic Movement

The automatic watch movement is powered by the wearer’s movement. The first automatic pocket watch was invented in 1776 by Abraham-Louis Perrelet- and it was called a chronometer. The Englishman John Hardwood invented the first wristwatch with an automated movement in 1924. Watches with automated movements are more accurate than manual movement watches, and they are less expensive too.

backside of watch

Some benefits of the mechanical watches

  • Mechanical watches are more durable than quartz watches and can last a lifetime if properly cared for and maintained.
  • They’re often more stylish too, and add an element of elegance and sophistication to any outfit. 

Maintenance of mechanical Watch

A mechanical watch requires regular servicing and maintenance if it is to last a long period. It should be serviced every 5 years, according to experts. As time passes, the parts of the movement become dry due to friction between them. Therefore, proper lubrication is required to avoid breakage.

Quartz Movement

The quartz movement runs on a battery. Quartz movement is the most affordable and accurate type of watch movement. It was invented in 1969 by the well-known watch manufacturing company “Seiko.”

Seiko Quartz Movement

The first quartz watch is the Seiko Quartz Astron 35SQ. The battery in a quartz watch typically lasts one to two years.

How does a quartz movement work?

As I mentioned above, quartz movement is powered by a battery. A battery produces an electric charge. The integrated circuit then transfers the charge from the battery to the quartz crystal. In a quartz movement, quartz crystal acts as a balancing wheel. When electricity is applied to quartz, it vibrates at a rate of 32,768 per second and produces voltage.

The electrical impulses are then converted into mechanical power by the steeping motor. The stepping motor sends every 32,768th electrical pulse to the dial train. Finally, the dial train causes the hands to run. 

Some benefits of the quartz watches

  • When compared to mechanical watches, quartz watches are less expensive.
  • Because quartz watches are powered by a battery they have a higher rate of accuracy than mechanical watches.
  • Quartz watches maintenance is cheaper than the maintenance of mechanical watches

Maintenance of quartz watch

In maintenance, mostly you need to change the battery. Any watch shop can change the battery for a small fee. You should also change your battery as soon as it starts to slow down. Leaving a drained battery in a watch for an extended period of time might cause serious damage to the movement if the battery corrodes and leaks onto it.

Which type of watch movement is best for you?

When it comes to watches, movement is key. And the type of movement you choose is important too! Considering your needs and preferences is the first step in making an informed purchase. Knowing the differences between them also helps you in making the right choice for you. Quartz watch movements are the most popular and are battery-powered. They’re also relatively affordable and easy to maintain. Mechanical watch movements, on the other hand, are powered by gears and springs and do not require any battery replacement. They are more expensive and a little difficult to maintain, but they have a longer lifespan and a more classy appearance. In short, every movement has some benefits and some drawbacks. So, which movement is perfect for you depends entirely on your needs and preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Difference Between Mechanical And Quartz Watch Movements?

The basic difference is that mechanical movement does not require a battery to operate; it is powered by kinetic energy generated by manual crown winding or wearer’s movement, whereas quartz movement is powered by a battery.

Is Quartz Movement More Accurate Than Automatic Movement?

Quartz movements have a high accuracy rate and only lose a few seconds over a year, whereas automatic movements lose it in a few days. Because quartz movements are battery-powered, they have a power reserve that lasts for years, whereas automatic movements start losing power as soon as they are taken off, as a result, you have to set the time again when you wear a watch after a few days.

Why Do Quartz Watches Tick?

When the stepping motor transfers the electrical impulse to the gear train, an anchor in the gear train stops the second hand from spinning around the dial, which is why you hear a ticking sound.

Do Mechanical Watches Last Forever?

This question can be difficult to answer as it depends on a variety of factors such as usage and maintenance. Generally, mechanical watches will last many years with proper care, but they also need to be serviced from time to time.

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