Throughout her fairy tale adventure, Goldilocks was always given three choices, and inevitably one was always “just right” for her. When it comes to purchasing a luxury watch you’re also given three basic choices—quartz, automatic or manual watch movement. So how do you know which movement is “just right” for you? Let’s begin by finding out exactly how each movement works.
The Quartz Watch Movement
A quartz movement is powered by a battery that works in combination with a quartz crystal. The battery life typically lasts about 1-2 years. Quartz movements generally keep the most accurate time, losing only a few seconds per month, and have low maintenance costs (usually the only work needed is a simple battery change).
The quartz movement functions as follows (numbers correspond to the above image):
1. Electricity is carried from the Battery to the Quartz Crystal via the Integrated Circuit.
2. The electricity makes the Quartz Crystal vibrate at a rate of 32,768 vibrations per second.
3. These electrical pulses are sent via the Integrated Circuit to the Stepping Motor.
4. The Stepping Motor sends every 32,768th electrical pulse to the Dial Train.
5. The Dial Train advances the hands on the watch.
The Mechanical Movement
Both manual and automatic movements are mechanical movements. The manual movement is the oldest type of watch movement and dates all the way back to the 16th century. It is usually found in high-end, luxury watches. Manual movements need to be wound in order to generate power for the watch to run. Depending on the power reserve your watch has, you may have to wind the watch as often as everyday.
The manual movement functions as follows (numbers correspond to the above image):
2. The Gear Train transfers the energy to the Escapement.
3. The Escapement meters out the energy into regulated parts.
4. The Balance Wheel uses this regulated energy to beat back and forth at a constant rate.
5. Every certain number of beats, the dial train transfers the energy to the hands of the watch.
6. The hands advance.
The only difference between a manual and automatic movement is that with an automatic, the movement of your wrist powers the watch to keep it running. Watches with automatic movements have a rotor (a rotating metal weight attached to the movement) that is connected to the mainspring. Movement from your wrist turns the rotor, which winds the mainspring, causing it to store energy. Outside of the rotor, an automatic movement operates the same way as a manual one. If you are not going to wear your automatic movement watch, you do need to wind it so that it will have the power to keep running.
What Our Watch Specialists Are Saying:
Choosing a movement depends on your individual needs- whether you plan to wear the watch everyday, whether you are interested in craftsmanship or ease of use, expense, etc. If ease of use is your priority, a quartz movement would best suit your needs. The watch will run whether you’re wearing it or not, and keep more accurate time. The only maintenance it generally requires is probably a simple battery change, where as mechanical watches require maintenance by a certified watchmaker every few years, which can cost somewhere around $300 – $500 or more.
However, if you are a true fan of the art of Swiss craftsmanship, then you are better suited for an automatic or manual watch. The mechanical movement is durable- these watches can last for generations , and has detailed construction You will have to wind the watch to give it power (though not for the automatic if you wear it everyday), but the mechanical movement comes with more prestige and does not lose its value over time.
You can’t go wrong with any of these movements- it’s just a matter of choosing the one that is right for you.
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