Learning Watches with Zack:  Ep 1 - Watch Movement Basics

Learning Watches with Zack: Ep 1 - Watch Movement Basics

Episode 1:  

Watch Movement Basics: 3 most common types of watch movements

  • Powered by a battery
  • Runs continuously until the battery dies (typically a few years)
  • More durable and resistant to impact
  • Typically more accurate than hand-wound or automatic
  • Generally less expensive
Quartz Movement

Quartz watches work by passing an electric current from the battery powered circuit through a small quartz crystal. The vibration this creates causes an oscillating movement, which in turn, drives a motor and moves the hands. 

  • Powered by spring (mechanical/no battery)
  • When fully wound, typically runs for about 42 hours if the watch is stationary (not being worn)
  • Automatic winding rotor winds the watch with the motion of the wearer’s wrist
  • Should be accurate within 30 seconds per day, while a COSC chronometer certified movement being more accurate to within -4/+6 seconds per day

Automatic Movement

Automatic watches are mechanical, using no batteries, circuits, etc…  Automatic watches are considered more luxury as they are generally hand assembled and take longer to make with more expertise.

  • Similar to an Automatic movement minus the winding rotor system
  • Much less common these days compared to automatic movements likely due to the convenience of not having to remember to wind your watch.

Hand-wound movement

Prior to Automatic watches being invented, watches had to be wound by hand either via the winding/setting crown or winding key.

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