Automatic vs. Quartz Watches
What is a Watch Movement?
At first glance, a watch is simply an elegant work of art, effortlessly tracking the passage of time. Underneath the surface is an intricately designed engine making things work – this is what is known as the watch movement. The movement is what powers the hands and keeps all the elaborate functions of the watch in working order. There are two types of movements, mechanical and quartz, which, in essence, determine how the timepiece functions. Mechanical movements are one of two types – manual (manual-winding) or automatic (self-winding).
What is an Automatic Movement?
Automatic movements refer to watches that use a self-winding mechanism to maintain the time-keeping movement. This is the most common type of movement found in watches. This type of mechanism runs off the motion of the wearer’s wrist, using constant movement to keep the watch running and prevent it from losing time or stopping altogether. As the wearer moves, the watch stores up the energy and releases it from the mainspring through a barrel to the gear trains. This complicated mechanism results in the watch keeping time. This type of movement has been used since the 1700s.
What is a Quartz Movement?
A quartz movement watch relies on a battery in order to power the movement that keeps the time. This movement is the result of a small piece of quartz crystal embedded into the inner mechanics. A battery sends a signal through this crystal, electrifying the crystal and creating a constant vibration. It is this steady vibration that fuels the time-keeping mechanism, allowing the watch to function with consistent accuracy. While the quartz movement technology was invented by Warren Marrison and J.W. Horton in 1927, this technology gained popularity in 1969 when Seiko introduced the first mass-produced quartz movement watch, the Astron.
Automatic VS. Quartz Watches
There is a tell-tale sign for distinguishing automatic and quartz watch– the movement of the small hand. The second hand of a quartz watch moves with the gentle ticking motion associated with clocks, while on an automatic watch it moves with a steady sweeping motion. The difference is subtle but distinct. Weight is another distinguishing factor. While automatic watches bear the weight of the intricate inner workings, a quartz watch uses a lightweight crystal and battery to accomplish the same functions.
There is also a difference in price. Automatic timepieces tend to cost quite a bit more. While this may seem contradictory as the quartz movement watch contains an actual crystal, automatic watches contain a complicated network of moving parts requiring a trained craftsman to assemble and repair. The materials and skill result in a heftier price tag, one that is usually graciously accommodated by true watch aficionados in order to pay homage to the time-honored tradition of horology.
It is also important to note that the batteries in a quartz timepiece will need to be changed fairly often – every two to five years – as opposed to an automatic timepiece. The automatic, however, requires more detailed repairs when something goes. Despite these differences, for many, the choice comes down to accuracy. The steady vibration created by the quartz crystal results in a watch with far superior accuracy, usually to within half a second per day, whereas an automatic timepiece can lose several seconds per day even if the watch is consistently wound.
Find Your Next Watch at BARONS Jewelers
At BARONS Jewelers, we have built a legacy on providing customers with the highest quality of jewelry and exceptional customer care in San Francisco’s East Bay area since 1967. Our Dublin jewelry store is only a short drive away for residents in Pleasanton, San Ramon, and Danville. As one of the only Tacori Diamond Partners on the West Coast, we pride ourselves on our amazing selection of exquisite jewelry, remarkable timepieces, and exemplary service. Let our staff assist in finding the perfect item from our selections. Call us at (925) 344-8317 to make an appointment, or email our staff today at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.