Know Your Movements: What Makes Your Wristwatch Work

Know Your Movements: What Makes Your Wristwatch Work Blog Banner

The designs of men's watches are characteristically creative. The dial or the design of the mechanism itself is pure art and the movement exerts as much charm as the dial and case. The movement of a wrist watch is one of the most important components of the watch, not to be overlooked. While most buyers pay attention only to the outer exterior of watches, a detail-oriented man appreciates the inner mechanism of a watch. 

The watchmaker spends much of his time carefully attending to the inside of a watch. Those who know the intricacies of watchmaking point out that carefully crafted mechanisms make a masterpiece and distinguish it from a mediocre watch. You need to know the working mechanism of your wrist watches so that you will not be worried when it stops working. It will also help you choose the best watch for you from those available.

What is a watch movement? 

The mechanism that tells the time is called a movement or caliber. It is made up of many small parts such as gears, springs, and more. The movement is the heart of a watch that makes a watch beat and refers to the mechanism that drives the hands on the dial and enables complications such as a calendar, chronograph, or a second time zone. 

Different types of timepieces use different movements.

There are three types of movements: 

1. Quartz Movement - The movement makes the second hand move in single beats. It works on a small battery. 

2. Mechanical Movement – This movement makes the second hand move constantly. The mainspring of the watch must be wound by hand to work, usually every 2-3 days. 

3. Automatic Movement - Kinetic energy from the movement of the wearer's wrist is automatically transferred to power the mainspring inside the watch. 

Explore Watch Movements: Types of Watches

Let’s discuss the three watch movements in detail.

Quartz Movement

The Japanese watch manufacturer Seiko introduced a new technology, the quartz movement in 1969. The introduction of this new technology presented a critical challenge to traditional watchmakers who were powering their watches with mechanical movements. 

In response to this, most established watch manufacturers launched their own versions of quartz watches, ushering in the era of battery-powered wristwatches. Quartz movement is used in a digital wrist watch just like an analog watch. Quartz watches are preferred for regular use because of their greater accuracy and reliability. 

How Does A Quartz Movement Work? 

A quartz watch is powered by a small battery that sends an electrical signal through a piece of quartz crystal. The quartz oscillates 32768 times per second, generating a signal with a precise frequency. The oscillations are measured by the circuit and converted into a single pulse per second. The constant movement of the watch hands is the result of this pulsation. 

Advantages of a Quartz Movement 

There are many pros of quartz movement in a watch. Much cheaper than other watch movements and its longevity makes it affordable for any income group. Look at more such features below.

  • Accurate time: The quartz movement almost never deviates from the exact time and provides excellent accuracy. 
  • User-friendly: Quartz timepieces run on batteries and do not require human intervention to keep the timepieces running. 
  • Low maintenance: The small number of moving parts and the presence of a battery mean that quartz watches require little maintenance. Thus, it can accompany you for 10 to 20 years.
  • Economical: Mechanical and automatic watches require more labor and skill than quartz. Quartz watches are therefore cheaper.
  • Durability: A quartz watch has fewer moving parts that may need repair and is therefore more durable. 

Mechanical Movement 

The passage of time in a watch with mechanical movement is measured by a spring mechanism. The spring (also called the mainspring) must be wound at regular intervals. Mechanical or manual watches perform virtually the same function as those with quartz movement. Apart from the absence of a battery, a closer look reveals something special, an extra excitement that has captivated many watchmakers.  

A mechanical watch consists of complex springs and moving gears that drive the movement of the hands with elegant precision. Some of the rotor mechanisms in these watches work in conjunction with gravity - compressing the mainspring when the wrist moves, generating kinetic energy that powers the self-winding mechanism. Luxury watches collectors prefer watches with mechanical movements.

The complicated mechanism of these watches can often only be described as art. With some hand-wound watches, telling the time becomes a secondary matter, as these classic wristwatches are transformed into something else. They are more like watches, collectibles, and accessories. 

How Does A Mechanical Movement Work?

Unlike quartz movements, a mechanical movement uses the energy of the wound spring to power the watch, rather than a battery. This spring transmits energy through a series of springs and gears to drive the operation of the watch's hands and complications. 

Advantages of a Mechanical Movement 

  • Longevity: A well-built mechanical watch will last a lifetime if cared for properly. 
  • Batteries: There is no need to worry about changing batteries, which is always an inconvenience. Many people consider the manual winding of a simple mechanical wristwatch an extremely desirable ritual. 
  • Aesthetics: Many mechanical watches have a transparent sapphire case back that allows one to see the fascinating rotations and vibrations of the tiny working parts. One sign of a high-quality mechanical watch is its weight-you can feel that it is heavy in your hand.

Automatic Movement 

An automatic watch is a mechanical watch that uses the kinetic energy of the wearer's natural wrist movement. The spring is wound automatically by the natural movements of the wrist. You do not need to wind it manually. The most common black wrist watch comes integrated with quartz or automatic movement.

How does the automatic Movement Work? 

The internal mechanism of automatic movement is similar to that of a mechanical watch movement. Rotor, a metal weight is added to the manual parts of the watch. The rotor is free to rotate and is connected to the movement. The rotor rotates with each movement of the wrist and transfers energy to the spring. The spring is automatically wound by this energy transfer. 

Advantages of an Automatic Movement

  • The ritual of daily winding is eliminated with automatic watches
  • When worn regularly, the watch remains functional. 
  • While mechanical watches are relatively filigreeing and thin, automatic models are usually thicker because of the additional rotors. 
  • Whereas an automatic watch uses a rotor to wind the mainspring to the movement of the user's hand, the Kinetic uses the user's movement to wind the battery that powers the quartz movement. 
  • It offers the best of both worlds: the precision of a quartz watch without the need to change batteries.

Your budget will determine the type of movement to purchase. If you only have little money to spend, a simple quartz watch from a recognized brand will suffice when searching for watches online. Higher up the price scale are the coveted mechanical and automatic wristwatches, assembled with great care and skill.


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