ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Understanding Watch Movement: Quartz Versus Mechanical

Updated on August 5, 2012
A Breitling MPH watch
A Breitling MPH watch

Thanks to advances in modern watch technology, most watches that you find on the market these days employ sophisticated techniques to keep timepieces in good working order. One of the main things that differentiate various types of watches is the way in which their movements are powered: either by quartz or mechanically.

Quartz Movement in Watches

Entry-level luxury watches will most likely feature quartz movement. The movement components in these watches do not move. Instead, a small quartz crystal is used in combination with a battery to emit electrical signals at a specific frequency. This frequency is used to keep the hands of the watch ticking at accurate intervals. Because the movement of the watch is powered by battery, quartz watches never need to be wound.

The accuracy of the electric quartz signals enable these types of watches to keep time better than watches with mechanical movements. As a result, you will find yourself readjusting the time on a quartz watch less often than you would with a mechanical watch. In fact, you will most likely only lose one minute over the course of a year if you have a quartz watch. Because of this advantage, quartz is still used in many luxury watches, especially those at the lower end of the luxury spectrum, like certain Tissot watches and Citizen watches.

Gears in a mechanical watch
Gears in a mechanical watch

Mechanical Movement in Watches

For higher-end luxury watches — like those priced at one thousand dollars or more — mechanical movements are the standard. This might seem counter-intuitive since quartz watches are actually more accurate than mechanical watches. However, when it comes to watchmaking, traditions can be much more important than the latest technologies. The best luxury watchmakers have been practicing their craft for hundreds of years (just one example: Vacheron Constantin, the oldest manufacturer of luxury Swiss watches, was established in 1755), and the mechanical movements used in these timepieces represent an important legacy.

Nowadays, mechanical technology still embodies the traditional ways of watchmaking but has been developed to the point of being ultra sophisticated. The principal component of a mechanical watch is the mainspring. This spring works by storing energy that will eventually move the hands of the watch. Energy is stored every time the watch is wound, the winding motion tightens the coil of the mainspring. As the spring unwinds the gears are moved, and as the gears move, so do the hands.

Most modern mechanical watches must be wound every one to two days. Once the spring has fully unwound, releasing all of its potential energy to the gears inside of the watch, the hands will stop moving until the watch has been wound again.

The best watchmakers are continually trying to come up with better ways to configure the intricate system of gears and springs that allow a mechanical watch to function without a battery.

Is an Automatic Watch for Me?

An automatic watch can be a great choice when you want one watch that you will wear everyday. However, due to the fact that an automatic watch is powered by the swaying of your arm, you may find that your watch does not keep time and dates accurately if you do not wear it regularly.

Automatic Mechanical Watches

One important innovation in mechanical watch technology is the invention of automatic mechanical watches. Automatic watches use the energy produced by the natural swaying of the wrist in order to power a small spinning device that is housed inside of the watch, with the springs and gears. As this device spins, it winds up the watch's mainspring without requiring the watch to be manually wound.

As mentioned before, mechanical watches (both manual and automatic) are less accurate than quartz watches, leading them to possibly gain or lose several minutes within a month. Because of the complex collection of moving parts in these pieces, owners of mechanical watches tend to get their watches serviced at least once every five years. A well-serviced, well-crafted mechanical watch can stay in perfect working condition for generations.

A Final Word

Whether you are considering a quartz or mechanical watch, you'll probably notice that there are many different types of luxury watches in various styles. To make shopping easier, you can keep in mind that quartz watches tend to be found within the entry-level luxury range whereas mechanical movements are found in higher-end pieces that emphasize master craftsmanship.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Taranwanderer profile image


      6 years ago

      Great luxury watch tutorial - short and to the point. Nice.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)