What’s the Difference Between Quartz and Mechanical Watches?

What’s the Difference Between Quartz and Mechanical Watches?

Everything requires something to power it; for instance, our body requires a healthy heart, and a car needs an engine. Similarly, the ticking of the watch resting on your wrist is dependent on a mechanism known as “movement”.


The movement, also termed as caliber, is responsible to move the hands of the watch such that they are synchronous with its set time zone, and the functioning of any complications, such as a Cosmograph.


There are two main types of movements: quartz and mechanical.


What are these? how do they function? and what’s the difference between them? Let’s find out!


Quartz Movement

World’s first Quartz watch @ABlogtoWatch


The quartz movement is dependent on a battery for its working. This battery conveys an electrical signal to a quartz crystal, which gets electrified and creates vibrations. As a result of these vibrations, the movement drives the motor to move the hour, minute, and seconds hand.


Internal mechanism of a Quartz movement @GraytonWatches

  • It doesn’t require much maintenance except for battery replacements.
  • It is the most accurate movement.
  • It is the simplest movement
  • The world’s first quartz movement-powered watch, Astron, was released by Seiko on 25th December 1969.
  • Quartz-powered watches are inexpensive and durable.


Mechanical Movement

World’s First Mechanical Watch

World’s First Mechanical Watch @Oldest


The working of a mechanical watch is dependent on a wound spring. As this spring unwinds, it transfers energy to a component known as the escapement, which oscillates a specific number of times depending upon the design, and forces another component, the gear train, to move the hour, minute, and seconds hand.


Watch enthusiasts aren’t concurrent on who created the world’s first mechanical watch; however, the majority agrees that it was Peter Henlein who designed the Henlein Pocket Watch in 1510.


Now, let’s get back to the basics. As you have read earlier, the mechanical movement depends on a wound spring. The question is, how does it get back to its initial position after it has unwound during the process of energy transference?


Well, there are two ways in which this spring winds again, manual and automatic. Let’s have a look at each of them in detail!


Manual Movement

manual watch movement

Image via Wikipedia


As the name suggests, this movement is manual, which means, the mainspring is wound by hand. The watch wearer can do this by turning the crown of the watch till it becomes immovable.


Now, the next thing that might have popped up in your head is, how long is a winding interval?


Well, this depends upon your watch’s power reserve, which can range from 24 hours to numerous days. Let’s have a look at key features and history of the manual movement:

  • Most of you would have pretty much guessed that the first mechanical watch of the world, the Henlein Pocket Watch by Peter Henlien, was powered manually.
  • In manual movement, the mainspring stores potential energy.
  • It is the most traditional and oldest movement.
  • They are also known as hand-wound movements.
  • The majority of the watches with a manual movement have a see-through case back.


Automatic Watches

Automatic watch Movement

Automatic Movement @Wikipedia


The automatic movement, also known as the self-winding movement, doesn’t require the wearer to wind the watch every now and then.


In this type of movement, the mainspring winds automatically through the kinetic energy generated by the natural wrist movement of the watch wearer.


The first automatic movement was created by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1776. However, this idea wasn’t continued because it was extremely expensive.

Abraham-Louis Breguet

Abraham-Louis Breguet @wikipedia


This movement was simplified and mass-produced for the first time by Fortis in a watch known as Harwood Automatic, which was designed by John Harwood.


What’s the Difference Between Quartz and Mechanical Watches?

What’s the Difference Between Quartz and Mechanical Watches



1 comment

  • Frank

    Thank you this is simple and to the point and it clarified my question.

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