The ultimate watch guide about automatic vs. Quartz watches! Everything you need to know about movements and how they work. And in addition a purchase recommendation: which movement fits to me?
When buying a new wristwatch, you often think three times about which features should make up the new timepiece. Mostly one thinks about the price category, the suitable brand, the design and also about the "drive type". The type of drive? Exactly. If you buy a watch, you should know how it ticks. There are serious differences here.
But what exactly distinguishes quartz, automatic and mechanical movements?? Which one is most suitable for me? And what are the advantages and disadvantages?? Especially newcomers do not see the forest for the trees in the jungle of watches more. I introduce you to the different types of movements in more detail!
Actually you could make it short. In layman’s terms, a quartz watch runs on a battery. A watch with a mechanical movement must be wound by hand to set the movement in motion. Strictly speaking, an automatic watch is no different, except for the fact that it carries out this process itself. So far, so good! But why are there so many different types of movements?? And how does it work with all types of drive that the clock shows the time correctly??
How a manually wound movement works..
The mechanical movements are certainly the more classic way to tell the time. Little has changed in the way this works over the last century. A watch movement needs an energy storage. Mechanical watches use a spring for this purpose, which is installed in the mainspring barrel. The length of the spring basically determines the power reserve. This time information from watch manufacturers indicates the time after which the watch must be rewound, i.e. the energy is added to the movement again. most watches have a power reserve of 38 or 40 hours. Significantly longer running times are nothing unusual nowadays.
The oscillating system sets the time. The heart of any watch movement receives the energy of the mainspring via a gear train. The oscillating system consists roughly of an escape wheel, the anchor and the balance wheel. The balance frequency is usually determined by the number of vibrations per hour (A/h). By the way, you can see how large this frequency is by looking at the movement of the second hand. The more fluidly it moves, the higher the frequency of the semi-oscillations. A watch is wound by turning the crown until the spring is fully tensioned
What exactly is the difference between a manually wound watch and an automatic watch?? Correct, with an automatic watch, the winding of the movement via the crown is not necessary, provided that the watch is worn daily. This is due to a sophisticated winding system within the watch movement. You can see it for example in a watch with a transparent glass back. Here you can usually see a semi-circular winding rotor, also called an oscillating weight. This vibrates when the watch is worn and thus tensions the spring, thus recharging it by itself. Therefore, it is quite sufficient to wear the wristwatch every day. It is only necessary to wind the movement by hand when the power reserve has been exhausted.
How a quartz movement works..
In the watch industry, quartz watches are the great revolution of the past century. Inexpensive mass production was much more affordable than the manufacture of complicated mechanical movements in a manufactory. This enabled the worldwide triumphal march, starting from asia.
The energy storage of a quartz movement is a small button cell, i.e. a battery. The life of such a battery is usually several years. When the batteries are used up, they usually have to be replaced. The beat of a watch quartz movement is not set by an oscillating system, but by the quartz that gives it its name. the quartz crystal begins to oscillate as soon as it comes into contact with electrical voltage. Since the oscillation frequency is significantly higher than that of an automatic movement, quartz watches are usually somewhat more accurate.
The comparison: automatic vs. quartz watches. What suits me better?
The rough function of a quartz movement and an automatic movement is now known. Now it’s about the crucial question: which movement suits me better?? In comparison automatic vs. Quartz watches we will find out together. First of all it should be said that there is no clearly better variant. It always depends on how much money you want to spend and what you use the watch for.
The advantages and disadvantages of an automatic watch – in comparison vs. Quartz watches
A good quality automatic watch lasts virtually for eternity. At least over several generations. While batteries must be replaced at some point and the electronics of a smartwatch give up the ghost, a watch with automatic movement is very durable. Nevertheless, you should give it some care and have the watch serviced and checked every few years by a watchmaker. Cleaning the movement and replacing the lubricating grease will significantly extend the life of your timepiece.
Suitable as an investment
High-quality mechanical watches often have a high prestige among their owners. This is also due to the fact that the renowned manufactures such as rolex, omega and co. Prioritize automatic movements in your luxury watches. The movements are mostly made in swiss production, which is considered a special seal of quality. Of course, this has its price. the art of watchmaking is a job mastered by only a few people. So if you’re planning to buy a timepiece that will last for decades and perhaps even increase in value, you’ll have to dig deep into your pockets. in return, you get a timeless watch with a lot of charm that will become a real favorite.
Automatic vs. Quartz watches
automatic watches have to make sacrifices in terms of accuracy compared to their competitors with quartz movement. Every day the time becomes a few seconds less accurate. If you want to be on the safe side and be able to read the time exactly, you should set the watch anew every week.
An automatic movement needs space. And much more than a small tuning fork made of quartz. mechanical watches, especially automatic watches, are therefore much bulkier and heavier than quartz watches. Nevertheless, there are also enough people to whom just that is important. But here again it depends on the intended use: do you want to wear the watch more in everyday work or sports or any occasion?
Automatic movement: all advantages and disadvantages at a glance
+ high durability with thorough care
+ prestigious and valuable objects
+ with manual winding, the case can be built flatter because of a missing rotor than
with an automatic watch
– requires thorough care
– expensive entry prices
– accuracy cannot compete with quartz movements, the watch must be set often
The advantages and disadvantages of a quartz watch
Especially beginners should take a closer look at quartz watches. They are quite inexpensive compared to automatic watches. Qualitatively decent watches are already available for prices below 100 euro. If you are not yet familiar with watches, you can do little wrong with a quartz watch in this price segment. This is also true for those who want to give the watch as a gift.
Quartz watches are also relatively durable. However, after a few years you have to replace the batteries. But it doesn’t need much more maintenance either. A good quartz watch can last so many years. If you don’t wear a watch that often, you don’t have to rewind it every few days. A quartz watch runs and runs. And even very accurate.
However, the battery change has a decisive disadvantage. You have to open the case. This affects the water resistance of the watch significantly. Who does not want to do without wearing a watch in contact with water, must check the water resistance at the latest here regularly or think about the change to a mechanical watch. Many mechanical watches are water resistant up to a pressure of 5-10 bar. Nevertheless, quartz watches are often advantageous in nature and in sports. Mostly they are smaller and lighter. If something should really happen, the quartz watch is much easier to replace. Quartz watches are not necessarily recommended as investments. If you spend little money, you can’t expect a big increase in value.
Quartz watches – all advantages and disadvantages at a glance.
+ usually much more favorable
+ smaller and lighter construction, because quartz and battery are space-saving
+ maintenance includes only the replacement of the battery – are not necessarily suitable as a value investment
– often only conditionally waterproof
– less longevity compared to high quality automatic watches
my conclusion – automatic vs. Quartz watches
There is a watch for every person in the world – with quartz or mechanical movement, hand-wound or automatic. It is important to consider for which purpose which type of movement makes the most sense. In the end, it is always a matter of taste. We rarely wear watches to tell the time. We want to show style and status and have fun with the watches. Whether rational decisions play a big role, is probably another question..