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May 21, 2024 4 min read

When buying a watch, the movement type is crucial. This guide explains the differences between quartz and automatic watches, helping you make the right choice.

The difference between quartz and automatic watches is how they work and how much care they need.

  • Quartz watches run on batteries, making them very accurate and easy to take care of, great for daily wear.
  • Automatic watches get their power from your movements, which means they need more attention but are loved for their classic style and detailed mechanics.

If you are looking for a simple and reliable solution, then a quartz movement is what you are looking for.

The rest of this article will explain in more detail the types of movements, give a brief history or watch movements and tell you their pros and cons. But if you were looking for a simple answer, we hope you got it already.

Now let’s delve deeper into the world of watch movements.

Movement of the wooden watch Klitten.

A Brief History of Watch Movements

Watch movements have evolved significantly since their inception, reflecting advances in technology and engineering. A summary of the key developments in the industry would be:

  • Early Mechanical Movements (16th Century): Watchmaking began with mechanical movements requiring manual winding to power the mainspring. This spring would slowly unwind to move the hands at a consistent pace.
  • Advent of Automatic Movements (Late 18th Century): In 1770, Abraham-Louis Perrelet invented the first automatic movement, which used a rotor system to wind the mainspring through the wearer’s natural movements. This technology has since been refined for greater reliability.
  • The Quartz Revolution (1960s): A major breakthrough occurred with the development of quartz movements, which use a battery to oscillate a quartz crystal at a precise frequency, significantly enhancing accuracy and reducing costs. The Seiko Astron 35SQ, launched in 1969, was the first commercially available quartz watch.

This progression from mechanical to quartz movements separated the watch industry in a more traditional branch and a more innovative one.

The Swiss watchmakers were the example of the former while Japanese brands like Seiko, Citizen or Casio opt for the latter.

The Quartz Movement

How Quartz Movements Work

Quartz movements are also known as battery movements or battery operated movements, and that is just a big clue on how they work.

A quartz watch uses a battery to send an electrical signal through a piece of quartz, which vibrates at a precise frequency of 32,768 times per second. These vibrations are counted by the circuit and converted into a single pulse every second, driving the motor to move the watch hands at a steady rate.

Advantages of Quartz Watches

  • Accuracy: Quartz watches are more precise than mechanical ones, often only losing or gaining a few seconds each month compared to the several minutes that might be lost with automatic watches.
  • Low Maintenance: They don't need winding and have fewer parts that can wear out, making quartz watches simpler to maintain. Battery changes are only needed every few years.
  • Affordability: Generally, quartz watches cost less than mechanical watches. That doesn’t mean they are lower quality.

Solar-Powered Watches: The Eco-Friendly Quartz Alternative

Men Walnut Wooden Watch Sonnenberg
Men Walnut Wooden Watch Sonnenberg.

Solar-powered watches, like those in our Sonnenberg Collection, use a solar panel under the watch face to convert light into electricity that is then stored in a rechargeable battery.

This process reduces environmental impact by practically getting rid of the need for battery replacements, which was one of the biggest flaws of Quartz watches for us at Zeitholz.

Why Should You Buy A Quartz Watch

Quartz watches are ideal for individuals who value precision and simplicity. They are particularly suited for everyday wear as well as for those who do not want to go through the routine maintenance that an automatic watch requires.

The Automatic Movement

Mechanical Movements: Manual and Automatic

Mechanical watches are powered by a spring mechanism that moves the watch hands. They are completely mechanical, containing no electronic parts. How this spring is winded is what tells the difference between manual or automatic movements.

  • Manual Watches: These require you to wind them by turning the crown, tightening the spring which slowly releases to power the watch. Frequent winding is necessary.
  • Automatic Watches: Also known as self-winding, these use a rotor that moves with your wrist's motion to wind the spring automatically.

Why Are Automatic Watches So Loved

Automatic watches are valued for their craftsmanship and the heritage they represent. They feature visible, moving parts, showcasing their mechanical complexity and are linked to a long history of watchmaking innovation.

Maintenance for Automatic Watches

Automatic watches need to be worn regularly or placed in a watch winder to stay wound.

On top of that, they tend to need regular professional servicing every few years, to maintain accuracy and extend the watch's life. They should also be handled gently to prevent damage from shocks.

Quartz vs Automatic: A Side-by-Side Comparison

Feature Quartz Watches Automatic Watches
Price Generally less expensive Typically more expensive
Accuracy High accuracy; loses only a few seconds per month Less accurate; can gain or lose several minutes per month
Maintenance Low maintenance; battery changes needed every few years Higher maintenance; regular winding and servicing needed
Craftsmanship Functional and practical with modern technology High craftsmanship; showcases mechanical complexity

How to Choose Between Quartz and Automatic

Choosing the right watch depends on several factors:

  • Personal Preference: The aesthetic pleasure derived from watching a mechanical watch's gears turn can be significant.
  • Lifestyle: If you're active, a quartz might be preferable due to its ruggedness.
  • Budget: Quartz watches are generally more budget-friendly. A Zeitholz Watch would delight any person dear to you (including yourself) for a couple hundred Euros or less.

Both quartz and automatic watches offer unique benefits, so the best choice depends on your personal needs, preferences, and the value you place on the craftsmanship of watchmaking.

Consider how the watch will fit into your lifestyle, its maintenance, and upfront costs before making a purchase. Let this guide serve as a compass to guide you through your journey of selecting the perfect timepiece.

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