Quartz and automatic movements are often mentioned in the watchmaking industry, but when designing a watch or buying a watch, how do you choose the right movement for you? What is the difference between automatic vs quartz? A battery powers the quartz movement, while the wearer’s wrist movement powers the automatic movement to keep the watch wound and keep time. Both quartz and automatic watches are very accurate, except that quartz watches are accurate to 0.5 seconds, while the best automatic watches have a margin of error of only a few seconds. The average automatic watch has a margin of error of around 30 seconds.

      So when you choose a movement, the accuracy, reliability, performance, design, features and functionality of the movement are all factors you must consider. So which type of watch is best? It depends on what you want from your watch, and we’ve put together a quick guide to quartz vs automatic watches to explain the terms and help you decide.

Table of Contents

Watch movement meaning

       The watch movement (also known as the “caliber”) is the engine of the watch, the power source that runs the watch and its functions. This internal mechanism moves the hands and powers any complication such as a chronograph,gmt,annual calendar or dual time zone.

      Movements are categorized into two types: quartz and mechanical movements, and mechanical movements are further divided into 2 subcategories: automatic and manual movements. For the sake of convenience in this blog post, we will only talk about automatic watch vs quartz, as automatic movements are the most common type of mechanical movements.

Quartz watch meaning

     A quartz watch is a battery or solar cell powered watch, a quartz crystal that vibrates at a certain frequency regulates whose timekeeping. The battery sends an electrical signal through the quartz crystal, and when the electrical signal passes through the crystal, the quartz crystal vibrates at a constant frequency of 32,768 times per second. This constant vibration is the basis of the movement’s timing, regardless of whether the watch has an analog or digital display.
   Quartz watches differ from automatic watches in that they are usually more accurate and can be self-sustaining for 3 years or more. And some complications, like chronograph, dual time zones, etc. can only be realized by quartz watches because it takes the battery of a quartz watch to drive the movement to accomplish these functions.

      Until today, some famous watch brands still keep quartz watches as their product line, such as Omega, Tag Heuer, Longines, etc. As a quartz watch manufacturer, watchessy can help you find the best quartz watch movement from several watch movement manufacturers: Swiss Ronda, Sellita, Japanese Miyota, Seiko, etc.

Automatic watch meaning

       An automatic watch is a watch with a self-winding movement. These watches use the movement of the wearer’s wrist and arm to rotate the oscillating weight, which transfers energy to the mainspring, which then winds the watch. The wearer’s natural movement is sufficiently large to eliminate the need for manual winding. If the wearer does not wear the watch long enough or does not have enough movement, the watch needs to be wound manually by turning the crown.

     The power reserve and jewel bearings vary from one mechanical movement to another. For example, the Sellita SW200-1 movement has a power reserve of 38 hours and 26 jewel bearings. Miyota 9015 movement has a power reserve of 40 hours and 24 jewel bearings. TMI NH35 caliber has a power reserve of 41 hours and 24 jewels.

Quartz vs automatic watch

      So, after knowing what is automatic vs quartz watches are and how they work, then how to choose the right movement for yourself in this quartz watch vs automatic? So we will talk about the difference between quartz and automatic watches and compare them in accuracy, price, watch movement parts, maintenance, power source, etc. to help you make the right decision.

quartz vs autmatic watch

Accuracy:quartz watch vs automatic watch

      Overall, both quartz and automatic watches are accurate. However, most people consider quartz watches to be more reliable because they are accurate within half a second, while automatic watches can be off by a few seconds. For example, the Japanese Miyota 2035 quartz movement has an error of 0.5 seconds per day, while the Miyota 8215 movement has an error of -20 ~ +40 seconds per day.

Watch movement parts

   Quartz movement components are relatively simple. The number of movement parts does not exceed 20, mainly including quartz crystal, battery, coil, etc. Taking the Swiss Ronda 762 quartz movement as an example, the movement component is:

  1. Battery
  2. Contact
  3. Stem (Contacted to the crown)
  4. Circuit
  5. Battery clamp
  6. Quartz crystal
  7. Case screw
  8. Train Bridge
  9. Coil
  10. Plate
  11. Detent
  12. Dial foot (connected to dial)
  13. Watch hand holder

      Tip: did you see “Swiss part” text on the Ronda 762 movement

     That means that the watch movement component is from Swiss but not Swiss made.

mechanical movement component
quartz movement parts

      An automatic movement is a complex device comprising a mainspring, gears, etc. It is usually made up of hundreds of tiny, intricate parts. Balance bridge, Oscillating weight are the main parts. Take the Japanese Miyota 9015 as an example.

1. Setting stem

2. Oscillating weight

3. Screw for oscillating weight

4. Balance brige

5. Jewelry

6. Barrel and train wheel bridge

7. Intermediate reduction wheel and pinion

8. Barrel complete

9. Screw for barrel and train wheel bridge

10. Wheel and opinion

 Because there are hundreds of movement accessories can not be an example, if you want to know more, you can check https://miyotamovement.com/product/9015/.

Price: automatic movement vs quartz

     As seen from the number and fineness of the movement parts above, automatic movements require many skilled and technical workers to assemble them. While quartz movements have fewer accessories and simple assembly procedures, so quartz movements have the vast majority of their assembly by production lines. Therefore, the price of automatic movements is much higher than quartz movements.

Power source

     Quartz watches are powered by batteries, so they last from one to five years. An automatic mechanical movement is powered by the wearer’s natural movement, so it can last for decades.

Maintenace

     Quartz watches are known for their durability, so you don’t need to worry about servicing your watch often. You only need to change the battery when the watch is not keeping time or stops. Automatic movements comprise hundreds of parts that must be kept in good condition in order to work properly, so they need to be serviced once every 3 to 5 years. This maintenance requires a professional watchmaker to dismantle the movement, re-oil and clean the parts as well as replace worn-out parts.

        This table summarise summarize AUTOMATIC vs QUARTZ WATCH difference.

watch band automatic vs quartz watch

Which is better? automatic vs quartz watches

    It depends on preference and what you want from your watch. If you have a high demand for technology and craftsmanship or you want to see the balance wheel of the movement working through the crystal sapphire back of watch case or you are buying a watch as an investment, then an automatic watch is best for you. If you just need a reliable watch that keeps accurate time or your budget is less than $500, then a quartz watch is more suitable for you.

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