Automatic vs. Quartz Watches | Samuel James Watches
Posted on September 14 2018
When you’re shopping and in the market for a new wrist watch, you may see terms such as “mechanical watch” or “quartz watch” and might not know what that all means. These are actually two types of watch movements, known as a caliber, which forms the mechanism of a watch. It’s essentially what makes a watch tick and is widely considered as a watches’ beating heart.
So, what’s the difference between the two? What are the advantages and disadvantages associated with each? Although it ultimately comes down to your individual preferences, this blog will outline the differences of each to help you make a decision on which would work best for you.
Mechanical vs. Quartz: Movement
One of the main differentiating factors between a mechanical and quartz watch is its calibre. While a quartz watch is powered by a battery, a mechanical watch gains its power from trains of gears and wound springs. Generally, both mechanical and quartz watches have the ability to tell time reliably and accurately. However, quartz watches are considered superior when it comes to accuracy, measuring time to within half a second per day. When it comes to watch movement of the mechanical, the timekeeper’s precision can be impacted by a variety of factors such as gravity and magnetic fields.
So if mechanical watches are considered “less perfect” when it comes to precision, why are they coveted and many times, more costly than an “always perfect” quartz watch? Similar to how one prefers the imperfections of a vinyl record, a film camera, or polaroid, watch connoisseurs appreciate the complex craftsmanship and sophistication behind the clockwork of an automatic watch.
Mechanical watches can also be broken down into two movement types: automatic and hand-wound. Automatic watches are self-winding, meaning the mechanism of the watch is automatically wound through the movement of the wrist when worn, while hand-wound watches require the wearer to wind the watch crown to power the watch’s movement. While automatic watches comprise most of the luxury mechanical watches on the market, there are still devotees who prefer the elegance associated with a hand-wound timepiece.
Mechanical vs. Quartz: Weight
Mechanical and quartz watches also differ in their weight. Mechanical watches can be comprised of hundreds of steel parts, which will make them heavier on the wrist compared to quartz watches. The complexity of the watch’s movement such as chronographs, perpetual calendars, or alarms can also add to the watch’s weight. For those looking for a lightweight watch, a quartz watch is the way to go. For those who prefer additional functions and like the feeling of a heavier watch, a mechanical one will suit your needs.
Mechanical vs. Quartz: Maintenance
Generally, quartz watches are considered fairly low maintenance. As many are battery operated, you simply need to replace the battery once it dies. We recommend bringing your watch to a professional to get this done.
On the other hand, a mechanical watch is comprised of many components, which can range between 50 to 300 working parts, depending on the movement and complexity of the piece. The intricate details and tiny, microscopic components of mechanical watches is part of why they’re so intriguing. Many mechanical watches feature a window on the face that allow you to observe the unique, fascinating movement of the components.
However, there is greater care that goes into maintaining a mechanical watch to ensure its accuracy is maintained. Generally, it’s recommended to get your mechanical watch serviced every 3 to 7 years depending on its age and brand to keep it in well working order.
Hopefully, this blog helped you develop a greater understanding of the differences between mechanical and quartz watches when it comes to its movement, weight, and maintenance. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference as one is not necessarily better than the other. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance watch with functionality as well as practicality, then a quartz watch will fit the bill. If you’re looking for something that is more traditional with impressive mechanical technology, visually beautiful and complex, and does not run on batteries that need to be replaced, a mechanical watch will be the timepiece to last you a lifetime.