If you’re fascinated with time, the passage of time, the clock mechanism, the history of time-keeping, or anything else associated with the study of the measurement of time, you are interested in horology.

The study of time, or horology, is a fascinating topic that involves hourglasses, watches, clocks, sun dials, marine chronometers, atomic clocks, and even clepsydras, or water clocks.

For those of us a little less obsessed with time-keeping, we still need a good understanding of watches to know which kind we should consider buying.

One of the key components of determining the right watch is knowing the type of movement of a watch. This will often be the determining factor for choosing the type of watch to purchase.

Watch Movement Definition

A clockwork movement is known as a caliber. This caliber is the mechanism that runs the clock or watch. In a quartz movement watch or clock, however, this mechanism is usually referred to as a module instead of a caliber.

Watch Movement Types

different types of watch movements

Image via EigherWatch

There are several watch movement types. Most of us never think about the movement of a watch, until after we purchase a watch and have to figure out how to set it.

If, however, you understand your watch movement before purchasing, you can pre-determine which kind of watch is ideal for your activities and preferences, as well as the look and style you’ll be achieving.

A Brief History of Watches

The mechanical movement is the original watch movement. Watches originated as small, portable clocks, too large to wear, but that could be carried in a pocket or reticule.

These portable clocks evolved into watches that could be worn around the neck like a pendant. This style of timepiece originated in the 16th Century when Peter Henlein created his Nuremberg eggs. We do know that these Nuremberg eggs were Henlein’s, but it’s debated whether or not Henlein actually invented the watch since other watches of similar style appeared around the same time.

It’s believed that pocket watches were birthed as a direct result of Charles II of England introducing waistcoats in 1675. This enabled men to carry watches in a pocket, rather than needing to wear them around the neck.

From pocket watches, of course, other watches developed and improved, and shrank in size. Ultimately, we have the modern wristwatch made by such experts as Cartier, Omega, Tag Heuer, and Rolex. Inexpensive, accessible watches suffice for many, however, and can be purchased just about anywhere.

Mechanical Movement

Mechanical movement watches are considered to be the only watches worth having by various discerning watch owners. Luxury watches do come in most watch movements, but you’ll find that the luxury Swiss watchmakers mostly still offer adapted versions of their original watch models that date back to the 1800s.

Mechanical watches use a series of clock parts to run their mechanisms, including:

  • Mainspring
  • Gear train
  • Balance Wheel
  • Escapement mechanism
  • Indicating dial

Each of these components is vital for the functionality of the watch. The mainspring, for example, is the power source for a mechanical watch. The spring is wound by hand, or by rotor, and creates tension, which is released through the balance wheel and escapement mechanism.

Automatic Movement

An automatic watch movement for a watch is a mechanical movement that does not need to be manually wound.

Instead, the rotor that’s part of the watch is powered by the movement of the wrist of the person wearing it. This kinetic energy is then transferred throughout the mechanism and keeps the watch running for as long as it is consistently worn.

Quartz Movement

The movement we’d like to look most closely at is the quartz movement. While many fine watch owners will use only manual or automatic movement watches, quartz watches have a much higher functionality, and do not run the risk of over-winding, as manual watches can.

A quartz watch movement has various clock parts that include:

  • Battery – Powers the watch
  • Quartz Crystal – Causes the movement components to vibrate
  • Stepping Motor – Turns the electrical power into mechanical power to run the watch
  • Dial Train – Functions like the gear or dial train of a mechanical watch
  • Integrated Circuit – Carries the electrical current between the components of the watch

Famous Quartz Movement Watches

most famous watches

Image via Omega

Some of the most famous and luxurious watch makers have crafted the finest quartz watches available. Two of our favorites include:

Finding the Perfect Fit

While the automatic mechanical or the manual mechanical watches are usually considered the finest of the fine, the quartz watch is honestly more practical for most people.

They’re lower maintenance, aren’t at risk for over-winding – which can break a watch, and cost significantly less in most cases.

Fine quartz watches are useful, attractive, and affordable, and are no less beautiful than some of the more expensive watches that people like Cartier and Tag Heuer make.

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