A well-crafted watch is one of the most important pieces of attire that a person can own. The right one will be attractive, functional, and can give a visual statement on your values and lifestyle unlike anything else.
But to give the right statement, you need to know the right kind of watch you should own. A lot of that will come from the type of movement that powers your watch.
Watch Movement Types
Watches can be run by a variety of types of movements, including mechanical, automatic, and quartz. To better understand the type of watch you should purchase, learn more about the mechanics, and how they work in each type.
Mechanical Movement Watches
Mechanical movement watches are wrist or pocket watches that use a mechanism to power them. Each mechanism has a series of components that work together to run the mechanism, and therefore, power the watch.
Mechanical movement was the original type of watch movement.
Components of a Mechanical Watch
The mainspring of a watch is spiral spring of metal ribbon, typically made of steel. A watch using a mainspring can be referred to as a wind-up watch, or spring-powered watch.
When the spring is wound tighter, the spring stores the energy needed to slowly release into the mechanism of the watch that ultimately moves the hands about the clock-face at the appropriate intervals that enable us to tell time by them.
The Gear Train
The gear train of a watch has two functions. It transmits the force of the mainspring to the balance wheel. The gear train also allows the user of the watch to wind the mainspring, and enables the hands of the watch to move in the appropriate time.
The Balance Wheel
The balance wheel oscillates back and forth, and is the part of the mechanism of the watch that is the actual time keeper.
The Escapement Mechanism
This part of the watch mechanism also has dual functions. The escapement mechanism keeps the balance wheel vibrating by pushing it with each swing of the balance wheel. It also allows the gears of the watch to escape, or more technically, advance, in a defined amount. This is the part of the watch that creates the ticking sound.
This is the watch face, with the moving hands, which indicates the time in a readable format for humans.
Each of these components works together to create the mechanism that runs the watch. This type of mechanism has to be wound periodically to keep the watch going.
Most mechanical movements watches sold today are automatically wound, but you can still get some manual wind watches if you prefer that style.
A quartz watch is powered by a battery. These watches first became available to the public in 1969, a decade after Seiko commissioned this type of watch. The quartz watch has changed the face of watches in the past 50 years, making watches easier than ever for consumers to use and maintain.
How Quartz Watches Work
Quartz watches are typically less popular with fine watch collectors. True watch collectors prefer mechanical watches. However, quartz watches are less expensive, easier to maintain, easier to use. Quartz watches are also more durable than mechanical watches because they have fewer parts.
- A quartz watch battery sends an electrical signal through the piece of quartz in the watch.
- The electrical signals cause the quartz to vibrate 32768 times per second. This vibration creates the precise signal frequency.
- The circuit measures the vibrations and converts them into a singular pulse every second.
- This pulse is what moves the watch hands and keeps time in the watch.
The third standard watch movement type is the automatic movement. An automatic watch is often referred to as the self-winding watch.
This type of watch can also be referred to the Kinetic energy or Kinetic watch. The automatic watch harnesses the energy from the wearer’s hand and wrist movements. This energy is then transferred to the mechanism, and winds the watch automatically for you.
Automatic watches tend to be heavier and thicker than standard mechanical movement watches because of the additional rotors needed for automatically winding the watch for you.
As long as you wear your automatic watch regularly, the watch will continue to function properly and keep time for you.
Choosing the Right Watch
While automatic and quartz watches are easier to use, true watch collectors will almost always go with a well-made, expensive mechanical movement watch. These watches have more class, style, and a long history of elegance attached to them.
If you’re interested in the right long-term investment in your watch, you should definitely review and examine a number of fine mechanical movement watches before you buy. Brands like Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Omega, and Tag Heuer are great places to start.