Do You Really Know How A Watch Works?

For the uninitiated, there are a few basic things to know about a watch before spending your hard-earned cash on a quality timepiece, and one of those important things is the movement. Whilst we could go on forever about oscillations and regulators and such, we'll keep it pretty simple for today, so you know a little before dipping your toes into the enormous world of watches.

There are 2 basic types of watch movements that you really need to understand: Mechanical and Quartz. The basic difference is that one requires a battery to power the watch, whilst the other does not, however it's not quite that simple. Let's take you through the distinct difference of both.



A mechanical watch is one that is powered by a tightly wound spring (the mainspring), which lets out energy as it unwinds. This energy is regulated by a device called the 'escapement', which then transmits power through a series of gears to the hands of the watch, thus showing the time. This is the way watches have been made for hundreds of years. Having a spring that releases tension over time means that it needs to be wound somehow, and there are 2 ways of doing this: manually winding the spring through the crown of the watch, or automatically, using a weighted rotor, which will wind the spring as long as the watch is moving. The easiest way to spot a mechanical watch is to view the seconds watch. The seconds hand of a mechanical watch (if it has one) will usually not 'tick' every second, but rather move smoothly around the face of the watch.



A quartz watch is one that requires a battery to power it. It uses a quartz crystal to regulate the time, and the seconds hand on a quartz watch has the characteristic 'ticking' 60 times a minute. Quartz watches have only really been around since the 1980s, when they nearly killed the mechanical watch industry. They're cheap to make, and incredibly accurate, so a lot of smaller brands went under during what we call 'The Quartz Crisis'.

This is just a very basic look at what makes a watch work. There's plenty more to discuss like complications (extra functions a watch has), especially with mechanical watches, but you'll just have to tune into the next article on watch functionality. 

Author: Siddharth Padmanabhan / Date: 23-01-2018 12:48 AM

Category:  Horology

Tags:  #Watch Movements#Movements#Horology#Watches