What is a movement? Do different versions exist? A movement defines the internal mechanism of a watch which powers the timekeeping functions. In other words, a movement is the engine of a watch. Different types of movements include quartz, mechanical and automatic, and the different movements are associated with pros and cons. In order for you to choose one movement above the other, we discuss pros and cons below.
A quartz movement is a very reliable movement and more inexpensive than a mechanical movement. A quartz movement is powered by a battery and, thus, you need to replace the battery once in a while – If your watch is equipped with a quartz movement. Quartz movements are known as quartz movements as these movements are powered using a combination of battery and quartz crystal. The battery sends electric current through the quartz crystal to keep it oscillating at over 32.000 vibrations per second. The vibrating quartz crystal powers a stepper motor that keeps the hands moving at a constant rate – thus keeping time accurately. In general, the battery will need to be replaced approximately every 2 to 3 years. Some quartz watches (e.g. T-Touch Solar from Tissot) are powered by solar energy – these watches are still known as quartz watches; however, the batteries are constantly charged by solar energy.
On a positive note, a quartz movement is a more price-friendly option than a mechanical movement and does not require a watch winder to run. On average, a quartz movement will not lose more than 5-10 seconds per month. A quartz watch covers most needs and the only downside is that you, once in a while, need to have the battery changed at your local watch store.
In most cases, newer watches are not equipped with mechanical movements as these are usually found in older models - such as pocket watches. A mechanical movement is powered by winding a spring (known as the mainspring) which delivers a steady supply of energy to the gear train - thereby powering the timekeeping functions. When a mechanical movement is fully wound, the watch will keep running for 36 to 48 hours.
If you are in possession of a mechanical watch, you will need to rewind and adjust time when energy runs out. To ensure accuracy, you should set time regularly even though the watch is running perfectly. A good rule of thumb is to rewind a mechanical watch every night before you go to bed – and remember to make it part of your daily routine. Contrary to a quartz movement, a mechanical movement will last for generations if serviced regularly by a watchmaker.
An automatic movement is a mechanical movement with an automatic winding mechanism. An automatic watch harnesses the energy produced by motion to wind the spring. More precisely, the watch is equipped with a rotor and gears that wind the mainspring when the rotor is in motion – e.g. when the watch is worn on the wrist. An automatic watch has the same unique features as a mechanical watch: detailed construction and good durability.
In addition, an automatic watch has another advantage as the wearer does not need to manually wind the timepiece on a daily basis – as is the case with mechanical watches. Thus, a watch with an automatic movement will function accurately if worn daily. As some movements will lose a few minutes per month, you should set time once in a while. Quite a few automatic watches have transparent case backs, allowing you to view the movement in motion.
These movements contain features from quartz movements as well as automatic movements – nothing general can be said about these movements as they vary in design.