A Guide to Watch Movements

watch movements

People collect watches for their craftsmanship as well as their looks, and the craftsmanship required to make a watch by hand is in short supply today. Although most watches are made on a production line modern mechanical watches are no less valuable than vintage ones and can be far more accurate! Find out more about the different watch movements that are available in our guide.

A Guide to Watch Movements

Watches can be split into two main categories – wind-up (hand winding or automatic self-winding) and electronic (quartz).

Hand Wind

There is something wonderful about interacting with a mechanical watch, even though they can often lose or gain up to 10 seconds per day. A hand-winding watch stores energy in a coiled “mainspring” but needs winding every day or two

watch movements
A hand-winding watch movement

Automatic

Automatic watches are mechanical watches that have a balance wheel escapement attached to an offset weight (or rotor) that winds the watch as the wearer’s arm moves. Automatic watches can be stored on a watch winder that rotates it when it’s not being worn.

watch movements
An automatic watch movement has an oscillating rotor

Electronic Watch Movements

Electronic quartz watches have no moving parts inside the movement. They are powered by electricity from a battery which makes a piece of quartz vibrate to regulate the time. Most electronic movements use the piezoelectric effect, which enables them to keep extremely good time, typically only gaining or losing a few seconds per month.

watch movements
Quartz watch movements are powered by a battery

Other Watch Movements

Kinetic

Seiko have developed an innovative movement that combines features of both automatic and quartz watches. An offset weight rotates with the wearer’s wrist motion, which stories energy in a capacitor rather than a replaceable battery. You get the benefit of not having to change battery every year but the accuracy of a quartz watch. A power reserve indicator shows how much energy is stored, and they can generally last for months once fully charged.

Shop for a Seiko Kinetic watch

Solar Powered

Solar powered watches, such as Citizen’s Eco-Drive series are powered by light. They convert natural or artificial light into energy that gives the accuracy of quartz but without the need for battery changes. Power can be stored for several years in the top-end solar watch movements.

Shop for a Citizen Eco-Drive watch

Author: Mike Richmond

Usually found skulking around eBay or the International Watch League forum, Mike writes for a living and spends what little money he makes building up his collection of timepieces.

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