Difference Between Quartz and Automatic Watch Movements

In the watchmaking industry there are two popular movements used regularly by brands to power their watches. You will come across quartz watches as well as automatic timepieces in your search for the perfect design. Both are valued in the watch world yet are very different in how they work. Let us explain the difference between the two so you can make an informed choice. 

Quartz vs Automatic Watch Movements

The main difference is that a battery powers quartz watches whereas an automatic movement requires the movement of the wearer’s wrist to keep the watch ticking.

Watch collectors tend to invest in automatic timepieces impressed with their expert craftsmanship, precise engineering and intricate skill whereas those looking for a less expensive, everyday watch will usually prefer a quartz movement.


How a Quartz Watch Works 

The battery of a quartz watch sends an electrical current through a piece of crystal quartz, which vibrates 32768 times per second. The constant vibrations create one pulse every second driving the motor and making the watch hands move. 

The release of the quartz movement by Seiko in 1969 threatened the production of automatic watches. The new technology was a huge success with brands designing their own quartz watches creating an era of battery-powered timepieces.

The Benefits of Quartz Watches

There are many advantages of quartz movements, which created the ‘Quartz Crisis’ during the seventies. Benefits that many people still enjoy today. 

  • Recognised for their precision, a quartz movement rarely gains or loses time and are highly praised for their accuracy.
  • Battery-powered watches are very reliable, as they do not require the owner to intervene to keep the hands moving. Therefore, favoured by those who prefer low maintenance watches.
  • Requiring less investment from the brand, quartz watches are generally less expensive as they do not need to account for the hours and skill required to make the movement.
  • Known for their durability, the wearer does not need to worry about repairing the watch very often. Simply change the battery every 1-2 years.



How an Automatic Watch Works

Also know as a self-winding watch, the natural movement of the wrist powers the automatic movement. The motion of the wrist causes for the rotor to spin transferring energy to the mainspring, which is then wound as a result. The continuous wear of the watch will keep the engine running storing a reserve even when you unfasten the watch.

The Benefits of Automatic Watches

Those who opt for an automatic watch are impressed with the skill, artistry and craftsmanship of the movement.

  • There is something truly special about owning a watch that has taken a lot of time, intricacy and skill to create.
  • Automatic watches are an investment that will last you a lifetime when taken care of. Therefore, worth the expense.
  • Admire the beautiful movement via the exposed case back watching the caliber at work.
  • Automatic movements are also very precise with brands priding themselves on delivering accuracy.
  • Be captivated by the sweeping second hand that moves multiple times a second creating the motion appreciated by many.

What Is the Best Watch Movement?

This all depends on personal preference and what you value in a watch. If you are interested in the complexity, skill and craftsmanship of a timepiece then an automatic watch is for you. However, if you are in need of a reliable watch to tell the time at a fraction of the price then a quartz movement is much more suited to your needs. Alternatively, you can enjoy wearing both especially if you enjoy collecting watches.