What Does It Mean When a Watch Says Automatic vs. When It Says Quartz?

As fascinating as timepieces are, acquiring information about the different models out there can sometimes be mind-boggling. However, you shouldn’t find this a problem if you are aware of the basic differences between watches.

More than anything, finding the right piece becomes considerably easier when you know how to tell an automatic watch from a quartz watch. There are quite a lot of differences between automatic and quartz, as you will soon find out when you check out this guide or continue reading.

A Guide to Watch Movement

“Caliber” is the technical term for watch movement and refers to the watch’s engine, which is responsible for all its functions. Modern watches either have the automatic watch movement or the quartz watch movement. Both offer desirable advantages and some setbacks, so your choice depends solely on your personal preferences.

Automatic Watch Movement

Before the automatic watch, there was the mechanical watch. Known as the oldest watch construct, it is where today’s automatic watch movement is modeled after. Back in the early days of the mechanical watch, there was no such thing as batteries; instead, a timepiece’s functions were driven purely by mechanics.

The mainspring is the powerhouse of the mechanical watch. When wound manually, it triggers a chain of functions responsible for the watch’s operation. However, this type of watch requires periodic winding to function long-term. Otherwise, it would die and become useless. It is also advisable to visit a skilled watchmaker every now and then for its maintenance, as winding can cause considerable wear and tear.

The Modern Version of the Mechanical Watch Movement

The automatic watch movement is basically the mechanical movement with all its gaps filled. Hence, there is no need to manually wind the watch or suffer through the effects of manual winding. This version winds up automatically, making it less likely to get damaged from mechanical wear and tear.

The automatic watch draws energy for self-winding from the wearer’s movements. This is thanks to its ball bearings and weighted gear feature. Compared to its counterpart, it also scores the highest in terms of aesthetics. It is handcrafted by the most skilled watchmakers using exceptionally fine gears, making it hard not to stare at its beauty.

Quartz Watch Movement

Unlike the mechanical-based movement of the automatic watch, a quartz watch’s movement is electrical. It makes use of the vibrating mineral known as quartz to trigger said electrical movement. The quartz crystal became the mineral of choice for scientists because it swings at a constant frequency when infused with electricity. This also became the reason for the timepiece’s incredible accuracy.

A lot of quartz watches run on batteries, which can last up to three or five years, depending on the model. Besides the ease of battery replacements offered by these watches, they also don’t take much to maintain. Some come with features such as illumination, compasses, and stopwatches, although these might have significantly shorter battery lives.

Nevertheless, there are quartz watch options that don’t have replaceable batteries. Some brands also make use of solar energy or eco-drive technology, as the manufacturers love to call it. This feature allows the wearer to charge their watches using all kinds of light, even indoor lighting.

Generally, quartz watches are cheaper and require less maintenance due to their fewer moving parts. For this reason, most of the mass-produced timepieces you see today are quartz watches.

Automatic vs. Quartz: How Do They Differ?

Below are four points detailing the main differences between quartz and automatic watches. These should be sufficient enough to help you choose the right watch for you.

  • Automatic watches draw power from springs, while batteries are the main power source of quartz watches.
  • Automatic watches need their mainsprings replaced or repaired for wear and tear. On the other hand, quartz watches might only need their batteries replaced once every few years.
  • Automatic timepieces are on a league of their own aesthetically, which is why they are often far more expensive than quartz watches.
  • Quartz watches are more accurate than automatic pieces because their operation isn’t influenced by shifts in the environment.

The Right Watch for You

So which watch should you pick? If you are in the market for something affordable, low maintenance, and still of decent quality, look no further than the quartz watch. It is also important to note that quartz would be more the speed of an occasional watch wearer.

In comparison, automatic watches usually stop functioning after a few days of not being worn. As such, you will have to set the time repeatedly, which isn’t healthy for the watch. Nevertheless, timepieces using automatic movement also have their charm. Not only do they look beautiful, but they also make you feel like you are wearing a piece of history with you.