Watch Movements Types, What Are the Differences?

Watch Movements Types

A watch movement which is also known as a “caliber,” is the watch’s powerhouse that allows the watch and its functions to work. The hands are moved by this internal device, which drives any problems, including a chronograph, annual calendar, or dual time zone. Both timekeeping functions are driven by movement, which is essential for accurate timekeeping. It is needed for the operation of a watch.

Watchmakers use many patented technologies to produce a variety of movements, but they all fall into one of two categories: quartz or mechanical, or automatic.

1. Quartz

Quartz watch movementThe quartz movement was first developed by Seiko, a Japanese watchmaker, in 1969. The introduction of this new technology posed a challenge to traditional watchmakers who relied on mechanical movements to power their timepieces. As a result, most existing watch companies began producing their quartz timepieces, ushering in a new age of battery-operated wristwatches.

How does it work?

A quartz watch is operated by a battery that transmits an electrical signal via a crystal quartz object. The quartz vibrates 32768 times per second, producing a frequency-specific signal. The circuit detects the vibrations and converts them into a single pulse every second. This pulse is responsible for the watch hands’ consistent movement.


Time Accuracy: A quartz mechanism hardly deviates from the precise time, ensuring superior precision.

Ease of Use: Quartz watches are battery-operated and do not need to be wound up to keep ticking. Quartz watches need less maintenance due to the low number of moving parts and the availability of a battery.

Less Expensive: Mechanical and automatic watches take more hours and experience in the watchmaking process. As a result, quartz watches are less expensive.

Durable: A quartz timepiece is more robust than a mechanical watch because it has fewer moving parts that will need to be repaired.

Preferred: Watches with mechanical movements are favored by luxury watch collectors, while quartz watches are preferred for everyday use due to their superior accuracy and reliability.

Read also: Best Chronograph Watches

2. Mechanical

Mechanical watch movementA mechanical movement is driven by the mainspring, a flat coiled spring that provides power to the watch. Mechanical movements include winding every day or every few days, depending on the spring and power reserve.

How does it work?

An escapement, also known as a balance wheel, is driven by the wound mainspring as it uncoils. This advances the gear train to drive the second, minute, and hour hands by oscillating several times per second (most modern watches have four or more oscillations or beats-per-second). Since the oscillation is a strictly mechanical component that can be influenced minutely by gravity, precision can vary by 30 seconds per day. Still, most high-quality mechanical movements are accurate to within 15 seconds per day.


Longevity: With proper care, a well-made mechanical watch will last a lifetime.

Batteries: You won’t have to be concerned with battery replacements, which are still a hassle. Manually rewinding a simple mechanic wristwatch is regarded by many as a highly desirable ritual.

Aesthetics: A transparent sapphire casing on the back of several mechanical timepieces allows a clear view of the fascinating rotations and oscillations of the minute working components.

Read also: Men Gold Watches Under $100

3. Automatic

automatic watch movementThis is analogous to a mechanical movement in that the power is stored in a mainspring and wound by the wearer’s movement. A weighted rotor in the back of the movement accomplishes this by spinning while the consumer moves their wrist and keeping the movement wound. The movements are referred to as “self-winding mechanical movements” because of this.

With the launch of the Oyster Perpetual in 1920, Rolex made the modern rotor winding system popular in watches. This was celebrated as a major achievement because it virtually eliminates the need for winding.

How does it work?

The escapement controls the flow as the mainspring unwinds. The movement can be started by shaking the watch to rotate the rotor and wind the mainspring or manually winding the movement on some versions. Some people will need to manually raise the charge in their watch by winding it to ensure it does not stop because the amount of power stored in the watch is governed by the amount of movement of the wearer.


An automatic watch eliminates the need to wind your watch on a regular basis.

The watch continues to work with daily use.

Automatic watches, on the other hand, are typically thicker due to the additional rotors, whereas mechanical watches are typically more fragile and slimmer in form. The weight of a high-quality mechanical watch – it feels substantial in your palm – is an indication of its quality.

Read also: Best Watches for Teenage Girls

Mechanical Movements: What Are the Differences?

There are two types of mechanical movements in today’s luxury timepieces: manual and automatic, each with its own set of characteristics. While mechanical movements are preferred, the type of mechanical movement you choose is a matter of personal taste.

Manual Movement

Manual movements are the oldest form of the watch movement and are considered the most conventional. The beautiful view of the watch movement, which can typically be seen through the case back, is a common feature of manual-wind watches. Since they must be manually wound to generate energy in the watch’s mainspring, these movements are also referred to as “hand-wound movements.

How does it work?

To wind the mainspring and store potential energy, the wearer must turn the crown several times. The mainspring will slowly unwind and release energy through a series of gears and springs that control the energy release. This movement energy is then used to power the watch complications and switch the watch hands.

Winding Intervals

Winding periods for manual-wind watches are determined by the movement’s power reserve capability, ranging from 24 hours to five days or more. Some watches, such as the Panerai Luminor 1950 GMT with an eight-day power reserve, will require regular winding. Others, such as the Panerai Luminor 1950 GMT with an eight-day power reserve, will only require winding every eight days. Many people who wear manual-wind watches are actually in the habit of winding their watches before putting them on.


Automatic movement is the second form of mechanical movement. Automatic motions, also known as “self-winding,” channel energy from the normal motion of the wearer’s wrist. Automatic movements are common because the wearer does not have to worry about winding the watch on a regular basis to keep it running. The watch will keep its strength without needing to be wound as long as it is worn daily.

How does It work?

An automatic movement operates in a similar way to a manual movement, but with the addition of a metal, a weight called a rotor. The rotor is attached to the movement and is free to rotate. The rotor spins with each wrist movement, transferring energy and automatically winding the mainspring.

The Wind Intervals

Automatic watches also need to be wound, but they do so much less often than manual watches. If the watch is worn every day, it will keep time without winding; however, if the watch hasn’t been worn in a long time, it will need a fast wind to regain initial strength. A watch winder is a better alternative to manually winding automatic watches because it keeps the watch completely wound while it is not being worn.

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