All About Watch Movements

Watches are interesting mechanical objects that offer a lot to the imagination … like movement. Have you ever considered the movement of a watch? Keep reading to learn about the parts of a watch movements and the differences between them!

Watch Movements

Just as humans need a functioning heart to move, watches need functioning parts to operate. The movement of the watch is its caliber or the ‘heart’ of the watch and is what causes it to tick.  There are many different watch movements, but the primary movements are quartz, manual and automatic. Automatic and manual watches are both mechanical, while quartz is battery-operated.

Quartz Movement

Quartz watches are the most popular type. They are electronic or battery-powered watches. They’re also known for their accuracy and are fairly easy to maintain. Quartz watch movement is easily recognized as it displays a tick-tock movement; the second-hand moves once per second. An electrical current is sent from the battery through the quartz crystal.

Quartz Watch Components

Every quartz watch will have the following components:

  • The battery is the most crucial part for the wearer because it’s the power source. Depending on the brand of the battery, it won’t need replacing for 1-5 years.
  • The Integrated Circuit carries the electrical charge between the different components.
  • The quartz crystal generates voltage due to vibration from the electricity of the battery.
  • The stepping motor pulses from the quartz vibrations are converted into mechanical power.
  • The dial/gear train regulates energy and enables the hands of the watch to move with help from the stepping motor.

Pros of a Quartz Watch:

The pros of a quartz watch include:

  • Most accurate.
  • Affordable
  • Low-maintenance.

The Cons of a Quartz Watch:

The cons of a quartz watch include:

  • Needs ongoing battery replacement.

Mechanical Movement

There are two types of mechanical movement watches: automatic and manual. Mechanical watch movement is distinctive over quartz movement in that the second-hand moves in a fluid, sweeping fashion to indicate the seconds passing. Watches with mechanical movement also work in a similar way as Quartz watches with one slight difference.

Automatic Movement

These watches are an upgrade to the manual, as they are self-winding. The movement of the wrist causes a rotor to swing 360 degrees. The energy gathered lets it know when it is fully wound. Usually, if the watch is worn regularly, winding it is not necessary.


The components of an automatic movement watch include:

  • Mainspring – The power source.
  • Crown – A small wheel on the side that winds the watch and enables it to turn.
  • Gear Train – A small series of internal gears that cause the hands of the watch to move.
  • Escapement – An internal braking system caused by energy transferred from the mainspring to the gear train.
  • Balance Wheel – An internal component that beats in a circular motion, five to ten times per second.
  • Dial Train – This enables the hands to move by transferring equal parts of energy from the balance wheel.
  • Jewels – These are synthetic rubies in the center of the gear to keep it in continuous motion and prevent wear and tear from heat and friction.
  • Rotor – A metal weight shaped like a half-circle. It swings freely as the wrist moves. As the rotor moves along with the wrist, it transfers power to the mainspring and twists it. This is where the energy is stored. When the mainspring is fully wound, a clutch attached to the rotor is engaged. This means the watch is fully wound and the clutch prevents the rotor from winding the mainspring any further.

Pros of an Automatic Movement Watch :

The pros of an automatic movement watch include:

  • Winds automatically with movement.
  • No battery required.
  • High quality

Cons of an Automatic Movement Watch:

  • The cons of an automatic movement watch include:
  • Time will stop if not worn for a few days; then will need to be rewound.
  • Expensive

Manual Movement

Manual watches need to be hand-wound to adjust the time. These types of watches are likely the most expensive. Through kinetic energy by a series of springs and gears, the watch hands move in a sweeping motion. The watch needs to be taken off the wrist to be wound, and this can be anywhere from 1-5 days.

The difference between manual movement and automatic movement is that one is wound by the wearer, the other wounds automatically. Their movement is similar.

Pros of a Manual Movement Watch:

The pros of a manual-wind watch include:

  • Lasts a long time
  • High quality
  • No batteries required
  • A good look

Cons of a Manual Movement Watch:

The cons of a manual-wind watch include:

  • Expensive
  • Not always accurate
  • Needs constant manual winding

Having knowledge of watch movement is great when shopping for a watch. The kind you choose will greatly depend on your budget and lifestyle. If you need help choosing the perfect watch, Mark’s Diamonds is here to assist you. Contact us today and have the watch of your dreams tomorrow. We also offer watch repairs, cleanings, and battery replacements! Book your appointment by giving us a call or using the form below!


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