A Guide to the Different Timepiece Movements

What is a Watch Movement ?

A Movement is the term given the the mechanism that puts the hands on a timepiece into motion. It ensures the minute hand moves at one speed, the second hand at another and so on. It has long been a point of discussion among experts in the field of timepieces; exactly which is the most accurate and what are the benefits and drawbacks of the different options?

This blog post will outline the different movements on the market and allow you to make a more informed decision when looking at a new timepiece.

What factors should you consider when assessing different movements ?

Different movements work in different ways. Some use a battery, others are wound up and some are automatic and use the motion of the wearer as a source of power. In addition, whilst all very accurate, they can and do differ in accuracy which of course is another important factor.

Mechanistic and Autonomous Timepiece Movements

To kick start this then, lets look at the mechanical and automatic movements. These type of movements are historically the first used. This group of movements include moving parts that are conducted with the help of a spring. The main spring gradually de-ravels and generates precise amounts of tension and pressure on the relevant elements of the watch. This is why historically pocket watches were wound up on a daily basis. Some argue that the winding of the watch adds to the pleasure and enjoyability of using a mechanistic timepiece.

These days there are solutions to avoid winding up the watch manually. Automatic watches use a weighted rotating element that winds up the spring as the wearer moves. This particular movement removes the need for a battery which is very useful.
However, this type of movement does need to be serviced once every 5 years to ensure its reliability and accuracy is maintained. Some would argue that this is no different from having to replace the battery and can often be more costly. This leads us nicely on to other movements such as quartz and electronic.

Electronic and Quartz movements

A very common choice for a wealth of more modern timepieces the quartz movement works in a different way to a mechanical timepiece. Powered by electricity, the quartz movement features no moving parts and are solely driven using power from a battery.
At the heart is an electronically stimulated oscillator which is kept in sync with a specialised quartz crystal. When the electricity moves through the crystal it causes a pulsation that maintains a very precise frequency of movement. This power is then precisely divided using a sophisticated circuit board between the different hands to allow for the varying speeds and precision of time.

One drawback to a quartz movement is the need to replace the battery. However some quartz watches use such little power, changing the battery does not need to be done very often.

Which should you get?

To be honest it is completely down to personal preference but one consideration you need to make is the more traditional mechanical and automatic movements will need constant winding or wearing to keep the timepiece keeping time if you don't plan on wearing them everyday.