A Simplified Breakdown of the Different Watch Movements

There are many different types of watches out there. There is the mechanical watch that
makes use of a set of different springs and gears to create its movement. Then, there is
the Quartz watch that is powered by a battery to make it work.

There are three different watch movements that are implemented in different timepieces
today. In this article, I will provide a simplified breakdown of each watch movement so
that you will be aware.


The mechanical watch movement relies heavily on its mainspring which should be
winded down every day to ensure continuous operation.

You use the watch’s crown to wind the mainspring which will then transmit some energy
to the gear train which is located at the watch’s escapement. The components in the
escapement will then regulate the energy which will then be transferred to the watch’s
balance wheel.

The said wheel will then draw power and shift it towards the dial train, thus making the
infamous smooth sweeping motion of the hands.

Depending on the watch, you may have to manually wind the watch every day or so.
For the most part, modern mechanical watches have a power reserve that can power
the watch for at least two days. There are some watches that may even last more than
10 days, but such timepieces are quite expensive.


The mechanical watch mainly relies on manually winding the mainspring by rotating the
watch’s crown every so often. This is quite cumbersome, especially for the mainstream

To help supply some power to the watch without having to continuously wind the
mechanism, an oscillating rotor is installed. This rotor will be powered by your natural
hand movements and it sends that energy to the mainspring to continually operate the
watch’s inner components. Thus, the automatic watch movement is born.

The problem with automatic watches is that you have to constantly wear them on your
wrist to provide some much-needed energy to power the wristwatch.

Of course, there are some power reserves in play and that is relative depending on the
watchmaking company that created it.

Watch collectors would typically encase their automatic watches in a self-winding box to
keep the watch from losing its power.


The problem with both the aforementioned watch movements is that there is always
something that you should do on your part to make the watch move continuously.

Seiko, a popular Japanese watchmaking company, popularized the Quartz watch
movement back in 1969 by developing an oscillator that powers the watch by using the
energy that is produced by a battery.

Its key design feature is that instead of a sweeping watch hand motion, it produces that
famous “tick-tock” sound instead. In other words, instead of a sweeping motion, the
watch’s hand produces staggered movements.

Quartz watches are more ideal when it comes to timekeeping purposes. It is much more
accurate simply because it doesn’t rely on other moving parts other than the oscillator
and the battery that produces the energy required for it to move.

A simple quartz watch should last 2-3 years before you have to replace the battery. If
the watch has more features, then that number may decrease depending on the feature
and the frequency of its use.