When people are choosing a new watch to buy, there’s one big question they’ll be faced with- quartz or mechanical? Of course, most people are simply interested in what the watch looks like, and don’t stop to think about this important question. They should, though- anyone who knows anything about watches will tell you that there’s a world of difference between these two options, and it’s therefore something you need to seriously consider before you choose your next watch. In this article, we’ll take you through the main differences between quartz and mechanical watches, and help you figure out which is the best choice for you.
At the heart of every watch is what’s known as a “movement”- the intricate parts that allow it to work properly, and keep the time. Unless you take the watch apart, you’ll never see the movement, but without it, the watch simply wouldn’t work. There are two main types of movement- quartz and mechanical- and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. That’s why it’s so important that you make the right choice for your needs- the movement governs how the watch works, and if you neglect it, you’ll be left with just a very expensive bracelet.
It used to be that the majority of mechanical watches required you to manually wind them regularly, in order to keep the movement running. Nowadays, though, most are automatic, or “self-winding”. As you wear the watch, the natural movements that you make with your arm throughout the day help the movement to power itself, so that you don’t need to go through the hassle of winding them every few hours. Another key benefit of mechanical watches is that, so long as they are properly maintained, they will last a lifetime- they make for the perfect personal inheritance to hand down to your children. However, it’s important to note that you need to keep wearing the watch in order for it to self-wind. If you take the watch off for around twelve hours, then the movement will start to lose power, and you’ll need to wind it and set the time manually the next time you put the watch on.
Quartz watches, on the other hand, keep running constantly, because they are powered by a battery. You can take them off and leave them lying around for months at a time, and when you pick them up again, they’ll still tell you the right time.
The battery is used to provide an electrical current to a tiny piece of quartz crystal. The crystal vibrates at exactly 32768 times per second, and a circuit then reads these vibrations, and causes a vibration each second that results in a consistent movement. This technology is surprisingly new- the first quartz watch was invented in 1969 in Japan, but nowadays, most watchmakers offer quartz watches for sale. Since you don’t need to keep wearing the watch in order for it to keep the time, it’s recommended that if you plan on owning two or more watches that you’ll regularly alternate, you stick should with quartz.
Another key difference between quartz and mechanical watches is in how they are maintained. With a quartz watch, you can expect to need the battery changed every year or so, in order to keep it running. Mechanical watches need maintenance every two or three years, meaning they are easier to keep, but this maintenance is a little more in-depth than simply changing a battery, so you can expect to pay more. However, while quartz watches are more durable in the short term, they won’t last forever, since their parts tend to wear out over time. Mechanical watches are more prone to internal damage, but so long as this is repaired, they will keep on working for decades.