The Pros and Cons of Quartz Movements

The Pros and Cons of Quartz Movements

September 28, 2018

You want to buy a watch but aren't sure which kind would suit you best. In the world of watches, it can be very confusing.

In this short post, we will delve into the world of quartz movements.

Let's first start by going over the definition of a movement. A watch movement, otherwise known as a "caliber", is the engine in the watch that makes it tick. This internal mechanism is what moves the hands and powers any other complications within the watch -- such as chronographs, annual calendars, or a dual time zone.

So, what are some pros and cons to a quartz movement?

PROS

1. Winding: Unlike mechanical watches, quartz watches are powered by a cell battery which sends electric signals to a quartz crystal. The crystal then sends the electric pulses to a motor which advances the watch hands with a highly precise frequency. The battery will last up to 4 years, after which it will need to be changed. Compared to a mechanical watch, the quartz watch requires minimal effort to maintain daily.

2. Precision: Since quartz watches do not rely on kinetic energy to tick, the amount and frequency of power exerted on its movement is evenly dispersed throughout its lifetime. This makes the quartz watch highly precise in comparison to its mechanical counters. They only lose less than a second of accuracy per day, whereas it's perfectly reasonable for a mechanical watch to lose up to 30 seconds daily. 

3. Maintenance: Buying a mechanical watch is like buying a car. Mechanical watches require servicing every 3-5 years, just so the springs and gears inside are operating smoothly. Regular service for a basic mechanical watch can cost anywhere upwards of $100. In the luxury or antique categories, you can look anywhere from $500 to $2000. A quartz watch, on the other hand, will only require a battery change every 3-4 years. Lithium cell batteries cost less than $1. You will be able to change it yourself with the proper tools, which you can find online for roughly $20. If properly maintained, a quartz watch can last a lifetime.

4. Appearance and Reliability: Considering how many moving parts are required to make a mechanical watch work, it's inevitable that they will appear a little bulky and heavy. Quartz watches can be made ultra-thin. You may also have heard the horror stories of dropped mechanical watches being sent to their death beds for never running correctly again. This is by far the most significant advantage that a quartz watch holds. Without the risk of dislocating a series of moving parts when dropped, the quartz watch will accurately tell time regardless of how many time it falls to the floor.

CONS

1. Collectibility: Quartz watches are often mass-produced, which means their value does not hold over time. Mechanical watches are treasured for their intricacy in design, not their accuracy or durability. Just as how someone would choose a Lamborghini over a Mustang, many collectors choose to don a mechanical watch over their wrists as a symbol of their passion for horology. Thus, quartz and mechanical watches serve two distinctly different functions. One is a fashion statement, and another is a legacy.

2. Passion: As stated above, mechanical watches are much more intricately designed compared to their quartz counterparts. Many watch enthusiasts love the craft of servicing and restoring legendary timepieces and see it as a therapeutic hobby. 

SUMMARY

Quartz and mechanical watch both serve distinct functions. The most notable pros a quartz watch holds are its reliability, precision, low cost, and its self-powering abilities. A mechanical watch is the Rolls Royce of the watch world. It's treasured for its legacy, its intricacy in design, and its beauty in craftsmanship. Although both are in the wristwatch category, quartz and mechanical watches are like apples and oranges. It's up to the owner to determine which one he likes best.



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