Watches come in a variety of different styles and movements, and understanding the differences between them can help you choose the right one for you. In this article, we’ll take a look at three types of watch movements: Quartz, Mechanical, and Spring DriveSpring Drive A Spring Drive movement, pioneered by Grand Seiko, is a type of mechanical watch movement that combines the traditional mechanics of a mechanical watch with the precision of a quartz watch. It uses a mainspring as the source of energy, just like a mechanical watch, but instead of using a traditional escapement, it uses a quartz crystal to regulate the release of energy. The Spring Drive movement is considered to be highly accurate, and is known for its smooth, gliding seconds hand. [Learn More].
Quartz watches are powered by a battery and are known for their accuracy and low maintenance. The movement is powered by a small quartz crystalQuartz Crystal A quartz crystal is a piece of quartz that has been cut and shaped to vibrate at a specific frequency when an electric current is applied to it. This frequency is known as the resonant frequency, and is determined by the crystal's size and shape. The quartz crystal oscillates at this precise frequency and generates a very stable electrical signal, which is used to keep time in quartz watches. The quartz crystal is placed in a circuit, called the oscillator circuit, that uses the electrical signal to drive the watch's motor, which moves the watch's hands. [Learn More] that vibrates at a very precise frequency, which is then used to control the hands on the watch face. Quartz crystals in watches are lab grown.
Lab-grown quartz crystals are produced using a process called hydrothermal synthesis. This process involves the use of high temperature and pressure to dissolve and then recrystallize silica in a growth solution. A seed crystal is placed in a sealed container along with the growth solution and subjected to heat and pressure. As the solution cools, the dissolved silica recrystallizes on the seed crystal, growing into a single crystal quartz. This process can be repeated to produce larger, high-quality quartz crystals.
Quartz watches are usually less expensive than mechanical watches and are a popular choice for those who want a reliable, low-maintenance timepiece. Quartz watches exist in a wide range of price segments, from the likes of Seiko to Grand Seiko, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Patek Philippe, F.P. Journe and many more.
Mechanical watches are powered by a series of gears and springs that work together to move the hands on the watch face. Make sure to take a look at this video we posted a while ago detailing how it all works together. The movement is wound either manually or automatically. Automatically in this case means by the movement of your wrist and not by a battery.
Making a brand new mechanical watch movement starts with the design and prototyping of the movement, where a blueprint is created and a prototype is made. Then, the individual components of the movement, such as gears, springs, and plates, are then made using specialized machinery and tools, such as lathes and milling machines. These components are then assembled into sub-assemblies and the complete movement. During this assembly stage, the craftsmen carefully check the fit and finish of all the components and make any necessary adjustments. The movement is then decorated with details such as engraving, bluing, and polishing to add aesthetic appeal. After decoration, the movement is tested for accuracy and regulated if needed. This step is crucial for ensuring that the movement is capable of keeping accurate time. Finally, the movement is installed into the watch case, and the complete watch is tested for accuracy and performance.
Mechanical watch movements require regular maintenance to keep them in good working order and also tend to be more fragile than their Quartz siblings.
Spring Drive Watches:
Spring drive watches are a hybrid of quartz and mechanical watches, offering the accuracy of a quartz watch with the craftsmanship of a mechanical watch. The movement is powered by a spring – not a battery – similar to a mechanical watch, but the timekeeping is regulated by a quartz crystal, ensuring high accuracy.
It utilizes a mainspringMainspring The mainspring is a spiral-shaped metal spring that stores energy in a mechanical watch movement. It is located inside the barrel. The mainspring is wound, either manually or automatically. The mainspring unwinds over time, and the watch will stop running when the mainspring is fully unwound. [Learn More] to power the movement, just like a traditional mechanical watch, but instead of relying on a ticking escapementEscapement The escapement is a mechanism in a mechanical watch movement that regulates the release of energy from the mainspring and keeps the watch ticking at a steady rate. The escapement is made up of two main components: the escape wheel and the pallet fork. The escapement is responsible for the ticking sound of the watch, and it ensures that the watch runs at a consistent rate. As the escape wheel rotates forward, it locks and unlocks with the pallet fork, allowing a small amount of energy from the mainspring to be released. This causes the balance wheel to oscillate and the watch to 'tick'. [Learn More], it uses a quartz crystal to regulate the flow of energy from the mainspring to the hands. This results in a movement that is both precise and smooth, with no ticking or jumping seconds hand. The Grand Seiko Spring Drive movement is regarded by some as one of the most innovative developments in the world of watchmaking and has set new standards for accuracy and performance in high-end timepieces.
Each type has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, and the choice between them ultimately comes down to personal preference and the specific requirements of the individual. The choice is ultimately yours!