Which Watch Movement?

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Watch Movements

A watch’s movement is its main timekeeping mechanism. The movement of a watch refers to the mechanics that power the ticking of the timepiece, and there are two main choices when it comes to analog watches - quartz or automatic.

Quartz movements are powered by a battery and do not stop working once removed from your wrist. Automatic mechanical movements mark the passage of time by a series of gear mechanisms. Most automatic movements are wound by the normal, everyday movement of your wrist, which charges the watch’s winding reserve.

What you choose really comes down to what you're looking for in a watch. There are many ways to look at what's attractive about both types of watches, but one way to look at it is the quartz watch as more practical and the automatic watch as more emotional.

Quartz watches work with a series of electronic components, all fitting together in a tiny space. Rather than a wound spring, a quartz watch relies on a battery, that needs to be replaced every 2 to 3 years, for its energy. The battery sends electrical energy to a rotor to produce an electrical current. The current passes through a magnetic coil to a tiny quartz crystal, which vibrates at a very high frequency (32,768 times a second), providing highly accurate timekeeping. These impulses are passed through a stepping motor that turns the electrical energy into the mechanical energy needed to turn the gear train. The gear train turns the motion work, which actually moves the hands on the watch dial.
Watches with quartz movements are more accurate, losing about a minute of accuracy over a year, and they can have either analog or digital displays, or both.

Automatic (also called "Mechanical")
Automatic/Mechanical watches mark the passage of time by a series of gear mechanisms, that need to be wound. A manual mechanical watch needs to be wound by hand on a consistent basis, where as an automatic mechanical (also referred to as a self-winding watch) utilizes kinetic energy and the movement of your wrist to wind the mainspring.
Mechanical watches are made up of about 130 parts that work together to tell time. Movement is based on a mainspring which when wound slowly unwinds the spring in an even motion to provide accurate timekeeping. The gear train then transmits the power to the escapement, which distributes the impulses, turning the balance wheel. The balance wheel is the time regulating organ of a mechanical watch, which vibrates on a spiral hairspring. Lengthening or shortening the balance spring makes the balance wheel go faster or slower to advance or retard the watch. The travel of the balance wheel from one extreme to the other and back again is called oscillation. Lastly, automatic movements come in different types, including movements that are Swiss-made, Japanese-made, and more.

Mechanical Watch Maintenance
Although mechanical watches do not have batteries, some easy-to-follow maintenance is necessary for continued and long-lasting good use.
If you have a hand-winding mechanical watch, it is best to wind it at the same time every day. This is extremely beneficial for the mechanism. You may want to make it a routine, winding it every morning when you wake up. If your watch has a day/date function, avoid setting the day and/or date at night. The day-date mechanism is activated during the nighttime hours and could be disrupted if set at this time.
Self-winding automatic watches depend on the movement of the arm to operate and do require some winding, even if you wear your watch on a daily basis. If you wear your automatic watch every day, it is best to wind it once every two weeks to keep the wheels in motion and oil fluid. Simply wind the crown (the same knob used to adjust the time and date) until you meet slight resistance. If you do not wear an automatic watch consistently (for about 8 to 12 hours a day), you can keep the watch powered with a watch winder (a great gift for collectors).

Some quartz watches are solar-powered, storing light that enters through the dial face, which eliminates visits to the jeweler to change the battery.

Swiss Movements
It might be stereotypical, but it's true. Many of the world's finest and most accurate timing movements, be they quartz or automatic, are created in Switzerland. Swiss-manufactured movements are found in a wide range of watches sold worldwide, but a timepiece can only be awarded the coveted Swiss-made label if the movement is made and then subsequently encased in Switzerland.

We hope you enjoyed your time here today.
The RedSplat Team

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