Everything You Need to Know About How Watches Work

Everything You Need to Know About How Watches Work

If you’re buying a watch it will help if you understand watch movement and how your watch will work. The movement or calibre is what makes a watch tick, it is the heart of the watch. The movement refers to the mechanism that drives the hands on a watch face, but how does your watch actually work?

24 February 2020 H.Samuel - Editor

Quartz Movement: An Overview

Introduced in 1969, the quartz watch movement is powered by a battery that sends an electrical signal through a piece of crystal quartz. Then a stepping motor carries current to the movement’s dial train, causing the watch’s hour, minute, and second hands to move around the face, this type of movement allows accuracy of time.

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Mechanical Movement: An Overview

This movement uses energy from the wound mainspring to power the watch, rather than a battery, this is required to be wound every few days. Diving underneath the dial of a mechanical watch you will find an intricate series of components that work harmoniously to deliver timekeeping performance.

A coiled mainspring is wound by hand every day to store energy. As it unwinds, a set of gears drive the hands to show the time, oscillating at a constant speed thanks to a balance wheel. The smooth-sweeping second hand, as opposed to the more common ticking motion, gives away its mechanical status.

This traditional method of watchmaking has been used by horologists for hundreds of years and was first invented during the 16th century. Since then, it has been tinkered with and developed to keep up with innovative advances.

What is Eco-Drive?

Designed by Citizen in the 1970’s, this watch movement is powered by any type of light, this means that it never needs a battery. The natural and artificial light shines through a translucent dial, onto a solar cell, this then converts light into energy. With solar powered watches, all the energy collected is then stored in a power-cell, which continuously recharges the watch. Following this huge innovative leap, all Citizen watches are now equipped with Eco-Drive technology.

What is Automatic Movement?

This watch movement is powered by perpetual motion – movement of the wrist turns the rotor which winds the mainspring. An oscillating weight pivots freely around a spindle, and each movement helps to wind the mainspring, charging the power reserve. The regulator of the watch is a balance wheel with a hairspring that vibrates 6 – 8 times a second. Most mechanical watches these days are automatics. “Automatic” is just another term for “self-winding”.

What is a Smart Analog Watch Movement?

This watch is a fantastic fusion between the traditional analog look and smart functionality, this means it can connect to your mobile phone. The watch will be able to track steps, whilst the app within your phone to calculate your calories burn and activity time. These watches will not need charging.

Some other movements that you may come across when it comes to watches

Solar Movement

  • Has built in solar cells, usually typically located above the watch face.
  • The solar cells then convert the solar energy into electricity, which then powers the watch.

Kinetic Movement

  • Use the movement of the wearers body to create power for the watch.
  • No batteries are needed.
  • The wearer shouldn’t have to wind the watch to keep it going.