quartz vs automatic watches
L: The Citizen Eco-Drive White ; R: Oris Aquis Date Blue - Bracelet - 39.5mm

Quartz vs Automatic Watches: Comparing the Key Movements

An insight into their accuracy and craftsmanship

Date Published
May 18, 2022
Author
Gnomon Watches
Category
Shop Highlights

When comparing movements that power a timepiece, the watch enthusiast community may consider a contrast between quartz vs. automatic watches. With both having their own distinctive features, the preference of the prospective timepiece owners on which types of movements to choose may also vary. For the newbie, what connotes these differences may not be all that clear. 

It’s really all in the movement! In this article, I will specifically point out the differences between quartz vs. automatic watches by inspecting each of them, one by one. This is all done by comparing what exactly they are, how each movement operates, and why you might pick one over the other. 

Furthermore, a recommendation on some of the most magnificent representatives of each movement will be included. Do continue reading.

Quartz Watches: Accurate and Reliable

So what is a quartz watch? Well, it is essentially a timepiece powered by a battery. In 1969, Seiko released the world’s first manufactured quartz watch. Prior to this, there was a clock built by the Bell Telephone Laboratories also charged by similar machinery in 1927. 

Seiko and other Japanese timepiece manufacturing companies enjoyed a massive rise in popularity. In fact, the year the 1970s – 1980s brought a “Quartz Crisis” to Swiss watchmakers due to the surge of demand for these watches capable of providing accuracy never seen before.

How Quartz Watches Work

These quartz calibers are utilized through an electrical current released from the cell exuding energy which is then passed on to the quartz crystal within the machinery. As a result, a vibration occurs, allowing the movement to swing back and forth, driving the motor. Ultimately, one can see it in the form of the moving hands of a quartz watch.

Quartz watches are widely regarded as synonymous with accuracy and convenience. When comparing quartz vs. automatic watches, the former counterpart is more precise and apart from changing the battery every few years, these timepieces would not need the act of wearing or winding them for them to move.

Another convenience is that it is much cheaper than the automatic ones, especially when you are on the lookout for luxurious timepieces.

Why a Quartz Watch 

There are a few reasons one might favor quartz vs an automatic watch. The very first is the price point. These timepieces are much more affordable due to the way they are mass-produced. Furthermore, quartz does not require labor intensity which may include the craftsmanship vital for an automatic timepiece.

Next, quartz timepieces are less fussy. A visit to the repair shop for maintenance is considered more convenient. Furthermore, a quartz timepiece owner will only need to change the battery every couple of years. This is different from the automatic which requires a service visit once in 3 – 5 years in comparison to a cell replacement.

Last but certainly not least, a quartz watch is more accurate and dependable. When comparing its accuracy, an automatic timepiece can deviate up to several minutes in a month while quartz provides a 20-second variation within the same period.

Read also: Solar vs Quartz Watches: The Pros and Cons You Need to Know

3 of the Very Best Quartz Watches

Now that one understands the very definition of quartz watches including how they work, it is time for a review of several of the most outstanding timepieces of the kind, providing not just exceptional accuracy but also voguish style. 

Grand Seiko Sport GMT SBGN023

This premium Japanese watch is supported by Grand Seiko’s 9F Caliber. With a varied range of just 10 seconds per year and protected by a seal, this particular timepiece is claimed to not need a battery replacement until half a century. All added with the GMT function special to the Sports collection, it makes for a very robust quartz watch indeed!

The Citizen Eco-Drive White Ref. AQ1010-54A

Next, The Citizen Eco Drive White Ref. AQ1010-54A  is powered by the magnificent Caliber A010 quartz movement with an accuracy range of a spectacular +- 5 seconds per year. This particular timepiece’s beauty certainly lies in the pristine white dial with subtle vertical lines and its stunningly clear glass.

The Citizen Eco-Drive White Ref. AQ1010-54A
The Citizen Eco-Drive White Ref. AQ1010-54A

Longines Conquest VHP

Last on the very best quartz timepieces is the Longines Conquest VHP for Very High Precision. This is indeed one of the most accurate timepieces, allowing a variation of just 5 seconds per year. A remarkable achievement indeed. 

Of course, this is done by a host of technological innovations including a system that can detect the exact position of the gear and correct it when not aligned with the time base of the quartz. Aside from that, this timepiece is capable of readjusting itself when coming in contact with a magnetic field presence or even a shock.

Automatic Timepieces: Showcasing Craftsmanship

For automatic timepieces, the movement happens due to energy sourced from the motion of the wearer. The first of them was established earlier back in the 18th century, remaining relatively less known until only the early 20th century when a rise in wristwatches can be observed.

The evolution of watches worn by connecting them neatly on pockets to wearing them on wrists has shifted the change in movement to utilize this development in location of wear. Such is the history of the automatic timekeeper and what it exactly means.

Read also: Top 4 Japanese Watch Brands That Make You Forget Swiss’ Crafts

How Automatic Watches Work

When talking about quartz vs. automatic timepieces, each time the latter moves, a rotor spins within the caliber to automatically wind the mainspring. Other names for these include mechanical and self-winding movements.

After that, the collected energy is released from the mainspring through a barrel which then moves to the gear trains, allowing the hands of an automatic timepiece to move. To keep them in power, one may regularly wear them or store them in a winder specifically for timepieces.

Why an Automatic Watch Movement?

When regarding accuracy, price, and reliability, sure, the former in quartz vs. automatic watches may win. Are there any reasons for the new and seasoned collectors to consider this type of movement? Well, there’s more subjectivity to the preference after all.

First, these aficionados may well respect the rich heritage present in most automatic timepiece makers. This craftsmanship refined through the times presents an undeniable allure. Furthermore, when one can view these wondrous machinery at work – behind most of the watches’ sapphire case back, it’s not understated to say that it’s akin to collecting an artwork.

More than that, there is something that quartz watches are not capable of making possible – sweeping second hands. On a mechanical timepiece, the machinery allows the second hand to tick multiple times within a second, unlike the quartz, portraying an illusion of a swift and sweeping movement.

3 of the Most Magnificent Self Winding Watches

An automatic timekeeper may be synonymous with craftsmanship and the finer things in life. All of this is enough when one looks for a timepiece only from a specific renowned brand. Consider this list of the very best timepieces powered by the wearers’ movement that is not only artistic but also very much reliable.

Oris Aquis Date Blue

The first representation of the latter movement of the quartz vs automatic watches list is the Oris Aquis Date Blue Ref. 01 733 7732. Coming from the renowned Oris brand with 100 years of history, the Aquis Date is a dive watch fitted with an automatic winding movement. 

Oris Aquis Date Blue - Bracelet - 39.5mm - Ref. 01 733 7732 4135-07 8 21 05PEB
Oris Aquis Date Blue – Bracelet – 39.5mm – Ref. 01 733 7732 4135-07 8 21 05PEB

This particular model highlights a stunningly deep ocean blue dial in character with its capability of going down 300 m underwater.

Hamilton Khaki Field Murph Auto

The Hamilton Khaki Field Murph Auto is also another well-made representation on this quartz vs. automatic watches list. This timepiece is powered by an H-10 Caliber capable of reserving up to a stunning 80-hour power. 

Coupled with the classic style and combination of the color black and faded yellow paint, the materiality of leather, and stainless steel, the final result is a timeless piece made for the stylish man.

Seiko Presage “Urushi”

Last but certainly not least of the best mechanical watches is the Seiko Presage “Urushi” Ref. SARX029. This Japanese-made timekeeper boasts a timeless appearance with its simple black and silver design paired with a golden accent.

Seiko Presage "Urushi" Ref. SARX029
Seiko Presage “Urushi” Ref. SARX029

This is in tandem with a robust, automatic Caliber 6R15 Seiko movement capable of up to 50 hours of power reserve. It is truly a compelling essential.

The battle of quartz vs. automatic watches all comes down to a matter of preference – in the budget, accuracy, and perhaps a heritage of the brand. The difference is also as easy as understanding that one is powered by a battery while the other is the movement of the wearer. 

To keep the movements’ durability, consider storing them properly when not in use in accordance with their type of machinery. Last, stay tuned to our Gnomon blog for more wisdom and tips regarding watches and the world of horology. 

Read also: Automatic Watch Accuracy: How Precise the Movement is?

Gnomon Watches first opened her doors for business online in early 2002, founded by bona fide horology suitors who share a profound passion for watchmaking and fine craftsmanship.

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