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Quartz Vs. Automatic Watches: Which Is Better?

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We are all aware of the terms ‘Quartz Watch’ and ‘Automatic Watch’, but not a lot of folks really understand the meaning of these terms.  Here we’ll attempt to break down the difference between quartz and automatic watches for you.

It should be noted that these are the two distinct types of watch movements (aside from manual movement).  Comprehending the basic functionality of a watch is the key to spot the difference between mechanical and quartz movements. A watch movement (also known as caliber) is the engine that operates a watch. In other words, this mechanism manages the movement of the hands in a watch, indicating time precision.

The next and the most important questions that come to mind are: What is the difference? Which of the two are better? Between two watches, which one lasts longer and most important should I buy a Quartz or Automatic?

Well, we have an answer for you! There are key differences between quarts and automatic watches, but the response to which one is better really depends on the preference of the buyer. We will dive deeper into the basic knowledge of each type in order to help you justify the right choice.



In Tokyo, Japan, during the end of 1960s, Seiko introduced the first ever quartz wrist watch named Astron. Its movement was operated by a battery and highlighted the quartz oscillator with a frequency of 8192 HZ. With the advent of technology, Seiko commenced the prolific manufacturing of these watches, ultimately leading to its reasonable prices.

The Workings

As the name suggests, a quartz watch consists of a small piece of quartz (silicon dioxide) crystal amalgamated intricately into the mechanics of the watch. Quartz watches are battery operated and involves less use of electricity, meaning the battery can last for many years sans the need of restoring it. In order to create power in the quartz movements, a battery conducts an electrical current through the quartz crystal. When the electricity transmits through the crystal, it creates vibrations and oscillates at an almost perfectly constant frequency of 32,768 times each second. Because of these perfect vibrations, the watch hands tell time very accurately making quartz a perfect material.

From the above information, it can be inferred that quartz watches are totally reliable in terms of time measurement and have an added advantage of low maintenance as it requires to change the battery once in a few years.



An automatic watch, also called self-winding watch, was invented by Abraham-Louis Perrelet whose design was a major accomplishment in the history of horology. According to the Geneva Society of Arts in 1977, it was necessary for the buyer to walk for about eight minutes in order to wind the watch for a day fully. Today, the same procedure of winding the watch through natural movements is the key behind the working of the automatic watches, with many touch-ups and improvements of course!

The Workings

Mechanical watches are not battery operated. They are of two types, meaning it can either be self-winding automatic watches or manual wind watches. Automatic watches are highly popular because they utilize the energy through the motion of the wearer’s wrist. These watches are more complex and constitutes the components like rotor, balance wheel, gear-trains and reverse mechanism. Automatic watches work with the help of a rotor, which is connected to the motion of the wearer and then spins freely. This rotation channels the energy and winds the mainspring. If these watches are worn for a long interval, the time accuracy remains intact.

Automatic watches are more highly priced because they have numerous tiny parts which make it time-sensitive and labor-intensive. In addition, they also require high maintenance because they have to be worn daily in order to be active.


As we have discussed the origin and the working of the two movements, we shall now proceed toward the contrast between the quartz watch and automatic watch. The key to the right choice is dependent on what you are looking for in a watch. Below is a table that will serve as a medium for you to contrast between the two as a guide to help you make the right choice.

Recapitulate:                            Quartz                                          Automatic

Maintenance Low High
Cost Less Expensive More Expensive
Battery Usage  Yes No (Powered by a spring)
Accuracy More Less
Winding No Yes
Buyer’s Preference More Less



Learning from the above summary, it can be said that each watch has its needs and wants. If you are looking for a low-budget, low-maintenance watch, then quartz is the right choice. However, if you are looking for a more high-end and more involved and intricate watch, then automatic watches are the answer. However, you need to remember that automatic watches should be worn daily for them to efficiently keep time. This may vary on the power reserve of the piece, but daily practice makes perfect.  Therefore, if you are a daily wearer, admire craftsmanship, appreciate the digital mechanics and want to stand out from the crowd, then the automatic watch is the solution.

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