What is a quartz watch? is it better than an automatic watch?

Today we are going to answer some of the important questions related to the quartz watch, specifically, What is a quartz watch? is it better than an automatic watch? read on to learn everything related to quartz watches.

What is the difference between a quartz watch and a mechanical watch?

The answer may seem obvious to insiders, but I am frequently asked this question and it suggests to me that we should not fall into elitism.

One of the goals of this blog is to democratize the world of watchmaking and it is clear that a large part of the population does not know the difference between a quartz movement and a mechanical movement and definitely does not have to blush.

In quartz watches the stored energy is supplied by a button-type battery. If it is not rechargeable, it can power the watch for several years, but if it wears out, it will need to be replaced with a new one.

The pulse is generated by a crystal oscillator that vibrates when an electrical current flows. This is known as the reverse piezoelectric effect. The crystal shape of a watch often resembles a tuning fork. In most cases, the frequency is 32,768 Hz, which is much higher than the frequency of mechanical watches. Therefore, quartz watches are much more accurate.

The circuit divides the frequency by 2 until the 1-second interval is reached. Therefore, the secondhand moves once every second. If the watch is not a pointer, in most cases the LCD screen will be responsible for displaying the digital time.

Quartz watches

A quartz watch runs on a battery. A thin strip of quartz oscillates at a stable frequency under the electrical impulse of the battery and brings the watch to life.

How does a quartz watch work?

What is a quartz watch? is it better than an automatic watch?

To generate these impulses, electrical energy from a battery is applied. This battery is of very small dimensions called a button cell. When applying a potential in quartz, a vibration or impulse is generated at a specific frequency.

Quartz frequency

These pulses are emitted every few microseconds and constantly. In this way, it is enough to count several of said impulses to obtain hours, minutes, and seconds. The frequency of quartz is 32,768 Hz, which means that every second the quartz emits 32,768 impulses.

This is also called the resonant frequency. This is due to how the electrons of its molecules are arranged within the crystal.

These quartz watches come with small electronics that will determine every time a second occurs. The number 32,768 is very interesting since it is a binary number of two raised to the power of 15. Electronically this is relatively simple since by means of bistables it is possible to divide this signal and determine exactly when a second occurs.

From that measurement, other mechanical components are added that will allow the hands of the watch to move or, if it is a digital watch, to present the time on a liquid crystal screen.

Mechanical watches

There are two types of mechanical watches: manual winding and automatic winding. Unlike quartz watches, they do not draw their energy from a battery. An automatic watch is therefore mechanical in essence.

  •  Mechanical watch with manual winding: it is necessary to regularly wind the watch manually by turning the crown.
  • Automatic mechanical watch: the watch is wound thanks to the movements of the wrist of its owner. A rotor (half-disc) rotates on its axis with each movement and winds the timepiece (a rotor in action in the video below). However, it is still possible to reassemble it manually.

Advantages

  • Case: Mechanical watches often reveal their innards through the transparent back of the case…a feast for the eyes.
  • Display: Observe in the video below, the fluidity of the second hand of a mechanical watch compared to a quartz watch. The difference in frequency explains this phenomenon.
  • Durability: A well-maintained watch will last longer than a quartz watch.
  • … It’s a mechanical watch!

Disadvantages

  • Maintenance: revisions every 5 years are necessary although most owners of mechanical watches wait for the breakdown to take them to the watchmaker.
  • Price:  Prices are much more important.
  • Accuracy: Mechanical watches are less accurate.
  • Shocks: they are more sensitive to shocks.

What is better quartz or an automatic watch?

The quartz watch has a series of advantages that we will see below that make it an ideal watch for the day today. Repair or maintenance tasks are much less than in automatic watches.

Advantages of a quartz watch

Precision

The first advantage, although many people do not know it, is that a quartz watch has greater precision than an automatic watch. As we have been told, it is based on the resonance frequency of a quartz crystal, which is always the same, and a small electronic.

Duration

Another of its advantages is that in a quartz watch when we see that its operation begins to deteriorate, it is as easy as changing the battery for a new one. The cost of a battery change is very cheap compared to a revision of the caliber of an automatic watch.

Price

Speaking of the economic part, a quartz watch is an affordable watch for anyone. Its price is 10-100 times lower than a mechanical one with similar features.

Maintenance

Maintenance is also cheaper since specialized watchmakers are required for automatics. In addition, they should spend more time reviewing an automatic.

Another advantage is that a quartz watch does not stop when you stop using it. It stops when the battery runs out and that can last between 3 and 5 years depending on the model. On the

other hand, an automatic watch will stop working after several days of not wearing it. Unless it is stored in a special cabinet or box that is periodically balanced. In the case of manual winding, they will also stop after a few days if they are not wound.

Features

Another advantage, indicate that quartz watches, and especially digital ones, allow you to add an unlimited number of functions. Functions such as stopwatch, alarms, countdown, tide status, since it allows the incorporation of electronics, processors, and also sensors.

Resistance

Another advantage of quartz crystal watches is that they are much more resistant to shocks or magnetism. Although the movements or calibers of automatic watches have greatly improved in robustness and protection against magnetic fields, they are relatively sensitive.

If they receive a strong blow, a piece can come out of its place and the repair is usually expensive due to the hours that its repair may require.

Comfort

In terms of comfort, it should also be noted that a quartz watch practically does not need time adjustments. On the other hand, when an automatic or winding watch stops, it is necessary to make these adjustments.

Disadvantages or drawbacks of a quartz watch

A disadvantage or small inconvenience is to keep in mind that if a quartz watch is not used for a long period of time, it is convenient to remove the battery so that it does not break in case of the battery leaks once it is exhausted.

Resistance

Today almost all quartz watches are water-resistant. Therefore, it is necessary to carry out proper care and maintenance so that the joints are in optimal condition and ensure their tightness.

Recycling

It could be said that at the level of contamination from the point of view of the batteries, they would be more polluting. In any case, the entire manufacturing cycle should be seen since an automatic watch carries a large number of parts and labor that also has an impact on the environment.

Useful life

In the long term, an automatic watch can last more than 30, 40, or even 100 years. This is because the quartz ones suffer from water or humidity as they have internal electronics. On the other hand, the automatic is mechanical, it can be disassembled, cleaned, repaired, and lubricated and parts can also be replaced if they are damaged.

long-term value

The value of a quartz watch will be short-lived since as it ages most of them will lose their value. On the other hand, an automatic watch is such a complex machine with an advanced level of manual manufacturing, it will always have more value.

Even in some cases, as the years go by, it will maintain its value and could even increase. If kept in good condition it can even be a productive investment.

Personality

An automatic watch has personality, having more manual manufacturing, although there are industrially manufactured watches, they will always be unique and different. It is a more traditional product that has an associated value. It represents a piece of art as it is a marvel of engineering, it is an interesting piece from the point of view of a jewel.

Frequently Asked Questions about Men’s Quartz Watches

How to recognize or identify that a watch is quartz?

As we have indicated, a quartz watch has a small quartz crystal inside as well as a button cell. Generally, quartz watches are associated with digital watches, however, there are quartz watches with an analog dial in their hands.

It could be the case that we do not know if it is quartz or automatic. To identify them, it can be seen that the weight of an automatic is much greater due to the load of metal parts that it includes.

Another important difference is the price, a quartz watch can be worth between 10 and 100 times less. compared to an automatic with similar features and exterior qualities.

Another difference is that with automatic watches if we pay attention we can hear the internal mechanism. While the quartz ones you can hardly hear anything except the movement of the second hand.

Who invented the quartz watch?

In 1920, W. Morrison and JW Horton build the first quartz watch. This discovery was made at the Bell Telephone Laboratories.

Seiko used its Quartz Crystal QC-591 model to time trials at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. This watch had considerable dimensions and weighed about 3 kg.

When was the first quartz watch made?

It took 5 years to miniaturize it and on Christmas Day 1969, Seiko released the first quartz wristwatch. This watch was named Quartz-Astron 35SQ, and its price was 450,000 yen, the equivalent of a small utility car at the time.

Its operation was very precise since it was delayed only 5 seconds a month. It was made of gold and the advertising slogan was “Someday all watches will be like this”.

Compared to the traditional mechanical watch, the quartz movement offered high precision, it was less brittle.

When the technology was mastered, its manufacture was considerably cheaper. A few years later, this technology was consolidated by combining it with digital screens, giving it a differentiating and innovative feature that gave it an exponential boost. By the mid-1970s, quartz had won the battle.

first quartz watch

Why is a quartz watch more accurate?

Basically, the analog electronic movement has a battery that feeds a circuit that drives the wheels clockwise. The regulation of the frequency of the quartz crystal clock reaches 32,768 hertz, unlike the mechanical ones whose maximum frequency is 5Hz. It is a very considerable difference, and it makes quartz mechanisms much more precise than any mechanical movement watch.

What is the most accurate quartz crystal watch?

The most accurate quartz watch today is the Citizen Caliber 0100 as it breaks the accuracy barrier. It offers a super quartz caliber with a maximum deviation of one second per year. There is currently no other wristwatch in the world with such precision. As these are limited units, the purchase cost is very high.

How to measure the precision of a quartz watch?

The most demanding people hardly grant two seconds of delay per day, however, the conventional thing is to grant between 4 and 6 seconds daily.

In the world of mechanical watches, a watch that loses 6 seconds per day, that is, one minute approximately every 10 days, is considered accurate. If you lose more than 6 seconds per day with respect to the official time, you may have a problem with the movement.

Regarding the time setting of automatic watches, it is advisable that, at a minimum, you adjust the time of a mechanical watch at least once a week.

What is COSC?

Initially, the watch brands themselves specified the precision of the watches, and in some cases caused fraud. This forced the COSC (Controle Official Suisse des Chronometers), the official control of Swiss chronometers, to be founded in 1973.

COSC’s goal was to assess and issue independent certificates of accuracy for Swiss watches. COSC has three laboratories in Switzerland, where all new models from the world’s leading watch manufacturers are tested. The certification method consists of putting

Try the movement for fifteen days without a box. During this period, the movement works in five different positions with various temperature changes.

The COSC takes into account the daily variation, which it establishes at 6 seconds, but also takes into account the average variation, the maximum variation, the difference between the different positions, and the variation due to temperature. If the movement conforms to the standards, it is approved as a Swiss chronometer.

What is the maintenance of a quartz watch?

Of all wristwatches, quartz watches are the easiest and cheapest to maintain. It should be noted that this maintenance must be carried out periodically in addition to checking the battery status or replacing it periodically. In some cases, if the battery runs out before its review, it must be replaced.

It is not convenient to leave a dead battery inside a watch. When the batteries are exhausted they can suffer some kind of leak that would damage the inside of the watch and could even make it unusable.

Recommendations for quartz watches

Our recommendation is to carry out the corresponding periodic revisions so that maintenance tasks can be carried out. In the case of water-resistant watches, it is necessary to periodically change the joints that give the watch its water-tightness.

Also, in watches that include a hand mechanism, it is convenient to clean and lubricate them properly to avoid friction and problems. For this, we recommend that these tasks be carried out by professionals who use original parts and cleaning materials of quality and validated by manufacturers.

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