Omega open case back Movement

What is a watch movement?

Exploring Different Types of Movement in Watches 

In this blog, we explore self-winding, manual, and quartz watches and briefly summarise how they work, their advantages and disadvantages and popular models.

What is Movement in Watches? 

Movements come in many forms and are produced by brands such as Rolex, Omega, Audemars Piguet and more. The movement in a watch is the powerhouse, the heart and the engine. Without the movement, watches would just be timeless bracelets.  

All movement types and brands will offer different accuracy, reliability, life span and quality. 

What is a Calibre? 

A Calibre is the reference number for a manufacturer's movement. For example, the movement in the latest Rolex Daytona is automatic (self-winding) and referred to as the calibre 4130. The latest movement for the Rolex Submariner is the calibre 3235. You may find the same movement in two different models from the same brand for example, the Rolex Datejust shares the same 3235 movement as the Rolex Submariner.

What is an Automatic Movement, and how does it work? 

An automatic movement, also identified as a self-winding movement, is powered by movement. The watch contains a swing weight that generates power and winds the mainspring. The main spring stores energy, which is slowly released into the movement to power it. The latest 3135 movement from Rolex has around 72 hours of power reserve once fully wound.

If you are not using your self-winding watch, they can wound by turning the crown the same way you would a normal mechanical movement. Most modern luxury watches will have a mechanism to prevent you from overwinding them.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Self-Winding Watches. 

Self-winding watches are arguably the best. These are the advantages of a self-winding watch. 

  1. It is better for the environment. No more batteries. 
  2. Complex mechanical movement.
  3. No need for winding if you wear it often.
  4. Quality power reserve. 

The disadvantages to these masterpieces are limited. However, some self-winding watches can be expensive, decrease in accuracy over time and require servicing, like any other mechanical equipment. 

Mechanical movements in watches 

Mechanical watches are a work of art, they consist of many parts and jewels to keep running. A mechanical watch has a mainspring that the user winds. Once charged, this mainspring will keep the time ticking and the cogs turning by slowly unravelling and releasing the energy it has stored.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Mechanical Watches. 

The advantages of a mechanical watch also apply to a self-winding watch, 

  1.  It works without the use of batteries, meaning you don't have to open the case back frequently  
  2. Smooth handmade movement that could be seen as a work of art

The disadvantages include the obvious: always having to wind your watch! This can be a joy to some and a chore to others. 

Quartz movements in watches

Quartz watches require batteries, tiny quartz crystals that vibrate when attached to an electrical current. This vibration is what allows the watch to tick. 

The Advantages and disadvantages of Watches with Quartz movement. 

Advantages of quartz watches include; 

  1. With better accuracy, these watches produce a reliable beat. 
  2. Cheaper, these watches don't require the complex craftsmanship that automatic and mechanical watches do. 

disadvantages of Quartz watches; 

  1. The battery needs to be replaced every 1-3 years. 
  2. Possibility for the battery to leak and destroy the watch. 
  3. Often Mass-made and less collectible

Popular Watches with Quartz Movement 

Most luxury watches don't use battery movements, however, some of the luxury watch brands do produce a small number of quartz watches. Currently, Audemars Piguet, Omega, Patek Philippe and a few others produce watches with quartz movements. Grand Seiko is becoming a more popular luxury watch brand with some very unique and well-made watches that house quartz movements. Rolex have previously produced quartz movement watches, including the Cellini, the Oyster quartz Date-just and the Oyster quartz Day-Date but don’t currently offer any Rolex quartz movements.

What is the best type of movement? 

Let us know in the comments. 

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