The Difference Between Quartz and Mechanical Movements in Luxury Watches
To start things off, we just want to clarify that this isn’t a debate. Both Quartz and Mechanical movements have made tremendous improvements to the quality of timekeeping in luxury timepieces, and it is only right to carefully consider each movement before ultimately making a purchase. After all, the watch movement is the most critical driving force behind the functionality of a timepiece, and both Quartz and Mechanical movements have their place in the rich heritage of luxury watchmaking.
In order to identify the main differences, let’s start by examining both separately, which will ultimately allow us to draw parallels between the two movements and shed light on the key characteristics that set them apart from each other. We will also list the benefits of each with the goal of providing you with the pros of each movement, helping you form your own opinion on which one to consider.
Mechanical watch movements
Mechanical watches are powered by the intricately regulated release of energy that finds its source in a wound spring at the core of the movement. Mechanical movements (as if by name) use purely mechanical components to keep time, and the spring is wound by a rotor which turns in harmony with the wearer’s wrist. This means that there will never be a need to replace any batteries, as the power and timekeeping capability of the watch is not only based on the accuracy of the movement but also on the motion of the wrist, which is why mechanical watches are often called kinetic or automatic. Thus, continuous wear of the watch will keep the movement going, which will in turn store a power reserve that will keep the watch functional even when it is unfastened, with most luxury mechanical watches having a power reserve of 30-50 hours.
There is something truly special about being the owner of a mechanical watch, given the precise practices of perpetual perfection that go into creating them. They take a lot of intricacy, time, and skill to create, and automatic luxury watches are considered to be an investment that last you a lifetime when taken care of, which therefore makes them worth the expense. They are also incredibly precise, with many brands priding their horological heritage on delivering unparalleled accuracy through their movements. A nice feature of luxury mechanical watches is also the sweeping second hand, which moves multiple times per second to create the widely appreciated sweeping motion.
Quartz watch movements
Quartz movements are powered by batteries, and still hold a place within the realm of luxury wristwatches. They contain a quartz crystal that vibrates approximately 33 times per second, and these vibrations are converted into impulses which drive an electric motor within the mechanism, which is powered by a battery, ultimately moving the watch’s hands. While quartz luxury watches tend to be more affordable than mechanical luxury watches, they require a lot less maintenance and are far more accurate. For this reason, quartz movements are incredibly popular - for instance, did you know that quartz watches account for around 90% of the world’s watches? Quartz movements are perfect for those looking to purchase a luxury watch that is more reasonably priced along with the added benefit of low maintenance. With the initial release of the quartz movement by Seiko in 1969, the production of automatic watches was threatened, as quartz was a new technology that saw a huge success in creating an era of battery-powered watches.
The advantages of a quartz movement in a luxury watch is that they are recognised for their precision, as they rarely gain or lose time and are very highly praised for their accuracy. Battery-powered watches are also incredibly reliable, as they do not require any physical input from the wearer to keep the hands moving, which therefore makes them favoured by those who prefer a low maintenance watch. They are also less expensive than their mechanical counterparts, as they do not need to account for the many hours and skills required to create the movement. Above all, maintenance is simple - change the battery every few years!
So, which should you go for?
Ultimately, it’s all down to your personal preference. While mechanical watches are mind-boggling in their numerous complications and structural integrity, quartz movements are also a strong contender with their impeccable accuracy and low maintenance requirements. That being said, brands like Seiko who initially pioneered the quartz movement have since pushed the boat out even further by creating a series of highly regarded Spring Drive watches, which use quartz technology to modulate mechanical power, effectively combining the great accuracy of quartz movements with traditional craftsmanship associated with the mechanical movements.
At Oxbridge Watches, we pride ourselves on our mechanical timepieces on offer. Bremont watches are British-made luxury mechanical timepieces, carefully constructed in line with their uncompromising principles of durability, legibility and precision. Favoured amongst watch collectors everywhere, Bremont also pioneered new ways of constructing their watch cases, with their trademarked Trip-Tick design. Their movements are highly regarded and are of exceptional quality, and this clearly applies to all of the design elements present in their timepieces.
For the first time in history, Bremont have partnered with us to deliver you a range of Oxbridge Watches, serving as proud homages to your time in higher education, channelled through the engineered excellence of the Bremont AIRCO MACH 2 and SOLO 37 watches. View the range on our website to learn more about our mechanical timepieces and stay tuned for more industry insights and tips from us.