Understanding the Main Watch Movements Types

Understanding the Main Watch Movements Types

Watches are useful devices used to keep track of time and are also considered an accessory. No matter how the dial and case of a watch are designed, the most important part is the watch movement types. The mechanism can be thought of as the "heart" of the watch and provides the movement of the hour, minute hands, and other indicators. Although thousands of different watch models are on the market, these watches use only a few types of watch mechanisms.

In this article, we will examine these mysterious mechanisms. We'll take a quick look between the gears of these tireless mechanisms and accurately show the time.

What is a Watch Movement? Why is It Important?

A watch's movement mechanism is what gives meaning to the gears, dial, hour, and second hands. A watch looks like a car from the standpoint of its movement. The car’s engine is what gives it the power to move. Without the engine, that car is no more than a pile of junk. This mechanism controls the rotation of the clock gears and the progress of the seconds and hour indicators.
A watch movement has components like a mainspring, gears, a balance wheel, and escapement. They are essential to controlling complications, regulating time, and ensuring accuracy.

Several aspects make the movement mechanisms important.

  • Mechanics play an essential role in determining the margin of error and accuracy of watches.
  • Also, the maintenance needs of watches and the interventions required are determined by their movement features.
  • An acoustic or silent mechanism is among the features of these mechanisms.
  • The durability of watches is also among the features of types of clock movements.
  • The power reserve of a watch refers to the length of time it can run without being wound or recharged. Different types of watch movements have varying power reserve capacities.
  • Watch movements can incorporate complications, which are additional functions beyond basic timekeeping. Complications can include features like stopwatches, calendars, moon phase indicators, multiple time zones, and more.
  • Watch movements continuously evolve with advancements in materials and technology. For example, using silicon components in movements can enhance their accuracy, durability, and resistance to magnetic fields.

What Are the Watch Movement Types?

There are basically two watch mechanism types used in all watches. For each watch model, these movements have different characteristics. These are mechanical and quartz movements.

quarts type movement

1. Quartz Movement:

With this method, the system functions as a closed circuit. The clock cannot be interfered with, repaired, or corrected.

a. Working Mechanism:

Quartz mechanisms work by applying electric current to silicon dioxide crystals. It is based on the principle of vibrating 32768 times. Every 32768 vibration is counted by the oscillators inside the watch and converted into electrical energy. This energy powers the hour and second hands movement.

b. Benefits:

Quartz mechanisms allow time calculation accurately. Its monthly error rate is about +-10 seconds. Developed in the early 1900s, this method still ranks among the most reliable watch mechanism.

2. Mechanical Watches:

Mechanical clocks count movements through gears of a mechanism that converts energy into rhythmic movements. Their internal structure is complex, and they operate using springs or weights. This energy drives the hour and minute hands through the gears.

These watches are divided into two categories: manual and automatic. The mechanical movement has a reputation for being incredibly accurate with higher-end models.

a. Manuel Watches:

In types of mechanical watch movements that are manually wound, the crown knob is turned to wind the watch.As the crown knob is turned, tension energy is created by compressing the main spring within the watch. The tension energy is transferred to the gears and drives the clock mechanism. You simply need to turn the crown knob to operate the mechanical watch.

b. Automatic Watches

Automatic watches have a complex internal mechanism similar to manual watches. The self-winding feature on automatic watches allows them to be wound without manual winding. A semi-circular device called a rotor is a vital part of this system which helps to make it possible. To move the clockwork, the rotor interacts with the wheelset of the mainspring in the mechanism by rotating the wheels.

The first watch with an automatic movement was a pocket watch manufactured in Switzerland in 1770 by Abraham Louis Perrelet. The watch used a weight that was powered by walking motion. Over time, automatic watches were developed and modified. John Hardwood designed the first automatic wristwatch in 1923, which is considered the ancestor of modern automatic watches.

This mechanism could provide energy while walking and with spontaneous movements and continue to provide energy for a long period, even when stationary. With only 15 minutes of daily walking, it can work up to 12 hours.

3. Traditional Craftsmanship:

The mechanical movement is an example of the traditional craftsmanship of watchmaking. Usually, they are meticulously assembled by skilled artisans and involve detailed hand-finishing and decorations.

What Is the Difference Between Quartz and Mechanical Movements?

The movement type quartz is distinguished from a mechanical movement by its mechanism, power source, accuracy, maintenance requirements, and overall characteristics. The following are the most important difference between quartz and automatic watches;


A battery powers quartz movements and uses a quartz crystal to measure the time. As the crystal vibrates, electrical pulses are generated that drive the watch hands.

Mainsprings, gears, balance wheels, and escapements power mechanical movements. The mainspring stores energy that is transmitted through the gears, causing the balance wheel to oscillate and enabling the watch hands to move.

Power Source:

Quartz watches use batteries to power their movements. Mechanical movements can be manually or automatically wound. In manual winding, the wearer winds the mainspring using the crown, while in self-winding movements, the rotor rotates along with the wearer's arm movements.

watch mechanism type


Quartz movement accuracy is known for being high. A typical margin of error for these devices is a couple of seconds per month, making them extremely accurate. Mechanical movements can vary in precision, but they are generally accurate. Higher-end mechanical movements can provide superior accuracy within strict tolerances.


A quartz watch means that it needs low maintenance requirements. The battery needs to be replaced every one to two years, and occasional servicing may be necessary to ensure proper functioning.

Mechanical watches require periodic servicing, which includes cleaning, lubrication, and adjustment by a professional watchmaker. Mechanical movements can run for years or even decades with regular servicing.


Quartz watches are known for their reliability, affordability, and widespread availability. Mechanical watches are prized for their meticulous design, craftsmanship, and artistry. Their mechanical charm, heritage, and sense of tradition make them unique.


Quartz mechanisms can be manufactured at very affordable prices due to their low labor requirements. Quartz watches are cost-effective models. A quartz watch you purchase at a reasonable price can keep time for decades without any issues.

Mechanical watches, on the other hand, are high-craftsmanship timepieces. Therefore, they are more expensive compared to quartz watches.

Automatic and Quartz Difference:

Automatic and quartz watches are self-operating timepieces that require no additional intervention. However, their fundamental difference lies in how they store the necessary energy to power the watch.

Automatic watches store the required energy by harnessing kinetic energy from the natural motion of the wearer's arm. The movement of the arm winds the mainspring, which serves as the power source for the watch.

On the other hand, quartz watches utilize a battery to store and provide the necessary energy for the watch to function. The battery powers the quartz crystal, which generates electrical pulses to drive the movement of the watch's hands.

Which Watch Movement Type Is Best for Me?

Quartz is the most common clock mechanism on the market, and it is considered the best watch movement type. Quartz mechanisms require no maintenance other than battery replacement. Despite all these superior features of these mechanisms, their primary disadvantage is that they make ticking noise. However, silent quartz mechanisms work as if they were sliding without generating any ticking noise.

On the other hand, mechanical watches powered by kinetic movement can also be a suitable alternative to quartz mechanisms. These watches may be more expensive as they require more dexterity.

Which Watch Movement Type Is Used in Mclocks’ Wall Clocks?

At Mclocks, we use high-torque quartz mechanisms in our clocks. When used in large-diameter wall clocks, these mechanisms can generate more power, enabling them to operate quietly and accurately. With these mechanisms, we can smoothly run wall clocks up to a diameter of 45 inches. This allows the wall clocks to become the most eye-catching decoration in the room.

Moreover, our high-torque quartz mechanisms operate silently, creating a peaceful environment without any ticking sounds. This feature enhances the visual appeal of the wall clocks and makes them a captivating centerpiece in any space. With our clocks, you can effortlessly incorporate elegance and the beauty of time into your room decor.

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