Many people know that some watches work with batteries and some don’t. But what exactly keeps the watches without batteries running, and why might someone choose to get that kind of watch over one they can simply change the batteries in as they please? The answer is a lot more complicated than you think, and by the end of this article, you may find yourself with a greater appreciation for what goes into the different kinds of watches.
If you are thinking of picking up a brand-new watch, there are a number of factors to consider when judging the differences between Quartz watches, which use batteries, and mechanical watches, which can either be manual or self-winding. For tech lovers, the smart watch has also recently hit the market and become a big contender. Keep reading to learn the key differences between each one so you can make a more informed decision on the type of watch (or even watches) that might prove the best fit for your lifestyle.
Seiko SKX007 on Vario Ballistic Nylon strap
Powered by the slow release of energy from a spring that has been manually wound, mechanical watches are both the oldest type of watch and were the first to be popularized. You’ll find that mechanical watches are a mark of prestige, particularly due to their celebration of human craftsmanship, and the best example of them sit in museums and galleries around the world. While it was a necessary feature, their ability to work without the need for batteries means that you could pick up a mechanical watch worn by an ancestor of yours a hundred years ago, and if it were still in good condition, wind and wear it as is. In most cases, a mechanical watch will work for around 40 hours with a full winding, but there are other more expensive kinds that can keep going for around a week. Watch winders can also be used to take the pressure of manual winding your fingers.
Though they require a certain amount of dedication and care, we at VARIO have picked up on a renewed interest in mechanical watches as of late, and believe that this can be attributed to the acknowledgment of these masterful timepieces as a symbol of human mastery over watchmaking and the telling of time. In order for a mechanical watch to work accurately, it needs to be engineered with a certain level of precision to keep time as accurately as possible. The design for mechanical watches are also more varied compared with smart watches, as even when near invisible, there is often a special human touch to each one created.
If you have a desk-bound job where you don’t move around a lot on consecutive days to adequately power your automatic watches, you may find hand-wound watches even more agreeable wrist companions.
Vario Eclipse Watch on ZRC watch strap
This is the most popular kind of watch sold, and has been since its introduction to the masses. Even now, as smart watches have emerged to dominate the market, they still retain their kingship position over the timepieces market share. Named for their tiny internal crystals that use precise vibrations to produce accurate time readings that far surpass the capabilities of the mechanical watch, Quartz watches are powered by battery, and maintain a high amount of precision for days and weeks at a time. An electronic oscillator synchronized by a Quartz crystal produces an electric current that is translated by a microchip circuit to accurately tell time without any moving parts.
Both their accuracy and the mass production they’ve enabled drove the cost of watches down to the levels we see today. Where before they were only a symbol of prestige, and passed down as valuable family heirlooms, now persons of all ages own and enjoy watches in countless styles and colors, and collections are possible even on a moderate budget. There are even entire brands dedicated to producing Quartz watches that are both highly functional and super affordable, such as G-Shock, Fossil, and VARIO. Of course, there are many high-end brands that continue to produce watches, both mechanical and Quartz, that hold enough charm and value to turn heads and hold sentimental and monetary value across generations.
Casio G-Shock on Vario Ballistic Nylon Strap
In addition to being much more accurate than mechanical watches, Quartz watches are also easier to maintain. You’re more likely to find parts and persons to repair a broken Quartz watch than a mechanical one, which sometimes has very delicate or discontinued internal parts. There are also automatic Quartz watches that use the natural movement of your wrist as you go about your day to generate electricity via kinetic energy, and as long as you’re active, you can keep the time much longer than regular Quartz watches by storing energy. With all this in mind, it’s easy to see why Quartz has remained king, though a more recent contender may become more popular as new ways are found to extend its battery life.
Apple watch on Vario Soft Silicone strap
Smart watches have been around for a while, but there’s no doubt that the launch of the first Apple Watch in September of 2014 sent it rocketing into the public consciousness. A smartwatch is a portable device that's designed to be worn on the wrist, just like a traditional watch, but unlike traditional watches, these have touchscreens, messaging, voice commands, emails, record heart rate and other vital signs – the list goes on and on. Of course, nothing this great comes without a downside. The largest problem with smart watches right now is the same problem mechanical watches face: they don’t keep the time for very long, and a fresh battery or recharge is required fairly often.
Smart watches are an extension of your digital connectivity. Users can synchronize their watches to access apps without touching their smartphones, allowing them to go nearly hands-free. They are designed to be wellness devices as well; tracking fitness goals with heart rate sensors and step counts. While many persons stopped wearing an analog watch after owning their first mobile phone, there has been a recent trend with persons now switching back to watches to tell the time and using their phone less. Naturally, many other big companies are throwing their hat into the smart watch ring, and Samsung, Fitbit, Garmin, Amazfit, and Fossil are just a few companies with multiple generations of watches out now. Just as the creation of Quartz watches made timepieces more accessible to the average person, the prices of these smart watches are continuing to go down as competition increases and parts become easier and cheaper to make. It remains to be seen whether Quartz watches will continue to dominate, or if smart watches will become the new king.
You may already have your preference for Quartz, mechanical or smart watches, but as with all trends, it’s sometimes a good idea to test out the different versions to see what all the fuss is about. Who knows? You may just find a new type of watch to add to your collection.
Titus watch with Vario Harris Tweed strap
I noticed there has been a renewed interest in mechanical watches as an alternative to quartz or smart watches and I think the reason that so many people are choosing mechanical watches is because they are a symbol of some of the best in watchmaking. In order for a mechanical watch to work accurately it needs to be engineered with precision. The design for mechanical watches are also more varied compared with smart watches. A good mechanical watch can last over generations with regular winding and care. Share your favorite type of watch in the comments below.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to update your style by replacing your worn-out strap to keep your watch looking fresh.
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