A watch is a timepiece intended to be carried or worn by a person. It is designed to keep working despite the motions caused by the person's activities. So sure, we’d rather go mechanical for us watch lovers but to overlook quartz watches is to overlook unique performance in some pretty cool purpose-built timepieces.
While modern horology is all about insane complications these days, even basic mechanicals are lots of fun when we get to peek under the hood. It’s part of why watches fascinate us. But quartz watches? They give one the feeling of an absolute black box: no clue what goes on in there apart from the battery, stepping motor or maybe the integrated circuit if you're lucky? Is it just a little black plastic movement the size of a token and a little battery that makes the whole thing go? Quartz watches are, by their very nature, more accurate and often more comfortable to wear than their mechanical forebears.
Seiko VH31 Sweep Seconds Quartz Movement
Watches progressed in the 17th century from spring-powered clocks, which appeared as early as the 14th century. During most of its history the watch was a mechanical device, driven by clockwork, powered by winding a mainspring, and keeping time with an oscillating balance wheel. In the 1960s the electronic quartz watch was invented, which was powered by a battery and kept time with a vibrating quartz crystal. By the 1980s the quartz watch had taken over most of the market from the mechanical watch.
80s Swatch Quartz Watch. Photo by Like Totally 80s.
Today most watches that are inexpensive and medium-priced, used mainly for timekeeping, have quartz movements. Expensive collectible watches, valued more for their elaborate craftsmanship, aesthetic appeal and glamorous design than for simple timekeeping, often have traditional mechanical movements, even though they are less accurate and more expensive than electronic ones. Mechanical complications cost a fortune and quartz allows collectors inexpensive access to date, chronographs, GMT or moonphase to name a few. Some modern designs incorporate calculators, GPS and Bluetooth technology or have heart-rate monitoring capabilities. Some watches use radio clock technology to regularly correct the time.
Seiko Kinetic GMT watch. Photo by TheCoolList.
What I like about quartz watch is the grab and go attitude. Whenever I need to go out in short notice, my 1st choice would be a quartz watch as there is no hassle of setting date and time. Whenever I go exercise, I pick up my trusty G-Shock without having to worry about it taking a beating. Another benefit of quartz is that quartz movement can be made thinner than mechanical ones. Slimmer movements enable companies to produce sleek, streamlined watches. The world's thinnest light-powered analogue quartz watch, Citizen Eco-drive One houses a 1mm movement in a 2.98 mm case. If you like thin watches, go quartz!
Citizen Eco-Drive One. Photo by Watch Time.
Quartz watches don't need as much maintenance as mechanical ones. The latter require regular cleaning and oiling, which can be a time consuming and expensive process. With a quartz watch, an inexpensive, while-you-wait battery change is all you need and if you remove the battery when you're not using the watch, the battery will not leak and your quartz watch will last you a long time too.
Before you head out to get another watch, work out which movement type will suit your lifestyle and personal tastes and enjoy the journey.
Vario Eclipse Sweeping Quartz Watch
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