Watch Movement 101: Automatic vs. Solar vs. Quartz
The movement is the heart of the watch. It is the mechanism that keeps and displays time on the dial. The movement can be electronic (as in quartz and solar watches) or entirely mechanical (as in our automatic watches).
Quartz movements are powered by a battery and use an electronic oscillator to keep time. The battery sends an electrical current through the quartz crystal, which vibrates at a very precise frequency. This vibration is then used to power the watch. Quartz movements are accurate and require little maintenance.
Solar movements are powered by light. Solar cells (miniature solar panels behind the translucent dial) convert sunlight or artificial light into electrical energy, which is then used to power the watch. Solar movements are also accurate and require little maintenance.
Automatic watch movements are powered by winding a mainspring. The mainspring stores energy and releases it gradually, powering the watch. Automatic watches are sometimes called self-winding because they wind themselves when you move your arm. Automatic movements are less accurate than quartz movements but don't require battery changes.
Differences between automatic and quartz/solar movements
There are several key differences between quartz/solar and automatic watch movements:
- Quartz and solar movements are powered by batteries, while automatic movements are powered by winding a mainspring.
- Quartz and solar movements are more accurate than automatic movements.
- Automatic and solar movements don't require battery changes, while quartz movements do.
- Automatic watch movements are more expensive to manufacture than quartz or solar watch movements.
The Redwood Brothers