Understanding Watch Movements
Put simply, when discussing the movement of a specific watch, one is referring to what makes a watch tick. Like anything else that moves, watches require energy to rotate the hands across the face of the dial at the perfect speed. Some watches are run mechanically and require physical movement or winding to charge this energy, while others are electric and are powered by batteries. The three main types of watch movement are electronic, manual, and automatic.
Electronic movement may also be referred to as module and refers to watches that are battery powered. Included in this distinction are quartz movement watches, yet not all electronic movements are quartz. This type of watch keeps the most accurate and reliable time and tends to be more affordable than automatic movement pieces. The average battery life is 1-3 years, however additional complications, or functions, will shorten the lifespan, so be sure to check product-specific information.
The oldest form of watch movement, a manual watch must be wound by hand daily, making sure to wind at the same time each day. Care must be taken to not over-wind manual pieces as this will damage the internal mechanism of the watch. This type of design can lose accuracy over time, and pieces generally require servicing every 3-5 years. However, it is important to check what is recommended for your specific watch; information on when to service your watch and how best to care for it should always be included. While most manual movement pieces are vintage, you will on occasion find newer pieces designed to please those enamoured with the artistry of the mechanics.
Like manual watches, automatic pieces function entirely via mechanical parts such as springs and gears. The movement for mechanical watches is sometimes also referred to as calibre. The kinetic energy running automatic watches is wound via motion, such as the movement of your wrist when worn or a watch winding machine, instead of manually by winding. The accuracy of automatic watches relies on frequency of wear, and they tend to require servicing every 3-5 years just like manual timepieces. Again, it is still vital to check what is recommended for your specific watch.
Mechanical watches (manual or automatic) are more complicated and labour intensive to produce than electronic, battery-operated pieces, and thus tend to be more expensive. Watches from vertically integrated companies such as Seiko or Rolex tend to be more exclusive and sought after, since these companies do not outsource the construction of their watch movements and produce a reliable quality. High quality watches of all movement types are available. If you require any assistance in finding a piece that fits your needs, feel free to contact us at Steffans Jewellers, our specialists would be delighted to assist you.