Quartz watches are powered by a battery and work with a series of circuits. These circuits work to regulate the vibrations of the tiny piece of quartz crystal, which are used to mark off the passage of time. Quartz watches are less expensive than mechanical watches and are more accurate.
Mechanical watches are powered by a mainspring and work with a series of mechanical gears. Mechanical watches can lose several minutes a month in time, whereas quartz watches will lose only several seconds a month.
The MAIN difference between a Quartz watch and Mechanical watch is the Power Source.
Mechanical: This watch’s power source is a mainspring inside the watch, which creates energy as it gradually unwinds. This energy causes the balance wheel to vibrate back and forth more than 28,800 times per hour. This vibration creates the energy to make the mechanical gears turn and move the hands to tell time. There are two types of mechanical watches: Manual and Automatic
The spring on a manual watch is wound by manually turning the crown, as pictured below.
The spring on an automatic watch is wound by the random movement of the wearer’s arm, which causes a tiny rotor inside the watch to swing like a pendulum. It is the movement of the rotor that winds the main spring of an automatic watch.
Quartz: This watch’s power source is a battery that supplies energy to circuit. The circuit keeps a tiny piece of quartz crystal vibrating at a consistent rate of approximately 32,768 beats per second. It is the consistent vibrations that make a Quartz watch extremely accurate. Quartz watches can fall into 3 categories:
Kinetic (Motion) Powered
The difference in these 3 types of quartz watches is the source of power that keeps the piece of quartz vibrating:
- Battery Powered Quartz: This watch is powered by a battery. The battery sends electrical energy to a rotor whose movement produces an electrical current. This current passes through a magnetic coil to a quartz crystal, causing it to vibrate to provide highly accurate timekeeping. Most watch battering are the silver oxide type. Silver Oxide batteries usually last for 2 years: lithium batteries can last up to 10 years before they need changing.
- Light Powered Quartz: Instead of a battery, this watch is powered by light which enters the watch through the watch’s dial. A solar cell beneath the dial converts the light into electricity, which is then stored in this solar cell, called the ESU=Electrical Storage Unit. This energy causes the quartz crystal to vibrate. This energy storage cell never needs to be replaced. The ESU is continually re-charging itself whenever it is exposed to light.
- Kinetic or Motion Powered Quartz: Instead of a battery, this watch is powered by the movement or motion of the wearers’ arms. Inside the watch is a rotor, a semicircular weight, attached to an axis. As the wearer moves his/her arm, this rotor swings back and forth creating energy. This energy causes the quartz crystal to vibrate. This energy is stored in a capacitor. This capacitor continually recharges itself as the wearer moves his/her arms. The term “Kinetic” refers to Seiko’s proprietary quartz technology and is derived from Kinesis, the Greek work for energy.