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WATCH MOVEMENTS: The Three Main Types of Watch Movement

by Paul Symonds December 14, 2020 5 min read

1 Comment

WATCH MOVEMENTS: The Three Main Types of Watch Movement | Swiss Watch Trader

WHAT IS A MOVEMENT?

A movement is what makes a watch tick - or sweep. Most watch companies purchase either the entire movement or parts of the movement from other companies. There are only few of watch companies that are produce their own movements including Rolex, Breitling and Omega. These companies are referred to as Manufactures, and the watches they make are typically more expensive and highly sought after because of their exclusivity. Of the three main types of watch movement, automatic and manual are generally more expensive and hold their value better than a quartz movement.

 

THE THREE MAIN TYPES OF WATCH MOVEMENT:

The three main types of watch movement include the manual, automatic and quarts. Manual and automatic movements are mechanical; they are both made up of only mechanical parts like gears and springs. The quartz and auto-quartz movements have an electrical circuit and require a battery to run but may also have some mechanical parts. Mechanical watches are far more expensive than battery-powered ones because they are much more labor intensive to build. Even though battery watches are inherently more accurate, almost all collectors and connoisseurs prefer manual or automatic.

 

MANUAL MOVEMENT:

Manual Movement

A manual movement, frequently called a hand-wound movement, is the oldest type of watch movement made. A manual movement requires regular winding in order to work. Manual movements are the most traditional movements and are usually found in modern Swiss watches such as the Panerai Luminor and Omega Speedmaster.

Important aspects to consider before purchasing a manual watch:

  • Regular winding is required.
  • When winding a manual watch, it should be wound until there is a feeling of tension or tightness on the crown. If it is wound past this point, damage to the movement may occur.
  • Remove the watch from the wrist prior to winding or setting. Failure to do so will cause damage to the movement, crown, and stem.


COMPONENTS OF THE MANUAL MOVEMENT:

Crown: The wheel on the side of the watch that is used to set time. It can also be turned to wind the watch to run.

Mainspring: The power source of the movement. The kinetic energy from winding the crown is transferred to the coil-shaped mainspring, which stores the energy by getting tighter and tighter.

Gear Train: Transmits the stored energy from the mainspring to the escapement through a series of small gears.

Escapement: Acts like a brake, taking the energy transmitted from the mainspring through the gear train and pushing it out into equal, regular parts.

Balance Wheel: The heart of the movement, receiving the energy to run from the escapement. The balance wheel beats, or oscillates, in a circular motion between five and ten times per second. A watchmaker can make the balance wheel oscillate faster or slower, which in turn makes the watch run faster or slower.

Dial Train: Another series of gears that transmit the regulated, equally metered energy from the balance wheel to the hands of the watch, making them move.

Jewels: Synthetic rubies that are set at points of high friction, like the center of a gear that is constantly in motion. Used as bearings to reduce metal-to-metal friction and wear, they improve performance and accuracy. Rubies are used because they absorb heat well and are extremely hard.

 

AUTOMATIC MOVEMENT:

Automatic Movement

An automatic, or self-winding, movement is a mechanical movement first marketed in the beginning decades of the 20th century. It winds itself while worn on the wrist, eliminating the need for daily hand winding. However, if not worn for some time, the watch will stop and require a manual winding.

COMPONENTS OF THE AUTOMATIC MOVEMENT:

Crown: The wheel on the side of the watch that is used to set time. It can also be turned to wind the watch to run.

Mainspring: The power source of the movement. The kinetic energy from winding the crown is transferred to the coil-shaped mainspring, which stores the energy by getting tighter and tighter.

Gear Train: Transmits the stored energy from the mainspring to the escapement through a series of small gears.

Escapement: Acts like a brake, taking the energy transmitted from the mainspring through the gear train and pushing it out into equal, regular parts.

Balance Wheel: The heart of the movement, receiving the energy to run from the escapement. The balance wheel beats, or oscillates, in a circular motion between five and ten times per second. A watchmaker can make the balance wheel oscillate faster or slower, which in turn makes the watch run faster or slower.

Dial Train: Another series of gears that transmit the regulated, equally metered energy from the balance wheel to the hands of the watch, making them move.

Jewels: Synthetic rubies that are set at points of high friction, like the center of a gear that is constantly in motion. Used as bearings to reduce metal-to-metal friction and wear, they improve performance and accuracy. Rubies are used because they absorb heat well and are extremely hard.

Rotor: A half circle-shaped metal weight attached to the movement that can swing freely in 360 degrees as the wrist moves. The rotor is connected by a series of gears to the mainspring and as it turns, it winds the mainspring, giving the watch energy. The rotor is equipped with a clutch that will disengage it from winding when the mainspring is fully wound.

 

QUARTZ MOVEMENT:

Quartz Movement

A quartz movement uses a battery for its power source and does not need winding like a mechanical watch. It is the most accurate type of movement currently being produced.

COMPONENTS OF THE QUARTZ MOVEMENT:

Battery: Like the mainspring on a mechanical watch, this is the power source of the watch. Typically, the battery on a quartz watch will last between 12 and 24 months before needing to be replaced. It is important to replace the battery as quickly as possible once it has died as there is a possibility of it leaking acid and damaging the movement.

Integrated Circuit: This ‘carries’ the electrical charge between the various parts of the quartz movement.

Quartz Crystal: Performs the same function as the balance wheel on a mechanical watch. The Integrated circuit applies electricity from the battery to the quartz crystal in a constant stream. Quartz vibrates when electricity is applied to it and also generates voltage when it vibrates.

Stepping Motor: Transforms the electrical impulses into mechanical power.

Dial Train: Functions just like the dial train found on a mechanical movement.

 

BUYING A PRE-OWNED MENS WATCH FROM SWISS WATCH TRADER

Our collection of pre-owned, used & second hand mens watches include Rolex, Omega, Breitling, Tudor, Panerai & TAG Heuer. At Swiss Watch Trader we specialise in selling only the very best mens watches and unless there is a valid reason, ALL our mens watches for sale will include their original boxes and papers. When buying any modern or vintage watch you need to ensure you are getting the very best example with as much of the original paraphernalia as possible. You should always look for a mens watch that is complete with its original inner and outer boxes, warranty certificate or card, manuals, hang tags and if possible original sales receipt. For more information on how to buy a mens watch from Swiss Watch Trader and the the services we offer including buying a mens watch on finance, head over to the information section.

For more information on our mens watches for sale including the Rolex Daytona & Rolex Submariner and reviews on your favourite mens watches and buyers guides, head over to the News & Reviews section. Please get in touch if you have any questions about any of our new, used, pre-owned and second hand mens watches.

 

VIEW OUR MENS WATCHES FOR SALE

Contact Us today if you have a question about any of our mens watches for sale - we will be happy to help!

Paul Symonds
Paul Symonds


1 Response

Suhayl
Suhayl

January 04, 2021

Interesting read Paul thank you. Looking forward to the next one.

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