Over the past five years I have been working at Samuel Gordon Jewelers, there is one main question that almost always pops up when someone is considering options while shopping for a fine timepiece.
The question is: Which is best suited for me, a battery powered Quartz watch or an Automatic movement containing moving parts inside the casing to keep it running? To answer this accurately, I would have to say there are specific reasons that both have their pros and cons to consider when weighing which piece of machinery is best suited for your needs. What might be a perfect fit for one person may not exactly be the best choice for another. Both types of movements have their pros and cons. By knowing a few specific things about each type of movement, you should be able to determine which watch is the better choice for you personally.
Depending on your preferences, quartz watches do have some definite benefits over automatics. One benefit is accuracy. Quartz watches are extremely accurate. Their margin of error is less than one second per day. If you are in a line of work or and industry where you need precision, I would highly recommend this type of movement.
Another benefit for some people is the weight factor. A Quartz movement timepiece in many cases are much lighter than the automatic version of the same style watch, which look the same but in reality contain two entirely different mechanisms inside.
The final point I will make of a possible benefit to many would have to be the maintenance factor. As a rule of thumb, Quartz movements are powered by a battery, so therefore they do not rely on motion and moving parts alone like an automatic, which results in servicing being much less expensive. Power Cells (or watch batteries) usually run continuously for about two years. This means you won’t have to wind the watch or reset the time if you don’t wear it for a couple of days like you would on an automatic movement that is powered by movement and motion.
Recap: Accuracy, Price, Maintenance
Another disadvantage for a quartz watch is water-resistance upkeep and maintenance. Due to the fact a battery replacement is needed approximately every two years, the watch case is opened more frequently and therefore needs the seals and gaskets replaced at that time to ensure it is restored back to the condition of water resistance stated on the case-back, if any. If you choose to have just the battery replaced and not the seals and gaskets, then you are at risk of getting moisture into the watch, which will most definitely cause severe damage to the movement itself if it occurs. It does cost a bit more, but depending on the price you paid for the watch and the importance of the timepiece to you, it’s a personal decision on what you decide is best for you.
Recap: Replacement, Water-Resistance, Repair
Automatic movement watches have several advantages over Quartz. Longevity is probably the number one benefit. Most automatic watches are considered to be heirloom pieces. This means they have the potential to last for several lifetimes, not just a couple of decades or more. Quartz watches have circuitry which will not last forever, Automatics are built with many moving parts and require no electronics to run. Therefore the quality of the parts in the piece can lead to a very long, if not, indefinite timepiece to hand down to generation after generation.
The next benefit I would have to address is the fact automatics do not have to be serviced nearly as often as quartz watches. This is a very good thing because the watch case isn’t opened as much, which means the water resistance will be at much lower risk for having any issues during the lifetime of the watch.
One more advantage that automatics have over quartz is not having to worry about a sudden stop due to an unexpected dead battery. With an automatic watch, if the watch has wound down and stopped for that reason, all you need to do is wind the watch by turning the crown, then reset the time and you are on your way again. Also, being a collectors item and in many cases higher resale value can also be considered benefits when it comes to mechanical or automatic watches. There are many automatic watches that are very valuable collector pieces due the workmanship, time, energy and craftsmanship that goes into making them a finished functional product.
Recap: Collectibility, Value, Longevity
There are a couple of disadvantages to consider when it comes to automatic watches, as well. Price is probably the number one reason most people would choose quartz over automatic. Automatic watches are more comlex and require more skill and precision to assemble, therefore they will almost always be priced higher than a quartz piece. The price of repairs and service on an automatic watch will typically be more than repairs on a quartz, but are needed less frequently.
Another main disadvantage for an automatic watch is ease of use if not worn or wound enough. With an automatic, if you don’t wear the watch everyday or if you just aren’t very active, then the watch will have to be wound and the time and/or date set before you wear it in a running state again. This process can be cumbersome depending on how frequently you wear the watch, how active you are, the ability of the length of each particular automatic movement to last time frame wise until wound down, and also if you have a if you have a winding box.
Winding boxes takes care of the problem of your watch winding down if you aren’t wearing it enough. They continually turn the watch intermittently in an enclosed case and come in many different form factors, styles and designs, and will ensure your watch is running all the time to initiate motion of the rotor spinning.
And last but not least, Accuracy. As stated esarlier as a benefit to a Quartz movement, it could be a disadvantage to someone who needs as complete precision when it comes to gaining and losing time. Automatics have been evolved over time to be extremely accurate, although they do lose a little more time than most Quartz watches due to the fact they are powered by movement and motion, unlike a Quartz which contains circuitry and is powered by a power cell.
Recap: Expense, Maintenance, Accuracy
Well that’s about it for now, love to know if you are have any questions about watches, topics you’d like see covered in future, or any experiences you have personally had have regarding this topic.
Thanks again, and looking forward to your feedback, comments and or questions down below.