Mechanical Movements

A movement is what drives or operates a watch. Manual and automatic movements consist of only mechanical parts, such as gear and springs. Discriminating connoisseurs and collectors typically prefer manual or automatic watches as they historically embody an accumulation of over 600 years of expertise, refinement and craftsmanship

Manual Movements

'Manual movements' are historically the most traditional movements typically found in very conservative, collectable and luxury watches. It is a time-honored watch movement dating back to the sixteenth century, still in production today. Often referred to as a 'hand-wound movement', the manual watch needs to be wound in order to function. Depending on the power reserve, this could be daily, every two days, once a week, etc. Many watch aficionados appreciate the timeless tradition of manual movements and take pleasure in the ritual of winding them.

Components of the Manual Movement Watch:

Small turn wheel on the side of the watch used to set the time. On a mechanical movement, either manual or automatic, the Crown is usually turned to wind the watch and/or set time.
Is the movement’s power source. The kinetic energy from winding the crown is transferred to the coil-shaped mainspring, which stores the energy by gradually becoming tighter.
Gear Train
Transmits the stored energy from the mainspring to the escapement through a series of minute gears.
Acts as a break. It takes the energy transmitted from the mainspring through the Gear Train and meters the energy into equal, regular parts.
Balance Wheel
Is the heart of the movement. It collects the energy to run from the escapement. The balance beats or oscillates in a circular motion, five to ten times per second. A watchmaker can adjust the balance to make the watch run faster or slower.
Dial Train
Is a series of gears that transmit regulated, uniformly metered energy from the balance wheel to the hands of the watch, allowing them to move.
Synthetic rubies set at points of high friction, similar to the center of a gear that is constantly in motion. Jewels are used as bearings in the watch to reduce metal-to-metal friction and wear, thereby improving performance and accuracy. Rubies are used because they absorb heat well and are extremely hard.

Automatic Movements

An automatic (or self-winding) movement is a mechanical movement that winds itself while worn on the wrist. It will generally require winding if it has not worn and has stopped.

An automatic watch will need to be wound prior to being worn. A good investment for an automatic watch is the purchase of a winding box. This will help keep your watch fully wound when it is not worn for extended periods of time.

Components of the Automatic Movement Watch:

An automatic movement has the exact same parts as a manual movement: Crown, Mainspring, Escapement, Gear Train, Balance Wheel, and a Dial Train, and an additional component, a Rotor, which enables the watch to wind itself while worn.


Is an oscillating (rotating) metal weight attached to the movement; allowed to swing freely in 360 degrees as the wrist moves. The rotor is connected by a series of gears to the mainspring. As the rotor turns, it winds the mainspring to give the watch energy.

The rotor is equipped with a clutch to disengage from winding when the mainspring is fully wound. Hand winding gives the watch a full power reserve and the rotor will keep rewinding the watch thereafter. Power reserve is a term used to indicate, in hours, the amount of energy stored in the movement. Thus, a watch with a 48 hour power reserve will run for approximately 48 hours before stopping.

Quartz Movements

A quartz movement uses a battery to power the operation of a watch. Quartz watches are considered to be the most accurate and reliable with minimal repair costs- the only exception being battery replacement. The battery will typically last 12 to 24 months before it requires replacement.

Components of a Quartz Movement Watch:

Is the power source of the watch. The battery on a quartz watch will generally last approximately 12 to 24 months before replacement is required. It becomes critical to replace the battery once it stops in order to prevent acid leakage on the intricate parts of the watch which can ultimately damage the watch’s movement.
Integrated Circuit
Transmits the electrical charge between various parts of the quartz movement, much like the gear train on a mechanical watch.
Quartz Crystal
The heart of the movement, it performs the same function as the balance wheel on a mechanical watch. The integrated circuit transmits a constant stream of electricity to the quartz crystal. A piezoelectric effect is produced when this electricity is introduced to the quartz causing it to vibrate at a rate of 32,768 vibrations per second. These vibrations create electrical pulses which are sent to the stepping motor through the integrated circuit.
Stepping Motor
Converts the electrical pulses into mechanical power which moves the hands of the watch. The stepping motor acts similar to a bridge that closes and opens. When the stepping motor is closed it sends every 32,768th electrical pulse it receives from the quartz crystal through the integrated circuit to the dial train which then moves the hands of the watch. When the stepping motor is open no electrical pulse is sent thus the hands of the watch do not move.
Dial Train
Transmits electrical pulses received from the quartz crystal to move the hands of the watch. It functions in the same manner as the dial train found in mechanical movements.

Auto-Quartz Movement

A dual movement watch that contains both movement functions of the automatic movement and the quartz movement. The auto-quartz movement offers a virtually maintenance free timepiece. There is no battery to replace or intricate parts that experience wear. It performs with the accuracy of a quartz movement.

Components of the Movement:

The auto-quartz movement joins parts of mechanical and quartz watches: the rotor, integrated circuit, stepping motor, dial train, with one additional component, the capacitor.

Reserves electrical energy produced by winding the crown through the movement of the rotor. The capacitor in terms of similarity is comparable to the function of the mainspring. The capacitor generates enough energy to run fully charged up to three days of wear upon winding the crown approximately 25 times or shaking it 10 times.

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