Quartz vs Automatic watch which one to buy?

A Quartz vs Automatic watch decision? Which is better? This is a never-ending debate.

The quartz technology for the time was introduced in the 1960s. Since then watch enthusiasts have been debating over which style is better and more lasting.  Majority of the people don’t actually know the difference between the Quartz vs Automatic watch. They just want a watch which looks nice on their wrists and tells the correct time. Is this a correct approach to buy a watch? Maybe not, but you can decide that for yourself.

A watch movement is the engine of the watch. This engine functions as a powerhouse that makes the watch work. There are two kinds of watch engines nowadays quartz watch movement and automatic watch movement. The quartz movement of a watch is powered by a battery. However, the mechanical movement is powered by the release of energy from a wound up spring.

The mechanical watch movement is one of the greatest inventions of the human history. It first appeared in 17th century in Europe, an age when inventions like electricity, the microscope, telescope and steam engine were in progress.

Mechanical watches employ a spring called mainspring, which unwinds very gradually at a very specific rate. The kinetic energy of the spring is transferred to a host of cogwheels and gears, and this energy in turn is translated to the hour and minute hands on the dial of the watch. A very high level of craftsmanship goes into the assembling the wheels and gears of a mechanical watch, as ensuring its accuracy is a very difficult task. About fifty to three hundred little parts are assembled for the construction for a mechanical watch. This is the reason why mechanical watches are more delicate as compared to the quartz watches, however mechanical watches are more lasting if used carefully.

As a result, mechanical watches can be automatic or manual. Manual mechanical watches are connected to the person wearing the watch, as they require an action from the person himself in order to work properly. This action is the manual winding of the crown in order to tighten the mainspring. A complete wind can work for forty hours or more depending on the quality and the build of the watch.

Quartz vs Automatic watch which is better

Quartz vs Automatic Watch Movement?

A self-winding automatic watch winds itself automatically by the use of a pendulum that oscillates when the watch moves during wearing. The movement of the pendulum keeps the mainspring wound tightly.  Abraham-Louis Perrelet was the first person to invent an automatic watch. He employed the automatic watch movement in a pocket watch. For that particular watch, a fifteen-minute walk was sufficient to power it for eight days. So maybe it is the start of the dilemma quartz vs automatic watch.

Quartz watches are called by that name because a small quartz crystal is embedded in them. Why is this crystal embedded in the watches? This is because all time-keeping devices need something to count the time against. When current is passed through a quartz crystal, it creates exactly 33 oscillations per second. The frequency of a quartz crystal is almost constant. These oscillation are fed to an electronic chip embedded in the crystal. This chip converts the oscillations into impulses and the impulses in turn cause the movement of the hands of the watch. This process is the reason why the movement of the watch hands is called quartz movement.

Quartz movements are highly reliable and require little to no maintenance. They are also very durable owing to the fact that there are no mechanical parts in them. Quartz watches are very low in cost. More than ninety percent of the watches in the world are quartz watches. And this makes a big point in the question of quartz vs automatic watch problem.

What makes one watch type more special than the other?

Watches perform a very important function but they are also considered pieces of art. Mechanical watches are considered a thing of beauty, in the embodiment of the concept, in the design as well as the making of the watch itself. The complexity and the elegance of a mechanical watch definitely wins out in the end. Watch aficionados view mechanical watches, as a special connection to the customary watch making tradition. Mechanical watches are considered to have more soul, as they are put together by hand, and this can take up to days and months. And this is a great reason for choosing mechanical ones in the quartz vs automatic watch question.

Probably, there are not many people who can afford prestigious mechanical watches. The precision that goes into their making increases their value. Mechanical watches can cost up to hundreds and thousands of dollars and the value of these watches only increase with time.

Furthermore, Quartz watches are very simple and durable due to the lack of intricate technology. One rarely faces any problem with them and the battery only has to be changed once in a few years. Quartz watches are much cheaper than their automatic counterparts. They are perfect for daily use without any thought to their maintenance. Quartz watches are not desirable to expert time-keepers because quartz movement is just a technology that will grow outdated once the new one arrives, hence its value will decrease but the value of an automatic watch never diminishes.

Quartz Watch Automatic Watch
Powered By Battery Energy released from a spring
Maintenance Requires low maintenance Requires high care and maintenance
Cost Generally low cost but it can be high sometimes Generally very high cost
Durability Highly durable (can survive fall and harsh condition) Highly durable (only if cared for properly)

Quartz vs Automatic


For the practical use, it is difficult not to recommend an easy to use quartz watch but there is a definite charm to automatic watches. Almost all branded watch makers, opt to make automatic watches and those that do offer quartz watches, offer them at a much lower price.

At the end, it all comes down to the choice of each individual. Do you want a simple watch to measure time or do you like the idea of tradition and art coming together in a watch?

Another question you can ask yourself is that, if you were to one day hand down an heirloom, what would it be? Quartz vs Automatic watch?

About Erk

Erk is an engineer with a great passion for mechanical watches. He is a well-known watch enthusiast and he has written many articles on several watch oriented sites during the past 20 years.

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