Home Continuing Series Historical Horology Historical Horology: How Does A Quartz Watch Work?

Historical Horology: How Does A Quartz Watch Work?



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Many, many times, we are rather eager to push quartz movements to the side as we quest for the perfect mechanical movement.  And to be sure, mechanicals (manual or automatic) are miniature mechanical marvels.  In my opinion, though, quartz movements do have a purpose – whether its in keeping prices down, helping a watch be truly robust for whatever the activity, or giving you a watch that is dead accurate.

Whatever the reason, we all likely have at least one quartz watch kicking around in the old watch box.  So, to that end, it would behoove us to understand how, exactly, those work, right?  The very quick summary is that you’ve got an electric pulse setting a quartz crystal to oscillating at a very predictable frequency – enabling accurate time keeping.

And you may even argue that these have no place in the Historical Horology section, given that quartz movements have only been around since the 1970s or so. I put forth, though, that they’re an integral part of the landscape, and have shaped the industry (for better or worse, you can decide for yourself).

You’ll definitely want to pop over to A Timely Perspective and check out their quick article on this topic (link).


All images courtest of A Timely Perspective.

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  1. The angst over quartz movements is the most misdirected and most frustrating attitudes in this hobby. You have to step very high in the market to find a mechanical caliber that epitomizes the gushing virtues that are waxed poetically by some individuals for all mechanical movements. Tech wise, there isn’t that much difference between quartz and mechanical. Just a different source of power and harmonic time reference. Everything else is just transmission between the two.

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