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Differences Between Automatic and Quartz Movements

Automatic vs Quartz Movements

The differences between automatic and quartz watches’ movements rely on the mechanism that runs in the watches. For instance, in quartz watches are run by batteries while an automatic one depends on perpetual motion.

When it comes to the function, quartz watches move using the battery which makes use of a tuning fork with low frequency. It creates oscillation via electrical current in order to make impulses that run the watch. On the other hand, an automatic timepiece has a spring-loaded mechanical motion, possessing a balance that has a half disc shape. The wearer must then move for the watch to operate and wound.

Going further, a quartz watch gets to measure time through a tiny synthetic quartz piece. Responding to electric charge, the quartz vibrates very fast. Through these charges, the watch has the ability to keep track of time. Such type of watch may either have a digital LCD display or an analog dial having rotating hands.

The piece of quartz likewise acts as an oscillator. Just like every timepiece which has an oscillator that indicates how much time has already gone by, without this little piece of quartz, the watch won’t run.

As for the automatic timepiece, however, as mentioned earlier, since it depends on the wearer’s movements, it has a different case. An automatic watch is self-winding. Its winder is kept as is to allow the wearer to adjust the time and the date. As the body and the wrist moves, the rotor (metal weight connected to the winding mechanism) revolves freely on the staff of the movement’s center. With this, the rotor moves back and forth in a circle as the wrist moves even slightly. As the rotor moves, the mainspring (a spring that’s flat coiled and is powering mechanical watches) is wound.

Now, going to accuracy, an automatic and a quartz watch have differences too. Well, quartz-powered watches can gain or lose five seconds every year, as per the mechanical movement’s quality and age. Meanwhile, automatic timepieces can gain or lose up to around eight seconds per day based on the mechanical movement’s age and quality.

In replacing the battery, for quartz watches, they have to be substituted every three to five years. If not done so, the battery may leak and can lead to damaging the watch. For the automatic watch, on the other hand, the battery need not be replaced. It just needs to be oiled and serviced every five years.


1. A quartz watch functions through a low frequency tuning fork that is run by electric current while an automatic watch is powered through a spring that moves along the wearer’s motion.
2. A quartz watch’s battery must be replaced every three to five years while that of an automatic watch need not be replaced. It just needs to be serviced or oiled.
3. A quartz watch can lose or gain five seconds or less every year, while in an automatic watch, it can lose or gain up to eight seconds per day.

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