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Ask the Experts: What are the Differences Between Quartz and Mechanical Movements?

We’re sure you’ve heard the saying “it’s what’s on the inside that counts” before. Of course you want to love the style of your timepiece but it’s just as important to have an understanding of what’s on the inside too. A movement (or calibre) is the heart of the watch that drives the hands around the face and powers any other features the timepiece has. It’s the engine that keeps the watch moving, functioning and telling time. Watch movements generally fall into two categories, quartz and mechanical. Discover some of the differences between the two below.

Second Hand

With a quartz movement, the second hand moves around the face of the watch with the typical tick-tock motion, once per second. With a mechanical movement, the second hand moves in a smooth, sweeping motion around the face of the watch.

Michele Signature Deco Diamond, Diamond Dial Watch (Quartz)

Power Source

A quartz movement utilizes a battery and a quartz crystal for power. When energy is applied to the crystal, it vibrates to move the watch hands. A mechanical movement uses a wound spring to power the watch. The spring stores energy that is released slowly through a series of gears that power the hands.


Besides the occasional battery replacement, quartz movements don’t require a ton of maintenance. Depending on which type you have (manual or self-winding), mechanical movements require winding as often as daily or as little as weekly.

Bremont ALT1 Classic
Bremont ALT1 Classic (Mechanical)


Mechanical watches require a very high quality of craftsmanship due to the many intricate moving parts found in the movement. Quartz watches generally have fewer parts and lack the complicated engineering and craftsmanship of mechanical watches.

Muhle Glashutte Antaria Chronograph (Mechanical)


While mechanical watches typically require more skill and engineering to manufacture, quartz timepieces are the most accurate in the world. Over the course of a year, it’s likely that you will lose one minute (or even less!) with a quartz watch.

michael kors gareth chronograph
Michael Kors Gareth Black-Tone and Leather Watch (Quartz)


Because they are battery operated and have fewer moving parts, quartz watches are typically much cheaper than mechanical watches. Mechanical watches, especially with movements that are made in-house, can become expensive due to the high level of skill and technology that goes into crafting each one.

Do you have a mechanical or quartz watch? Tell us in the comments section below!

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