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Quartz vs Automatic Watch Durability – The Complete Guide

Curious about quartz vs automatic watch durability? You’re in the right place. 

In this article, we answer the following questions: 

  • What Is a Quartz Watch?
  • What Is an Automatic Watch?
  • The Pros of Quartz Watches
  • The Pros of Automatic Watches
  • Primary Differences Between Quartz and Automatic Watches?
  • Which One Is More Durable?

In short, nothing beats investing in an automatic watch made with good quality materials and craftsmanship as it will last a lifetime. That being said, owning a quartz watch has its own advantages that make it a great choice whether as a timepiece or as a fashion statement. 

How do quartz watches differ from automatic watches? And why are automatic watches more durable than quartz watches? So many questions, and just as many answers. Let’s begin. 

What is a Quartz watch?

Not all clocks are made the same. A quartz clock is made using a quartz crystal – this crystal helps to regulate an electronic oscillator that provides a high precision frequency signal. 

Quartz watches are battery powered, using an electronic movement to tell the time. When an electric current is run through a quartz crystal, it vibrates at a constant frequency. By using this precise frequency to keep time, quartz clocks can keep time very accurately. 

In general, quartz watches are relatively low maintenance – they only need batteries to keep running. Most batteries run out after three to five years, which is when you should change the batteries for new ones. Some quartz watches use solar energy to generate power, which is even better as conventional batteries are not needed.

Watches that use a quartz movement make up the vast majority of watches produced every year as they are affordable to produce, with few moving parts. 

What is an Automatic watch?

First off, let’s start with introducing mechanical watches. These watches are fully mechanical, with no need for batteries as they use a spring that moves a series of gears to tell the time. The spring must be wound manually from time to time, or the watch will stop. 

Manually winding the spring in a mechanical watch meant that the spring often experienced damage from wear and tear, needing the attention of a skilled watchmaker to repair it from time to time. A weighted gear and ball bearings were added to the watch mechanism, allowing it to wind itself using the wearer’s movements – thus, the automatic watch was born. 

If an automatic watch is worn continuously, the self-winding mechanism continues to run on the power generated by the movements made while the wearer goes about their day. Automatic watches often have power reserves, which means that they can store energy to keep the watch powered for a set number of hours. 

Automatic watches are beautifully made, often with fine gears handcrafted by watch artisans. These tiny, intricate parts take a lot of time and effort to put together, which affects the cost of the watch. 

What Are The Pros of Quartz Watches?

Now that we’ve introduced both quartz watches and automatic watches, let’s take a look at the benefits of owning a quartz watch. 

Pro 1

The first, clearest benefit of quartz watches is that they are more affordable compared to automatic watches. They are much easier to make than automatic watches, with fewer moving parts and less need for manual labour in the manufacturing process. As they have fewer moving parts than automatic watches, maintenance is also easily done when necessary, if at all.

Pro 2

Quartz watches are relatively low maintenance, only needing a change of battery every few years. In comparison, automatic watches require regular maintenance, including replacements for the mainspring and repair work for wear and tear on mechanical parts. While automatic watches can last a lifetime or more if well maintained, their self-winding mechanism will eventually stop if they are not worn for a long time.

Pro 3

Watches made with a quartz crystal are more accurate as the electric current from the battery vibrates the quartz crystal at a constant, consistent rate. Meanwhile, changes in the environment and the wearer’s physical movements affect the movement of an automatic watch. A quartz watch will be able to withstand the thumps, bumps and shocks of day to day life, while automatic watches will eventually need some adjustment to the correct time. 

What Are The Pros of Automatic Watches?

Automatic watches are crafted with great skill and artistry to deliver a beautiful, intricate timepiece to the wrist of the wearer. 

Pro 1

Most automatic watch brands pride themselves on their workmanship – some watches even have an exposed case back where the mechanical movements of the watch can be seen. They are normally sold as an aesthetically pleasing accent to the wearer’s style, more suited as a piece of jewelry or a statement piece than the usual quartz watch. Of course, quartz watches can also be beautiful works of art; it just so happens that automatic watches work for a set of different requirements.

Pro 2

Automatic watches can last generations if well taken care of. In cases like these, they are seen as investment heirlooms to be cherished and shared with loved ones. Well-made automatic watches are made with precision and accuracy in mind, and if they are worn all of the time without being taken off, they can continue to run indefinitely until maintenance is required for standard mechanism wear and tear. 

Pro 3

One distinctive trait of automatic watches is that the second hand moves multiple times a second – this makes the second hand look like it is sweeping across the watch face instead of the more common ticking motion that quartz watches have. Because automatic watches are powered by mechanical movement, better quality materials and craftsmanship are required to keep the watch running without problems for a longer time. Over decades, the time, money and effort invested in a quality automatic watch pays off.

What Are The Main Differences between Quartz and Automatic watches?

Besides the obvious difference being that quartz watches have a quartz crystal that generates movement, while automatic watches have a self-winding mechanism that does the same, they have several less distinct characteristics that differentiate them from one another.

Difference 1

Quartz watches are powered by electricity, while automatic watches are powered by kinetic energy stored in the mainspring of the movement mechanism. Most quartz watches are battery powered, but they can also be solar powered – the more features a quartz watch has, the more energy it consumes and the shorter the battery life. 

As quartz watches use electricity for their watch movement, their power source is easily replaceable and features such as compasses, electric illumination and stopwatches are available as add ons. Additional features like alarms and chronographs are also possible for automatic watches, but they are much more difficult to build into the watch.

Difference 2

Quartz watches can be analog, where the time is shown on a dial with rotating hands, or they can be digital, with the time shown as numbers on a display. All digital watches are quartz watches, while analog watches can be either quartz watches or automatic watches.

Difference 3

Automatic watches usually have a few seconds in variation a day. While acceptable, the amount of variation changes depending on many factors like daily activities, any shocks the watch might experience, temperature, and the wearer’s resting position. Quartz watches seldom experience any variation – if any, the difference is only clear after a long, long time because the variance in timekeeping is so small. 

Which one is more durable?

Quartz watches may require less maintenance, but an automatic watch will last much longer. Quartz watches only need periodic battery changes needed to keep them running, but their internal components can fail due to maintenance errors, battery leakage and static discharge. 

Due to the time and effort dedicated to crafting an automatic watch of good quality, automatic watch manufacturers take great care to select materials that have been tried and tested. These materials are able to endure all kinds of conditions and still maintain their function. With regular maintenance and occasional part changes, an automatic watch has an indefinite lifespan, making it an ideal choice for the long term. 

Conclusion

In general, quartz watches are more affordable and require less maintenance, making them an ideal choice for someone who is just looking for any old watch. For someone who is looking to invest in a well crafted wrist piece that will last a lifetime, an automatic watch is the way to go. 

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