Do Quartz Watches Need Batteries? Why You Need A Quartz Watch
[7 min. read]
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There are a handful of different watch movements out there such as mechanical, automatic, or manual, but the movement in focus today, and by far the most accurate movement on the market, is the quartz watch movement. Below, we dive into what is quartz movement, do quartz watches need batteries, are they worth your money, and more! Let’s get started…
Wait, What is Watch Movement?
You may have seen or heard someone talk about their automatic watch or their quartz watch or you’ve maybe overheard someone explaining why they prefer manual movement over anatomical but have no idea what they’re talking about. In basic terms, a watch movement is what makes it tick, what gives it life, and what allows it to operate the way it does and for how long it does.
Short History of Quartz Movement Watches
Relatively speaking, quartz movement watches are a futuristic (sort of) invention. Up until the 1920s with the creation of the first self-winding automatic watch, watches generally ran solely on mechanical movements which were invented in the early 1500s. It wasn’t until the late 1960s that the watch game would be changed forever.
On Christmas Day 1969, Seiko sent a shock around the watch world by producing a brand new watch movement – the quartz powered Seiko Astron. The Astron was the most accurate timepiece invented as it was able to tell time accurately within 5 seconds per MONTH!
This astounding improvement in accuracy was made possible by numerous technological breakthroughs such as the tuning fork shaped quartz oscillator and the open type step motor which are still present in quartz watches today. Not only was the quartz movement nearly dead accurate, it quickly became the most inexpensive watch movement by far.
Shortly after releasing the Astron, Seiko opened their patent to the world and allowed for brands all over the world to provide quality, accurate, and affordable timepieces no matter where you lived. Because they can be mass produced and are relatively inexpensive for manufacturers to produce, quartz watches became and remain the most cost-efficient movement selection money can buy.
The emergence of this extremely accurate timepiece sent the giants of the watchmaking world into a frenzy and literally started what became known as ‘The Quartz Crisis’. The introduction of the Astron dealt a significant blow to the Swiss watchmaking industry who, despite the world moving towards the more modern electronic movement, chose to continue producing traditional mechanical watches.
Due to their inability to adjust, many Swiss watchmaking companies dissolved and, over the next decade, the number of Swiss watchmakers was reduced from about 1600 to 600. And although not as steep as the initial shock, the curve of swiss watchmakers continues to trend downwards even today.
The quartz watch introduced change into a steady, traditional industry but quickly proved how much of a disruptor it could be. The standards and design that made the original Astron so attractive can still be seen in quartz watches today. And despite their low cost, quartz movements remain the most accurate time telling watches in the world today.
Do Quartz Watches Need Batteries?
Yes, for the most part, but not all of them. We can explain.
Quartz movement watches work by using battery cells inside the case that send electric signals to a quartz crystal. These signals cause the crystal to vibrate 32,768 times per second and then, through a circuit, these vibrations are measured and converted into one electric pulse per second.
So, if by definition, the above description is what makes up a quartz watch, wouldn’t anything outside that realm not be considered a quartz movement? Not exactly.
The quartz watches that don’t have a ‘battery’ are either powered by a mini electrical generator integrated in the watch or by a solar cell that converts light into electricity to power the rotor. The generator and solar cell both perform the same action as the basic battery cell in the standard quartz watch by transmitting electric signals to a quartz crystal.
And it’s only fitting that one of the most prominent producers of these quartz watch anomalies is the movement’s parent company – Seiko. Seiko produces their watch that includes the electrical generator under the name “Kinetic” and also produces an eco-friendly solar powered watch – the “Pulsar Solar” – through their subsidiary brand Pulsar.
The Difference Between Kinetic and Automatic Watches
The main thing that sets quartz watches apart from the rest of the pack is the presence of the battery cells powering the watch. And one might assume that because they aren’t present, this should disqualify the watch from being considered a quartz movement. However, the presence of the quartz crystal remains the key differentiating factor.
The main difference between kinetic and automatic watches is that the energy produced by an automatic watch gets stored in a spring while a kinetic watch’s energy gets stored in a capacitor. I’m not particularly a fan of Kinetic for the simple fact that, to keep the battery charged, you need to be regularly wearing it. However, it is still as accurate as any other quartz piece when charged.
Despite the similarities in the way it produces energy, Kinetic remains a step ahead of automatic watches in accuracy since it still possesses the crystal. The quartz crystal’s unique ability to vibrate at a rate that almost perfectly tells time is what makes quartz movements and owning a quartz watch so attractive.
How Long Do Quartz Watches Last?
Despite dashing the competition in accuracy, quartz movement watches tend to lag in their lifespan. Your average quartz watch will last you up to 4 years, but it’s not uncommon to need to replace the battery after about 2 years.
Automatic and mechanical watches are often touted as pieces that will last you a lifespan. This is partly true simply because the methods used to charge them (winding for mechanical & physical movement for automatic) are virtually infinite. However, you can still expect to service these watches every 3-5 years depending on usage.
So, overall there’s not too much of a difference there and, luckily for quartz owners, replacement of a battery can run as low as $10!
Is a Quartz Watch Worth a Purchase?
Not only are quartz watches the most accurate wristwatch you can find, but they’re also the most affordable. Because they lack the overly complicated design and unnecessarily expensive metals present in most high-priced pieces yet remain more accurate than even the most expertly designed watches out there, a quartz movement is definitely worth a try!
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To close this out, no, technically quartz watches don’t need batteries. But this is only true because some watches that use quartz crystals are specifically designed to not need batteries. If you’re asking the question because you’re trying to find a way to use your watch without batteries, then I’m sorry to disappoint you.
But now you know that you can get the accuracy of a quartz movement with the characteristics of a mechanical or automatic watch – and you’ll save a ton of money doing it.
Or you can stick with the classic quartz movement and retain the same great time telling accuracy the quartz crystal provides!
About Black Tie Watch Co.
Black Tie Watch Co. is an American minimalist watch brand providing modern styles at affordable prices. We began operations in August 2019 out of Houston, TX and have been growing rapidly ever since. As of today, we have shipped our pieces to 27 countries across the world and look to continue to expand our global presence! Our watches proudly run on quartz movement to ensure they are as accurate as possible. Each watch also comes with a full year warranty so you can shop with confidence every single time!
If you’d like to check out our selection of modern, minimalist quartz watches, please click here!
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