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Types of Watch Movements

When it comes to watches, the type of movement used plays a crucial role in determining its accuracy and functionality. There are several types of watch movements available, each with its own unique characteristics and mechanisms. In this section, we will explore the different types of watch movements commonly found in timepieces.

Mechanical Movements

Mechanical movements harken back to traditional watchmaking techniques. These movements are powered by a complex system of gears and springs that require manual winding or self-winding through wrist movement. Mechanical watches offer a sense of craftsmanship and often have intricate designs visible through transparent casebacks.

Quartz Movements

Quartz movements are perhaps the most widely used and popular type of watch movement today. These movements rely on a battery-powered quartz crystal to regulate timekeeping. Quartz watches are known for their high accuracy and low maintenance requirements, making them a practical choice for everyday wear.

Hand Winding Mechanical Movements

Manual winding Calibers require the wearer to regularly turn the crown of the watch in order to wind up the mainspring and store potential energy.

One of the key advantages of manual winding mechanisms is their simplicity. Unlike automatic or self-winding watches, manual winding watches do not rely on any additional components such as rotors or oscillating weights. This makes them generally more affordable and easier to maintain.

Another benefit of manual winding mechanisms is their connection to tradition and craftsmanship. Many watch enthusiasts appreciate the ritualistic aspect of manually winding their timepieces, as it creates a personal bond with the watch and adds a sense of involvement in its functioning.

Automatic Mechanical Movements

Automatic movements fall under the umbrella of mechanical movements but feature a self-winding mechanism. This means that they do not require manual winding as they harness the natural motion of the wearer’s wrist to keep them running. Automatic watches combine the charm of traditional craftsmanship with the convenience of not having to wind your watch in regular intervalls.

Battery Powered Quartz Movements

There is no mystery here. This movement requires a battery as a power source, and the battery needs to be changed after a certain amount of time. However, some calibers have a battery life of up to 10 years.

Apart from the obvious disadvantage of having to visit a watch shop for a battery change and the environmental implications of battery production and disposal, opening a watch improperly or without an approved service can cause the sealing to wear off or not close properly. This can affect the water resistance of your watch.


A Mecaquartz movement combines quartz technology for the main functions of the watch with a mechanical module for operating the chronograph, which gives its second hand a smooth sweeping motion, similar to an automatic watch. This is in contrast to most quartz chronographs that tick with each impulse. The most popular example of this is the Seiko VK64.

The advantage of this type of mechanism is that it provides the quality feeling of a sweeping second hand, while being more economical and streamlined compared to a mechanical movement. However, a downside is that it requires a battery change after a certain period of time.

Solar Powered Quartz Movements

A solar-powered watch has a quartz movement and a solar cell that converts light into energy to power itself. Any surplus energy is stored on a rechargeable battery. The solar cell is typically hidden below the regular watch dial and does not need to be visible.

With a full charge, the watch can run for several months, even in darkness, without the need for regular battery replacement. Some of the most popular solar-powered watches include the Citizen Eco-Drive and a range of analogue and digital models offered by Casio.

What do the different specs of mechanical movements mean?

Power Reserve

 The power reserve of a mechanical watch movement can range from 38h to 105h, although there are exceptional calibers like the Panerai P.5002, that offer up to 8 days!

Oscillation Rate

The power reserve and the precision of a caliber depend, among other parameters, on the beat rate. That is, how many times the balance wheel oscillates per second, and it is measured in Hertz (HZ) or in Vibrations per hour (vph). Presently, the majority of calibers available in the market oscillate within the range of 19,800vph to 21,600vph.


The quantity of jewels on a mechanical watch refers to the number of synthetic rubies or synthetic sapphires used as bearings within the movement. These jewels serve as friction-reducing components, allowing the movement’s gears and pivots to rotate smoothly and minimizing wear and tear.

The jewels are strategically placed at key points within the movement where the most friction occurs, such as the escapement, balance wheel, and winding gears. By using jewels as bearings, the movement’s longevity and accuracy are improved, as the jewels reduce friction and help maintain stable performance over time.

It is important to note that the number of jewels does not necessarily indicate the quality or complexity of a movement. While higher-end movements may have more jewels due to their intricate designs and additional features, the number of jewels alone should not be the sole factor in determining the overall quality or performance of a mechanical watch. Other factors, such as the craftsmanship, finishing, and complications, also play significant roles.


The term “hacking” or “no-hacking” mechanism refers to the ability to stop the seconds hand for the purpose of synchronizing the watch.

Who is the manufacturer of my watch movement?

If you own a watch from a microbrand or even a more well-known traditional watch manufacturer, there is a high probability that the automatic, manual, or quartz movement was supplied by a third-party Swiss or Japanese caliber manufacturer.

Here are some of the most important third-party watch caliber manufacturers:


ETA, a subsidiary of Swatch Group, is one of the largest and most well-known third-party watch movement manufacturers. They produce a wide range of calibers, from basic three-hand movements to complex chronographs and automatic movements.


Sellita is a Swiss watch movement manufacturer that has gained popularity in recent years. They specialize in producing reliable and affordable mechanical watch movements, often used as alternatives to ETA calibers.


Miyota, a Japanese company owned by Citizen, is known for producing high-quality quartz and mechanical movements. They offer a diverse range of calibers, including automatic movements with complications like day-date and power reserve indicators.


Ronda is a Swiss manufacturer that specializes in quartz movements. They produce accurate and reliable calibers used in a variety of watch styles, from casual to luxury timepieces.


Soprod is a Swiss watch movement manufacturer that produces both mechanical and quartz calibers. They are known for their innovative designs and offer a range of movements with different complications.

These third-party caliber manufacturers play a crucial role in supplying movements to numerous watch brands worldwide, offering a wide selection of reliable and cost-effective options for watchmakers and enthusiasts.

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