Mechanical and quartz watches


There are two main types of watches.

One is mechanical and the other is quartz.

Mechanical watches work by combining various parts such as mainsprings and balance wheels.

It does not use electrical power.

Therefore, there is no need to replace the battery, and it can be repaired many times and used almost indefinitely. Each manufacturer has their own unique way of finishing the parts and the mechanism, so each one is unique.

Because it uses parts thinner than a hair, it needs to be overhauled (disassembled and cleaned) every four to five years to remove magnetism and oil the gears. This costs about 50,000 yen, so maintenance costs are not insignificant.

However, manufacturers keep replacement parts in stock for repairs, and as long as the technology behind the mechanical watch is not worn out, it can be repaired and the watch can keep time again.

The mainspring is wound every day, and if the watch has a see-through back, you can see the movement inside, so it feels like a dialogue with the owner.

Mechanical watches, which capture the flow of time that we experience within their small case, are truly mysterious and seem to have a sense of life.

In contrast, the structure of quartz watches is the same regardless of manufacturer.

Because it is electrically controlled, its main feature is that it is much more accurate than a mechanical watch. To put it bluntly, a quartz watch that costs around 1,000 yen and is sold at the supermarket is much more accurate than a mechanical watch that costs 1 million yen.

Therefore, the advantage is that there is almost no need to wind the crown to adjust the time.

However, the battery runs out after 2 to 3 years, and it is not uncommon for the replacement batteries to also run out within the same period, so the biggest drawback is that they cannot be used for a long time.

In addition, the gears and other parts need to be oiled just like mechanical watches, so they need to be disassembled and cleaned when you replace the battery. This also costs more than 30,000 yen, so from the perspective of long-term use, it cannot be said that it is very cost-effective.

About mechanical watches

A mechanical watch moves the hands using the power generated when the mainspring unwinds.

There is no major difference between manual and automatic winding watches in terms of structure, as the only difference is the mechanism for winding the mainspring.

So how does it work? A mechanical watch is made up of four main mechanisms.

Power mechanism: barrel, mainspring

Gear train mechanism: from barrel to escape wheel

Escapement mechanism: escape wheel, anchor

Regulating mechanism: balance, hairspring, impulse jewel

First of all, the mainspring, which is the power source, is housed inside the barrel (wheel). This is the part that corresponds to the engine.

It is literally a "power mechanism."

When this mainspring is wound by hand using the crown in a manual winding watch, or by a rotor (also called a rotating weight) that is moved by the movement of the arm in an automatic winding watch, the force of the mainspring unwinding causes the barrel to start rotating. The force is transmitted to each gear through the pinion.

This is the "train wheel mechanism."

However, if the main spring were to unwind completely due to its own momentum, the gears would continue to rotate at high speeds without any control.

For example, the rotation speed of the second hand is adjusted with extreme precision so that it rotates once per minute, but if it is not adjusted, the second hand will rotate two or three times per minute.

This will not keep accurate time.

This is where the escape wheel and anchor of the escapement mechanism come into play, and the balance wheel, hairspring, and impulse jewel of the regulating mechanism come into play.

The rotational motion that passes through the gear train mechanism reaches the escape wheel.

The rotational motion of the escape wheel moves the pallet, which converts the rotational motion into reciprocating rotational motion and transmits it to the balance.

The escapement mechanism has three main roles: 1) to provide energy to the balance wheel, and 2) to convert the rotary motion of the gear train mechanism into the reciprocating rotary motion of the balance wheel.

3. It transmits regular motion using the "isochronism of the pendulum" provided by the balance to the "wheel train mechanism." Without this "escapement mechanism," the mainspring would completely unwind, so it is a very important mechanism.

The movement transmitted from the escapement is literally "regulated" by the balance wheel, which is the "regulating mechanism."

This is the very heart of the watch, and it is here that the watch maintains its precision.

This is done by the balance wheel. The hairspring attached to the balance wheel has the same isochronism as a pendulum.

When the balance wheel rotates to the right from the anchor, it tries to return to its original position by the force of the hairspring, causing it to rotate to the left.

It is then pulled by the hairspring again to return to its original position. Because this movement is isochronous, the movement of the balance is then transmitted in the opposite direction, through the anchor of the "escapement mechanism" to the escape wheel, and then to the "wheel train mechanism".

This is how mechanical watches maintain their accuracy.

This mechanism, which utilizes principles such as a pendulum, is designed to the nearest thousandth of a millimeter and undergoes detailed adjustments by artisans before the body is filled with time and given life.

This delicacy is what makes mechanical watches so appealing, something that quartz watches lack.

About quartz watches

The greatest feature of a quartz watch is its accuracy.

Quartz originally means quartz. Transparent crystals of quartz are called rock crystals.

Quartz watches use the reciprocating motion of a crystal to generate electricity, which is then passed through an electronic circuit to the artificial crystal.

Synthetic quartz crystal vibrates 32,768 times per second.

If the gears are designed to rotate once every 60 seconds in accordance with this vibration, the watch will continue to move regularly. Because the power source is built into the watch as a battery, there is no need to wind the mainspring like with mechanical watches, and the watch will continue to run until the battery runs out even if it is left unattended.

The quartz watch was invented by Seiko in Japan in 1969.

This invention became known as the "quartz shock" and was quickly copied by manufacturers around the world.

For a while after the quartz shock, Omega's De Ville watches, for example, were all sold with quartz movements.

Quartz watches are suitable for mass production and do not require skilled craftsmanship.

Many of them are inexpensive too.

It is hassle-free for the user and requires less care than a mechanical watch.

However, quartz watches require battery replacement every 2 to 3 years.

Also, if the electronic circuit is broken, in most cases the manufacturer will no longer have the original parts and will be unable to repair it.

Therefore, the biggest drawback of quartz watches is that they are very difficult to use for 10 or 20 years. In fact, most antique quartz watches are junk.


I have explained the mechanisms of these two clocks above. Each clock has its own merits.

If you value precision above all else, a quartz watch such as a G-Shock would be fine, but if you want to keep the price down, a quartz watch from the supermarket would be fine.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a partner to walk through life with, you should choose a mechanical watch.

I hope this helps you in choosing your partner.