Debates about what type of movement is better – quartz or mechanical – do not subside for many years, since the start of quartz movement mass production in the middle of the 20th century.
The beginning of using quartz in watchmaking resulted in the so-called «quartz crisis» or «quartz revolution».
Principle of work
Quartz is a chemical compound that is scientifically called silicon dioxide.
The electronic part consists of a watch oscillator, which is stabilized by quartz resonator, and a divider. Oscillator frequency is usually equal to 32,768 Hz that corresponds to the period of oscillation – 2-15 seconds. The source of power transmits an electrical current through a quartz crystal, electrifying it, what creates vibrations, which keep the movement oscillating and drive the motor to move the watch hands.
Structure of electromechanical watches
Electromechanical watches are composed of these components:
- power source (battery, solar cells or any other)
- generator with a quartz resonator
- frequency counter-divider
- stepper electric motor
- cogwheels system which transmits the motor rotation on watch hands
- clutch of hands transfer
- wheel and alarm hand (if there is an alarm)
- Some models of wrist watches have quartz digital display of electronic watches (so-called hybrid watch)
Due to the very different structure of quartz and mechanical watch movements, they cannot be compared; it is possible only to name the main advantages of quartz movement.
- Quartz movements have higher accuracy than mechanical. These watches will ensure the accuracy for the long period (several years) with maximum error of ± 20sec. per month, and ± 10-20sec. per year, while mechanical movements - ± 20-40 sec. per day and ± 20-60 sec. per month.
- Mechanical watches require regular winding of a clockwork spring. Quartz mechanism work is ensured by battery charge - it delivers electrical energy to the electronic unit, which delivers it to the electric stepper motor.
- Quartz mechanisms are the result of machine automatic assembling; all elements are made from different types of plastic that have high indexes of hardness and flexibility, therefore higher impact resistance than steel details of mechanical movements.