Automatic and quartz watch: what are the differences?

What you need to know first of all is that there are two main families of watches: electronic watches and mechanical watches. The difference is in the energy used to make them work .

So, rather mechanical watch or quartz watch? A fan of manual winding or automatic winding?

Mechanical watches are generally the most appreciated by lovers of fine watchmaking and passionate collectors. Quartz watches are those that are generally found almost everywhere. Maison Scarlett has chosen some information to help you see things more clearly!

Summary :

In the family of mechanical watches

There are automatics and manuals! Mechanical watches seduce with their complexity and beauty. Very popular with enthusiasts, they have the particularity of not requiring any source of energy to operate .

This watch is powered by what is called a winding stem, which has two functions. First of all, this rod makes it possible to arm a spring, which, by pulling on the drum of the barrel, will return to its initial shape and allow the oscillation of the balance which will activate the entire mechanism.

It’s quite an art, isn’t it?

And that’s what appeals to watch collectors. The other function is to pull the stem to set the watch to the correct time. In the world of mechanical watches, we can distinguish between manually wound watches and those whose winding is automatic. Don't panic, we'll explain!

Have you ever seen your grandfather reset a clock with the turn of a key ? (Okay, it probably depends on your age, for the youngest among you, Youtube will be your friend.)

Well, manual winding is a bit like that. You have to turn the crown regularly to make the watch work. That's what we call winding a watch.

In an automatic watch, you don't need to pull out the crown to wind your watch and set it to time. Thanks to the movements of the wearer's wrist and a half-disc that rotates on an axis (we'll spare you the details), your watch winds automatically. If you don't wear it every day, however, you may need a watch winder, so that it can “rock” your watch for you.

So, in terms of benefits, what does that mean?

The display is great. The movement of the hands is fluid and linear. Much more than on quartz watches where the second hand, as its name suggests, tends to run in small jumps. The time display is therefore visually more attractive and aesthetic on an automatic watch.

And what's more, it's more eco-friendly ! Yes, this type of watch contains no battery, no battery, nothing at all. So saying hello to your watchmaker every two years is over. We say yes to ecological and sustainable watches.

The watch is truly a fascinating timepiece!

We therefore appreciate its durability. Because yes, we never tell you enough, but jewelry and watchmaking are closely linked, and therefore, just like your precious diamond and sapphire jewelry or your signet rings and other engagement rings, watches are 'maintained and we take care of it! (Beware of you who have gotten into the habit of forgetting it on the edge of a piece of furniture, much too close to the sink to be safe).

A small check-up every five years to check that everything is working correctly, and it's a watch that will follow you for the rest of your life. The foot, right? In addition, a small mechanical bug can easily be corrected, which is not the case with a quartz watch which will undoubtedly require replacement. Made up of a chain of cogs that works thanks to the kinetic energy created by the movements of the wrist, the watch becomes a real living object, ready to follow your rhythm and your Dantesque adventures.

Incredible right?

What if we talked about the disadvantages of the mechanical watch now?

Let it be said, she has a few . Already, it is more sensitive to shock and friction than a quartz watch. So we are taking extra precautions and care.

Then, the small overhaul to be done every five years to guarantee its lifespan is not cheap. For a luxury mechanical watch, you have to count 15% of the price of the watch. With branded watches this can therefore become quite expensive.

In addition, it is not the most precise. In fact, there is a small difference of plus or minus four minutes ahead or behind mechanical watches compared to quartz watches.

And finally, the number one disadvantage but which for some of us may not be one, is its price. Whether automatic or manual, mechanical watches are not cheap. It is the beauty of the complexity of the movement mechanism that makes them much more expensive, but more interesting than quartz watches.

And quartz watches in all that

Quartz watches only appeared quite late, in 1969, but that does not prevent them from being the most widespread today. Their operation is simple and that is where the price difference lies .

Here, a thin strip of quartz oscillates thanks to the electrical impulse of a battery. Less eco-friendly but more practical. This simple impulse allows the hands to start moving and therefore turn regularly. The phenomenon of piezoelectricity allows quartz crystals to deform or exert pressure when subjected to an electric current. The battery in the quartz watch then makes the crystals vibrate with extreme precision.

More than 32,000 movements per second are caused!

The advantages of a quartz watch

It will be understood that compared to its mechanical cousin, the quartz watch is more precise. She is even unbeatable! This is what created a “tidal wave” when they appeared!

They are also significantly more resistant and less fragile. Made up of fewer parts, quartz lamellae are more resistant to vibrations and shocks. Finally, in addition to being less expensive and therefore more accessible, they are also thinner, which could also delight these ladies with small wrists (you see, we are always thinking of you).

And the downsides of all this?

I'm coming there, I'm coming there. Who says battery, says energy consumption. We consider that after two years on average you will have to go to your watchmaker or jeweler to have the battery changed (woe betide anyone who tries to do it themselves).

We can also think that they will probably not accompany you all your life, or that you will hardly be able to carry them through the generations. Like old classic cars, mechanical watches are infinitely repairable, while quartz watches are more like the electronic cars of our time. They become obsolete more quickly and therefore last less.

Quartz watches or automatic watches, how to choose?

If we had to summarize briefly, we must understand that both categories have advantages and disadvantages. As with jewelry, there are generally passionate collectors who will inevitably turn to the mechanical watch recognized for the nobility of its mechanics, the beauty of the complexity it contains and its impressive durability.

A true masterpiece, a legacy of the watchmaker's tradition and know-how. Fans who are a little less informed or simply less demanding and more modern will generally choose the quartz watch. Automatic, fine and aesthetic, extreme precision and more accessible, don't think that this one doesn't have any advantages, it's full of them!

How to make the right choice ?

Suffice it to say that there is none. At this point you will have to trust your tastes. The difference may be in the shape of a dial, a power reserve or some unexpected features such as water resistance. You have to think about it, a waterproof watch can, for example, offer many advantages for those who might use it.

Also, for women we will probably choose pink gold, white gold or maybe even fancy, why not? While for men we will probably opt for silver steel, a brown leather bracelet or yellow gold. The possibilities are immense and you even have the right to want to create a real collection of watches.

There are only limits that we impose on ourselves, right? But then, will you be part of the mechanical team or do you rather want to follow the quartz movement?

And if your collection not only includes beautiful timepieces but you also have rings, necklaces and bracelets, consider protecting them in a jewelry box : discover our selection!