Watch movements

Movement means the watch's working mechanism. For many years, watch enthusiasts have been debating the most precise movement: mechanical, quartz or automatic. This part of our guide will help you understand the different watch movements so that you can decide which one is right for you.

What to consider with watch movements

Prior to choosing your movement you may want to consider aspects such as winding or changing the battery, time accuracy and general maintenance.

Mechanical and automatic watch movements

Some of the first movements were made of steel, featuring a one hour hand and had to be wound twice a day. The first self winding movement was invented for pocket watches in 1770 by Swiss horologist Abraham Louis Perrelet. Once the spring power mechanism was used to power the timepiece, the wrist watch evolved. The mechanism was designed to wind as the wearer moved, which is still the case today.

Mechanical movements feature moving parts that wind up manually or automatically. The main component of a mechanical movement is the mainspring, a spring that gradually unwinds and transmits energy. A mechanical watch will keep accurate time despite requiring winding up if it's manual. Conventionally the contact of winding up a watch is something that has been previously enjoyed by watch wearers. There is something traditional and pleasurable about a wind up watch.

Watch brands like Longines, Omega, Tag Heuer, Breitling and Cartier all have automatic watches in their collections, which do not need to be wound manually. Inside an automatic watch sits a small weighted rotor that has to oscillate in order to wind the mainspring. Wearing the watch causes motion from the wearer's arm that is then translated into energy to power a series of gears winding the mainspring. Mechanical watches require servicing once every 3 to 5 years to maintain reliability. Service details will often be provided in the information booklet with the timepiece. At Ernest Jones we offer our Atelier service in store, including prestige watch servicing and repair. See our full list of Atelier services in our watch services section.

Quartz and electronic watch movements

Quartz is a commonly used timekeeping technology. Electronic movements often incorporate no moving parts and are battery driven. A quartz watch is powered by an electronic oscillator synchronized by quartz crystal. The electric current causes the quartz inside to pulsate with a precise frequency. The frequency is broken down through an integrated circuit where power is released through a small stepping motor setting the watch hands in motion.

Quartz watches will need battery replacements from time to time. Service details will often be provided in the information booklet with the timepiece. At Ernest Jones we offer our Atelier service in store, including prestige watch servicing and repair. See our full list of Atelier services in our watch services section. Digital watches also belong to the quartz movement family and sometimes feature LCD, liquid crystal displays. The term ana-digi refers to analogue and digital time dials that can be seen on various quartz watches; these are used for simultaneous display of different information. Read more about the watch features in our features and functions section.

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Branded watch movements

At Ernest Jones we offer internationally recognised brands, famous for their signature movement technology.

Breitling technology

Swiss brand Breitling manufacture luxury watches to an exceptional standard. Developed in Breitling workshops, the family business is one of the few companies to make its own mechanical chronograph movement. Breitling has played a key role in the technical development of this complication and revolutionising traditional movement assembly by developing an industrial production-chain system. Additionally, all Breitling's electronic models are equipped with SuperQuartz™ movements that are impressively ten times more accurate than the standard quartz equivalents.

Omega technology

The Omega Co-Axial escapement re-defined the traditional mechanical movement, which had previously remained unchanged for some 250 years. The Omega Co-Axial escapement delivers reduced sliding friction by transmitting energy using lateral impulses, meaning greater mechanical efficiency and outstanding chronometric performance over time.

Citizen Eco-Drive technology

Citizen timepieces are designed with award winning Eco-Drive technology infused with the highest quality materials. The Eco-Drive technology uses the power of light and converts it into energy, which is stored permanently in a rechargeable lithium-ion cell; hence it doesn't warrant a battery.

Light is absorbed through the dial and beneath the dial is a solar cell absorbing light, converting into energy. The Eco – Drive watch uses the exposure from both natural and artificial light to maintain a constant level of energy.

Seiko Kinetic technology

SEIKO has developed kinetic technology that generates electricity from movement caused by the wearer's arm. The kinetic system is based on a rotor spinning at high speed. Each Seiko timepiece has a small capacitor storing an electrical current, which is released when the watch needs to be powered. The current is stored in an ESU electrical storage unit. This stores electricity that powers the watch when it's not on the wrist. Kinetic watches operate for six months if not worn at all.

SEIKO has introduced Kinetic Auto Relay watches that are devised to tell the precise time when they are not worn for up to four years. These watches come with a power save purpose that will instantly stop the hand movement approximately 72 hours after the watch has been taken off to conserve energy. The Kinetic Auto Relay watch also has a relay function that is activated by a slight swing motion and automatically returns the watch to present time, provided it's used within four years.

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