A guide to different types of watch movement

We know a luxury watch is a smart investment opportunity, but understanding the distinct details of various types of movements is going to equip you with the insider knowledge needed to spot a gold star timepiece when you come across one.

30th November 2023

A watch’s movement is crucial to ensuring time keeps ticking along smoothly and can usually be divided into three methods: mechanical, automatic, and quartz.

You can find luxury timepieces within all three of these movement categorisations, but each has its own advantages and disadvantages, so here is Panache’s guide to the different types of timekeeping techniques.

What is a mechanical watch?

We start at the very beginning with the invention of the mechanical watch. Peter Henlein, who created the first watch, is revered as the father of the domestic timepiece. Henlein’s early horological craftsmanship marked only the passing hours and had to be worn like a pendant or fastened to a belt. It wasn’t until 1676 that the minute hand was introduced by English clockmaker, Daniel Quare.

Conspicuously different from the sleek wristwatches of today, early mechanical watches relied on an intricate system of gears, springs, and additional contrivances in order to tick. Energy would be garnered by manually winding the mainspring, which, although a bit of a chore, is now considered a beloved charm of old-fashioned mechanical watches.

Today, getting your hands on an old mechanical watch means owning a treasured piece of history. Mechanical watches might be less efficient and less accurate timekeepers, but the meticulous craftsmanship they represent trumps all for enthusiasts. The typical transparent case backs allow you to see the intricate workings of watch engineering in action; a sight too tantalising for many watch aficionados.

What are automatic watches?

To see the advancements made in timekeeping veracity, we now turn to the automatic watch. An appropriate evolution of the mechanical method, automatic movement saw the elimination of the need for wearers to manually wind the spring at regular intervals, whilst still boasting the same aesthetic appeal shared with earlier mechanical watches.

So, how does an automatic watch work? Conveniently, the energy required to keep the watch’s components ticking is amassed from the motion of the wearer’s arm. This kinetic energy is used to wind the mainspring without the need for intervention.

Naturally, this meeting of beauty, intricate construction, and convenience means that automatic watches often come with a substantial price tag. Still, the continuation of mechanical movements is a widely prized feature of watchmaking, promising impressive longevity and an unwavering market demand for them.

What is a quartz watch?

Quartz watches are highly economical thanks to being made with much fewer parts, reducing the likelihood of things going wrong. They are sometimes overlooked by enthusiasts for lacking flashy craftsmanship, but quartz watches are cost-efficient, low maintenance, and reliably accurate. You can trust your quartz watch with little need to adjust its reading.

How does a quartz watch work? Well, the striking difference to that of mechanical watches is that quartz movements use battery power to send electric currents by way of a quartz crystal. This action causes vibrations at particular frequencies which are then used to track the passing of time.

After centuries of mechanical watches dominating the sphere, the first quartz-powered watch was invented by Seiko in the late 1960s. The initial release of the Quartz Astron 350SQ revolutionised the industry by offering an alternative to traditional functions. Since its launch, quartz movements have exploded in popularity and esteem. Now, modern markets trust quartz watches for their accuracy, ease, and reliability, making this modern innovation a respectable and enduring competitor.

Panache Luxury Watches

Here at Panache, we are a seasoned team of experts specialising in the purchasing, assessing, and selling of luxury watches. We pride ourselves on ensuring a fair and competitive price for all kinds of vintage and contemporary luxury timepieces.

We understand that the most loved watches are often well-worn, so we accept models in a range of conditions. Maybe you’re resolute in exchanging your watch for a generous sum, perhaps you’re just curious about its resale value, or it might be that you merely have any other questions about the second-hand luxury watch market, whatever it may be, contact Panache today for an easy, free, no-obligation consultation.

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Selling your pre-owned watch has never been easier. Simply fill in our online valuation form to receive your free, no-obligation quote today.

Selling your pre-owned watch has never been easier. Simply fill in our online valuation form to receive your free, no-obligation quote today.

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