Horology and the interest of timepieces are a vast world unto themselves. I wouldn't consider myself to be a watch enthusiast per se. However, I am certainly someone who has developed an appreciation and general interest in the study of measuring time and watch craftsmanship.
As you can imagine, there is a lot that goes into watch-making. The individual gears and gizmos working together to keep the timepiece ticking is, to this day, quite the marvel.
Suppose you are one such person who is a bit lost about the different movement types for modern-day watches. In that case, this post is meant for you, as it will introduce the three types of watch movements you ought to know before getting into the hobby of starting (or even continuing) amassing a personal collection of timepieces.
WHAT IS MOVEMENT?
Movement refers to the network of components which reside in a watch that enables it to tell time. Movement is often thought of as the engine which powers a timepiece.
This probably sounds the most familiar. Quartz movement relies on a small battery within the watch that transmits an electrical current to an installed quartz crystal that vibrates and causes the gears to turn consistently so that the wearer can accurately tell the time.
This method of construction was first pioneered by Seiko back in 1959 and has since prevailed in being the most appealing option for mass-market consumption due to its affordable implementation.
You will find many "fast-fashion" watch brands utilizing some variation of quartz movement for their watches.
Since quartz watches are battery-powered, they must eventually be replaced over time. Luckily this is relatively easy to accommodate (in most cases), however, your mileage may vary depending on which quartz watch you opt for.
Mechanical watches must be physically wound each day. However, some higher-end brands of automatic watches are crafted with enough storage efficiency, enabling them to last up to multiple days without needing to be wound.
Powering a mechanical watch happens by turning the crown (depicted below), which tensions the inner mainspring within the case. This mainspring slowly releases tension and provides power to the numerous network of gears that enable the watch to tell time.
Automatic watches are categorized as mechanical because they fundamentally operate the same. What makes automatic watches different is that they don't require manual crown winding to tension the mainspring. Instead, automatic watches contain a weighted watch rotor (depicted below) that employs the kinetic energy stored by the natural movement of the wearer's wrist to tension the mainspring. This rotor will swing freely within the casing and simultaneously wind the watch automatically.
As you can guess, the accuracy of an automatic watch and its ability to continue ticking requires it to be worn on the wrist or rotated by a separate device to prevent it from dying. If left dormant for a prolonged period, the watch will continue operating again shortly after the rotor begins moving.
This movement type is relatively new as it has only been around since the early 20th century. Most higher-end watch brands will have mechanical and automatic movement functionalities; therefore, they will typically be much more expensive than a quartz watch.