Definition of different watches: Automatic watch, quartz watch & Co.

Klaus Botta, 27.02.2021

Furthermore: mechanical watch, radio controlled watch, solar watch, digital watch, analog watch & atomic watch

In general, one can distinguish between mechanical watches and electric watches. In principle, all watches have three essential functional units: An energy storage, a timepiece and a time display.

1. The energy storage unit

In a watch, the energy storage system provides the energy needed to operate the watch.

In a mechanical watch, the energy storage device is also "mechanically" structured. It stores "potential energy" in the form of "position energy" (e.g. watch weights in a grandfather clock) or "tension energy" (e.g. in the form of a spiral spring in a wristwatch or pocket watch).

The energy storage in an electric watch is logically electrically structured
- in the form of a battery, accumulator or capacitor.

2. The timepiece

The chronometer counts certain pre-defined time units of the same type and controls the time display at regular intervals of these time units.

Timepiece of a mechanical watch

With a mechanical watch, the timepiece can be a pendulum (grandfather clock) or a balance (wristwatch, pocket watch). In time counting, the physically determined uniformity of movement is used to "count" the time units reliably and accurately. If, for example, the pendulum needs one second to swing from the right turning point to the left, this means that 60 seconds have passed after 60 half-swings. If the balance of a wristwatch changes its direction of rotation five times in one second, it means that after 300 changes of direction, 60 seconds have also passed.

At the inflection point of each half-oscillation, a small mechanism, the so-called "escapement", allows a special gear wheel to rotate a small step further before a small pawl stops the movement again. This engagement of the pawls can be heard as a soft click. The "ticking of the clock" - which is typical for mechanical watches. And not, as is often assumed, from the second hand itself.

The escapement practically regulates the advance of the time display in a particular beat. This beat is set by the balance or pendulum. The energy required to keep time and to move the display is supplied by the energy storage device.

Timepiece for a quartz watch

In a quartz watch, mechanical vibrations are also counted, but these are the much faster vibrations of a tiny quartz crystal. This crystal is electrically excited to vibrate according to the piezo effect. After exactly 2,359,296 oscillations, a small pulse is transmitted to the display. The display jumps forward by one second. Since the quartz crystal oscillates much more stably and is much less influenced by ambient conditions, this type of time measurement is much more accurate than the classic purely mechanical versions.

Other electrically operated watches use the counting of the frequency of the supply voltage for time measurement. Since these watches are usually driven by a synchronous motor, the second hand can also move continuously. The typical jumping of the hand is omitted with this version. These clocks are often additionally corrected by a reference signal. Example: Station clocks.

3. the time display

When displaying the time, a distinction is made in principle between the analog and the digital display.

Analog time display for watches

The analog display typically shows the time by means of hands (or discs) on a fixed inscribed scale. Comparable to an analog pointer instrument, such as the speedometer of a car. This display could also be called "graphically analog".

Digital time display for watches

With digital display, the time measurement value is transmitted to a segment or dot matrix display. This display shows the time electronically supported in the form of numbers. This form of display could also be described as "numerically digital".

There are also mixed forms, where a numerical time is displayed with mechanically folding plates, or - the other way round - there are also graphic displays, which electronically simulate a mechanical display.

Analog watches
can be operated both mechanically and electrically. The type of display is decisive for this classification. Digital watches are almost exclusively electrically operated.

Differences of automatic watch, quartz watch & other watches

A mechanical watch is a timepiece in which energy storage, timekeeping and display are mechanical (springs, gears, hands, dial). Good mechanical watches, which are also well adjusted, manage to keep the rate deviations between -10 and +20 seconds per day.

An automatic watch is a special form of a mechanical watch. It uses a tiny portion of the wearer's kinetic energy to "automatically" re-tension the spring as the arm moves. Otherwise, it behaves like a hand-wound watch and has a comparable rate deviation.

In a hand-wound watch, the spring is retightened by regularly winding (turning the watch crown). It represents the original form of the mechanical wristwatch.

The power reserve is the time that a mechanical watch runs without stopping when the watch spring is fully wound. The power reserve of a mechanical watch should be well over 24 hours, so that winding it once a day is sufficient to ensure a permanently uninterrupted movement.

The quartz watch is a special form of the electric watch, which has replaced almost all other forms of electric watches due to its accuracy, robustness and reliability. At least in the mobile sector. In the case of stationary watches, there are still those that are supplied by mains power and are based on the mains frequency (see above). Good quartz watches have a deviation of less than one second per day.

An atomic clock is a complex technical device that uses the oscillation behavior of individual atoms to measure time. It currently represents the most accurate version of all watches. Its deviation is unimaginably small (standard deviation 10 to the power of -17) and thus only of technical importance. The determined time is transmitted by radio and can be displayed by radio-controlled watches. About 260 linked atomic clocks worldwide represent the reference for worldwide time measurement.

A radio-controlled watch is also an electric watch, which normally runs as a quartz or synchronous watch, but from time to time receives a radio signal which corrects the time display again precisely.

In a solar watch, the electrical energy storage (usually a high-power capacitor) is recharged by incident light. In this respect, the solar watch can also be seen as the "automatic watch among the electric watches".

Das beste aus beiden Welten

Most manufacturers have committed themselves to one of the two drive concepts. Mechanical or electrical. BOTTA offers both movement designs, because both concepts have their typical advantages.

  • Mechanical watches in the form of analog automatic watches. Here the Swiss Made ETA movement 2824-2 is used. This is one of the most robust and reliable mechanical movements available. The right concept for friends of a classic watch engine.

  • Electric watches in the form of high-quality quartz watches. Especially in the field of quartz watches there are considerable differences in quality and price. BOTTA uses exclusively Swiss Made quartz movements from the Ronda brand. These too are characterized by high precision, reliability and superior technology. Quartz watches are the first choice for people looking for easy-care, uncomplicated technology.

The customer can therefore choose the movement that suits him or her, regardless of the preferred design concept.

1 comment

  • Jan Joore

    Haben sie auch Automatic Quartz uhren? So wie Seiko kinetic. In dieser fall braucht man die Akku erst nach 15 jahren zu wechseln.

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