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How to differenciate between an automatic watch and a quartz.

March 27, 2018 3 min read


Automatic or Quartz?

Hello everyone!

Today we want to deeply explore and explain the differences between automatic watchesand quartz watches.

When purchasing a timepiece, it is important to know the features of each movement, as it determines the characteristics of the watch. Therefore, we will introduce in this blog’s post a brief description of each movement in order to identify its advantages and disadvantages.


Quartz watches comprise aproximately 90% of all watches market. They consist of a quartz crystal that vibrates around 33 times each second when activated by a button cell battery. Those vibrations will turned into electric impulses that generate the hands movement.

  • More precise than automatic watches

  • Ain’t necessary to adjust the watch each time the reserve runs out of power, as it is in automatic watches.

  • They are usually cheaper than automatic watches

  • Lighter and thinner than automatic watches due to its simpler mechanism. This increases design possibilities.

  • They need a cell, which battery will drain at some point. They usually last, at least, one year.

  • Repairing is more complicated once the replacements aren’t produced anymore.

  • If it is not going to be worn, it is necessary to take out the battery, as this can leak and damage the watch.

  • Some checking and change of junctions might be needed periodically.

  • Because of the cell, they pollute more. They must be recycled in a proper household waste recycling centre


Among mechanical watches, we can differenciate between manual watches and automatic watches.

The main property of manual watches is that they need to be wound frequently (usually every 40 hours) by spinning the crown around. As an example, the Meistersinger N2 watch incorporates a 42 hours power reserve if the winding is complete.

On the other hand, automatic watches’ mainspring is wound up automatically. Their complex mechanism will turn wrist motion into energy. A frequent question is how an automatic watch can self-wind.

This system is based on an oscillating weight and a rotor that will spin around an axis powered up by wrist movements. Although theory is easy to understand, micromechanic engineer and master artisan work is needed to manufacture complex calibers that make possible the transformation and transmission of energy to turn it into impulses that may power up the hands accurately. Sometimes they consist of more than 300 parts. Each brand develops its own calibers in a competition of achieving the greatest accuracy.

Some examples of the finest mechanisms can be found in Montblanc Nicolas Rieussec, the caliber of which comprises 319 parts and 40 rubies, or The Masterpiece Collection by Maurice Lacroix, which incorporates its own manufacturating machinery and skeleton models such as the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Skeleton Chronograph.

  • Last a lifetime. Even if the watch were no longer produced and no replacements were found, a watch expert can always replace the pieces damaged as each part is hand-assembled.

  • Enviromentally friendly as ain’t need of cells nor batteries.

  • The can be stored for years as they will never be spoiled because of sulphated cells.

  • There is no need of winding up manually as they are self-wound.

  • They need periodical maintenance as some adjustments will be needed over the years.

  • Not as precise as quartz watches. Craftmanship and mechanical work isn’t as accurate as a microchip. However, automatic watches are usually tested in order to guarantee their quality and reliability.

  • They weight more than a quartz watch due to the amount of pieces they carry inside. This is something really important when choosing the bracelet in order to compensate the watch’s weight.. If the strap is also heavy, that will substantially increase the weight and it might be too much for some.

  • Due to the complexity of the procedure, the amount of pieces and the quality of the materials used, they are more expensive.

In fact, there is no certain answer to the question as to which one is better. It all depends on the customer’s expectations, needs and style. If you love watches, are interested in the complexity of its mechanism and value artisan work, then you will completely appreciate the automatic movement. On the other hand, if you prefer a lighter and simpler watch, your choice will probably be a quartz watch.

All the pieces shown are currently in stock at Iguana Sell.

If you have any doubt or would like more information about our quartz and automatic watches, do not hesitate to contact us by email, phone (+34) 91 441 50 41 or visit our boutique at Núñez de Balboa 90, Madrid.

Have a nice day!


Iguana Sell

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