See How We Prioritise Security

We understand that purchasing a watch is an investment, and we want to ensure that you feel confident and secure throughout the process.

Tudor Watches
Omega Watches
IWC Watches
Buyer Protection

All our vintage watches come with full buyer protection. Our Escrow payment method and authenticity guarantee means your purchase is in safe hands. Find out more

About Us

About Our Company


For General Inquiries

Buyer Protection

View our sales process


UK and International Rates

Returns & Exchanges
Your Account

Create or login to your account to enjoy discounts and rewards.

My Wishlist

Watch Movements: A Comprehensive Guide

Written by Liam Davis

April 10, 2024

a man holding a pocket watch in his hand

Watches are more than just time-telling devices; they are marvels of engineering, craftsmanship, and artistry. Central to their function and allure is the watch movement, often referred to as the “calibre” or “heart” of the watch. This intricate mechanism keeps track of time, and understanding its types and workings can significantly enhance one’s appreciation for these sophisticated devices.

What is a Movement?

A movement in a watch is the internal mechanism that drives the watch’s hands around the face and powers its complications, such as the calendar, chronograph, or moon phase display. Essentially, it’s the engine of the watch, made up of numerous small parts working in harmony to measure the passage of time. The quality, complexity, and type of movement determine not just the functionality of the watch but also influence its value and prestige.

Movement Types

Watch movements can be broadly classified into three types: manual, automatic, and quartz. Each type has its unique characteristics, advantages, and mechanisms of operation, catering to different preferences and lifestyles.

Manual Movement

A manual movement, also known as a hand-wound movement, requires the wearer to wind the watch periodically by turning the crown. This traditional type of movement is appreciated for its craftsmanship and the tactile connection it offers between the watch and its owner.

How a Manual Watch Movement Works

In a manual watch, winding the crown tightens the mainspring, storing energy. This energy is gradually released through the gear train to the escapement, which distributes the energy in controlled, equal parts to the oscillating balance wheel. The to-and-fro motion of the balance wheel keeps the gear train moving, driving the hands of the watch at a regulated pace.

mechanical movement

Automatic Movement

An automatic, or self-winding, movement harnesses the natural motion of the wearer’s wrist to wind itself. Containing a rotor that spins with wrist movement, it eliminates the need for manual winding while still offering the mechanical allure and intricate craftsmanship of manual movements.

How an Automatic Movement Works

The central feature of an automatic watch movement is the rotor, a semi-circular piece that pivots on its axis due to the wearer’s motions. As the rotor spins, it winds the mainspring, storing energy in the same manner as manual winding. The rest of the mechanism functions similarly to a manual movement, with the stored energy driving the watch’s functions.

Are There Different Types of Automatic Movements?

Yes, automatic watch movements can vary based on their rotor design, energy efficiency, and the intricacies of their complications. Some are designed to be more efficient in winding, while others focus on reducing wear or increasing the accuracy of timekeeping.

What is a Power Reserve?

The power reserve of a watch indicates how long it will continue to function after being fully wound without requiring additional winding or movement. Manual and automatic watches alike have power reserves, which can range from 24 hours to several days or even weeks, depending on the movement’s design and efficiency.

Quartz Movement

Quartz movements use a battery as its power source and a quartz crystal to keep time. This type of movement is highly accurate, low maintenance, and more affordable than most mechanical movements, making it a popular choice for casual and entry-level watches.

How a Quartz Movement Works

In a quartz watch, the battery sends an electric current through a small quartz crystal, causing it to oscillate at a precise frequency. This oscillation is measured by the circuit and converted into a single pulse every second, driving the motor and the watch hands at a consistent pace, ensuring remarkable accuracy.

quartz watches

Choosing the Right Watch for You

Selecting the right watch involves considering your lifestyle, preferences, and what you value most in a timepiece. If you admire traditional craftsmanship and the feel of winding your watch, a manual or automatic movement might be for you. Those looking for accuracy and convenience may lean towards quartz watch movements. Consider your daily activities, the style of watch you prefer, and whether you’re drawn to the technical mastery of mechanical watch movements or the practicality and precision of quartz.

In the end, the choice of a watch movement is deeply personal. Each type offers its unique charm and advantages. Understanding these mechanisms enhances not only our appreciation of watches but also helps us make informed decisions when adding to our collection or selecting a meaningful gift. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or a newcomer to the world of horology, the right movement can turn a simple timepiece into a cherished heirloom, a statement of personal style, and a companion through the moments of your life.

Find your dream vintage watch

Authentic Watch Co. offers a free 12-month warranty with all our fully serviced watches. We guarantee authenticity with no hassle returns.

About the Author

Liam Davis

Liam, the founder of Authentic Watch Co, is an experienced expert in the vintage watch industry with a deep passion for horology. With years of knowledge and dedication, Liam has become a trusted authority, committed to providing exceptional timepieces and unparalleled service to customers worldwide.

Follow Us

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop