Quartz watches

Quartz watches have revolutionised the world of watchmaking since their emergence in the 20th century. Their precision, durability and accessibility have made them a popular choice for both watch lovers and the general public. Even luxury watch brands such as Cartier, Tag Heuer, Longines and Tissot have a wide range of quartz watch models.

In this article, we will look at how quartz watches work, the advantages and history of quartz watches, as well as how they compare to other types of watches.

quarz watch

What are quartz watches?

Before we begin, let’s understand what a quartz watch is. It is a type of watch that uses a quartz crystal as an oscillating element to measure time with great accuracy. Unlike mechanical watches that rely on a set of gears and a mainspring, quartz watches use the piezoelectric property of quartz to maintain a constant oscillation frequency.

Origin and impact of quartz watches on the watchmaking industry

Prior to the 1970s, watches relied on automatic and manual mechanical movements, characterised by complex gears and the need for human intervention. These watches required regular winding; otherwise, they stopped running. The invention of quartz watches revolutionised this dynamic.

The history of quartz watches began in the late 1960s. The first commercially available quartz watch was launched on 25 December 1969 in Tokyo, with a design featuring a golden case, symbolising luxury and technological advancement.

Unlike mechanical watches, quartz watches were powered by a small quartz crystal that vibrated at a precise frequency of 32,768 times per second when an electric current was applied. This technological advance eliminated the need to wind the watch and ensured much greater accuracy.

During the 1970s and 1980s, quartz watches became more affordable. The miniaturisation of circuitry and the reduction of production costs allowed the mass production of these watches, making it possible for more people to own an accurate watch.

This quartz revolution, also known as the “Quartz Crisis”, radically transformed the watch industry. Swiss manufacturers, who had dominated the market with their high-quality mechanical watches, were faced with stiff competition. Quartz watches were cheaper to produce and also more accurate, which led to a transformation of the global market.

The most significant impact was seen with the popularity of quartz-powered digital watches. These watches, completely electronic and with no moving parts, offered an even more innovative experience than analogue quartz watches, which retained traditional hands. The simplicity and efficiency of quartz not only democratised access to watches, but also redefined the standards of the watch industry, establishing a new era in timekeeping.

It was not until 1983 that mechanical watches began to regain the popularity they had before the commercialisation of quartz watches.

Operation of quartz watches

The operation of quartz watches is based on the piezoelectric property of quartz, which allows it to vibrate at a constant frequency when an electric current is applied. It uses the following components for this purpose:

Components of quartz watches

A quartz watch consists of several key components:

Quartz crystal: This is the main component that oscillates at a constant frequency.

Battery: Provides the electric current necessary to maintain the vibrations of the quartz crystal.

Integrated circuit: Converts quartz vibrations into electrical pulses.

Stepper motor: Transforms electrical impulses into mechanical motion to move the hands of the clock.

Hands and dial: indicate the hours, minutes and seconds.

Quartz watches

Quartz watch mechanism

Quartz watches work in the following way:

  1. The battery sends an electric current to the quartz crystal.
  2. The quartz crystal begins to vibrate at a frequency of 32,768 times per second.
  3. These vibrations are sent to the integrated circuit, which converts them into electrical pulses.
  4. The electrical impulses are transmitted to the stepper motor.
  5. The stepper motor converts these impulses into mechanical movements that move the hands of the clock.

This process ensures that quartz watches are very accurate, generally deviating by only a few seconds per month.

Quartz watches

Comparison with other types of watches

The diversity in watchmaking technology has led to the development of different types of watches, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Let us now identify the differences between quartz watches and the other two most popular types of watches: mechanical watches and automatic watches.

Quartz watches VS mechanical watches

Mechanical watches are operated by a set of gears and a mainspring that must be wound manually for the device to function properly. These watches are highly valued for their craftsmanship and the complexity of their mechanism.

  1. Accuracy: Mechanical watches are generally less accurate than quartz watches. They can drift by several seconds per day, whereas quartz watches only drift by a few seconds per month.
  2. Maintenance: Mechanical watches require regular maintenance, such as winding and periodic adjustments. In contrast, quartz watches are virtually maintenance-free, apart from changing the battery after a few years.
  3. Cost: Mechanical watches are more laborious and expensive to manufacture due to the complexity of their components. Quartz watches, on the other hand, are cheaper to produce, which translates into a lower selling price.

Quartz watches VS automatic watches

Automatic watches are a sub-type of mechanical watches that are automatically wound by the movement of the wearer’s arm. They have some similar characteristics to mechanical watches, but with notable differences:

  1. Automatic winding: Unlike traditional mechanical watches, automatic watches do not require the wearer to wind them manually. However, if they are not worn regularly, they may stop.
  2. Accuracy: Like mechanical watches, automatic watches are not as accurate as quartz watches. They can deviate several seconds per day.
  3. Cost and maintenance: Automatic watches, like mechanical watches, are more expensive and require more maintenance than quartz watches.

Find your quartz watch at Ideal Joyeros

At Ideal Joyeros, you can find a wide range of quartz watches from top brands. Visit our catalogue of luxury watches and discover the variety and quality of our timepieces.




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