An Essential Guide to Wristwatch Types and Movements

Before you buy a wristwatch, movement is one of the first things you consider. Movement includes not only the movement of the hands but also how the internal mechanisms work. The mechanism of a watch is essential to how it works and how it keeps track of time.

Think of it as the heart of your watch. The movements are divided into three types: mechanical, automatic, and quartz. They also have their differences, strengths, and weaknesses. So, if you’re still a beginner in the wristwatch world, here are the type of wristwatch movements. 

  1. Automatic Watches 

Automatic watches have grown increasingly popular over the past few years. Many people want to wear an elegant and stylish timepiece without having to wind it manually every day. Automatic movements power popular models of wristwatches like the Omega Seamaster from Omega. Many people choose automatic watches because they want to eliminate the tedious task of manually winding their watch and because they like the elegant look of an automatic watch over a quartz watch or mechanical watch. 

However, many different types of wristwatch movements go into making an automatic or self-winder watch. Understanding just what each type is and how it works can be critical in helping you choose the right kind of watch for yourself. 

Automatic watches are almost like mechanical watches: they use real springs and use complex gears to move the watch’s hands, but they do not require the user to wind the watch to keep it running. Hence the name automatic movement. They are also called self-winding watches. The automatic watch has a sliding clutch device to prevent the watch from being wound too much when being worn. If you are not wearing an automatic watch, you need to place it on a watch winder.; It is a small device that can move the watch in a circular motion during storage to keep it wound. 

This is especially important if your watch has functions such as a calendar or date display. For example, suppose your automatic watch has a calendar, but you decide not to wear it for a few days. If you do not store it on the winder, the battery will run out, and the display will get stuck at the time and date when the watch stops working. So when you decide to put your watch back on, you must reset both.

  1. Mechanical Watches 

This is the movement used in the first wristwatches and was first developed by the Swiss and continued to be used until the introduction of the battery-operated watch. They are an embodiment of classical wristwatch craftsmanship, which is why the original mechanical watch movements are expensive. 

While all mechanical watches were created to display the time and display it accurately at the most precise moment, there are also cons to this type of movement.  A mechanical watch movement is powered by the mainspring (a manually wound coiled metal wire). Once the mainspring is wound, it will loosen slowly and evenly, allowing the second hand to move smoothly and broadly around the watch surface. 

Most mainsprings are between 9 and 13 inches in length. Therefore, the longer the mainspring, the longer the power reserve of the mechanical watch, and the longer the time that can be transmitted between two turns. 

Not all mechanical movements are the same. The watch’s attention to detail and craftsmanship will determine its smoothness and precision. For many fans, mechanical movement watches represent the essence of watches because of their traditional pedigree and complicated work and engineering. For these enthusiasts, owning a mechanical watch is for telling the time and a way to express their appreciation of history, refinement, and craftsmanship.

  1. Quartz Watches 

Most wristwatches you would find for less than $50 might likely be quartz wristwatches. There is a reason for this. Quartz watches are very accurate and affordable. The quartz movement does not run on a spiral mainspring but is powered by a small battery. The battery is powered by a small quartz crystal, making the crystal vibrate 32,768 times per second.

The vibration is measured by the circuit, which converts the vibration into pulses, thereby moving the watch’s second hand. As a result, it is not as smooth as a mechanical watch or an automatic watch. However, because quartz movements rely on electricity and fewer moving parts, they are more accurate than mechanical or automatic watches and can withstand more significant shocks. 

It is for this reason that most sports and field watches use quartz movements. Quartz movements are also very cheap. But, of course, if you want something more distinctive, you will have to spend more money.


Apart from movement, there are also extra features in the watch that are called complications. In addition to the calendar, sophisticated features such as an alarm clock, a power reserve indicator, and a repeater (which displays the hours and minutes on the watch at the touch of a button). There’s also the chronograph which is an independent and independent time system that acts as a stopwatch.