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Quartz vs. Automatic Watches: What’s the Difference & Which Watch Should I Buy?

Quartz vs. Automatic Watches: What’s the Difference & Which Watch Should I Buy?

Quartz vs. Automatic Watches: What’s the Difference & Which Watch Should I Buy?

Watch enthusiasts break down watches into two categories: quartz watches and automatic watches. What’s the underlying difference, and is one better than the other? Let’s take a deep dive and see what makes each watch tick.

Nailing Down the Basics

Let’s start at the very beginning. Quartz and automatic are terms that refer to the type of watch movement, which is to say the type of “engine” powering the watch. Just like a car has an engine under the hood making the car run, watches have “engines” called movements.

The Nitty Gritty: An Introduction to Quartz Watches

Quartz watches are pretty standard, but don’t let that run-of-the-mill characterization turn you off. Throughout time, quartz continues to prove itself as the most reliable and most accurate way to tell time. Quartz watches are more accurate than even the most expensive, most expertly-tuned mechanical (read: hand-wound) timepiece. Instead of an elaborate network of gears like a mechanical watch, a quartz watch is powered by a small quartz crystal, a battery, and some tiny motors.

This is how they work: battery-powered, quartz watches have electricity that runs through a tiny crystal of actual quartz. This creates an almost perfect frequency of 32,768 times per second. Those consistent vibrations are what keep the time. 

Thanks in part to advances in technology (and easy servicing, since quartz watches require only a battery change every couple of years), quartz watches don’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

Quartz watches are a traditional go-to watch. In fact, even hybrid smartwatches, watches that look like a traditional watch but function like a smartwatch, use the-most-reliable-and-the-most-accurate quartz as a base for its analog timekeeping. If you’re into the idea of a battery-powered watch with a High Precision Japanese Quartz Movement, check out our:


The Nitty Gritty: An Introduction to Automatic Watches

Now let’s talk automatic.

Automatic watches are an impressive feat of engineering. Generally, they’re more expensive, less accurate, and require slightly more maintenance, but there’s deep history and heritage wrapped up in their existence. Since there’s no battery in an automatic wrist watch (they keep ticking based on an internal ratchet system), care and upkeep usually requires servicing every 3-5 years.

Because of this they’re generally considered more of a luxury item than they’re quartz counterparts, as the intricacy involved in maintain a mechanical item accurate for precision time is understandably going to be more expensive. But when you get to see all of the cogs moving around inside and they look this damn good, who cares eh? 

If you’re more into the idea of a Self-Winding Automatic Mechanical watch, check out our: 

Final Thoughts

All in all, the choice about which watch to buy comes down to what you’re looking for. While a quartz watch may run 20 seconds off per month, an automatic watch may be off by a few minutes. It’s not a huge difference, but how important is reliability to you versus, say, something like style?

All of our Ralph Christian watches are intelligently designed and meant to make a statement. They’re thoroughly stress-tested and guaranteed to leave an impression. Whether you want a watch for accuracy or you’re wearing it for style, let your watch be whatever it wants to be. Let it be an extension of you.

Any questions? Reach out. We’re always here.

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