Skip to content

How does a Swiss watch work?

In the next 10 min. you will learn and understand, how different types of watch movements work at their core.

Opening the case on the backside of a watch, we find the so-called movement, which makes a watch go. Nowadays, the majority of watch manufacturers either buy the entire movement or certain components from specialized suppliers. This was different in the past, where many brands did their own movements. This is also on of the core reasons, why vintage watches are more exclusive.


What Types of movements exist?

Manual and automatic movements are made up of only mechanical parts like gears and springs. The quartz and auto-quartz movements may have some mechanical components, but they also contain an electrical circuit and need a battery to operate. Because they need more labor to manufacture, mechanical timepieces are significantly more expensive than battery-operated ones. Even if automatic or manual movements are, on the whole, preferred by collectors and connoisseurs, battery watches are naturally more accurate and represent the culmination of nearly 600 years of knowledge, refinement, and craftsmanship. 


Introduction to Horology on Zurichberg



How does a mechanical watch movement work?

The earliest sort of watch mechanism produced, known as a manual movement or hand-wound movement, dates to the 16th century. It must be wound every day for it to function. Hand-wound mechanism are the most traditional movements and are usually found in very conservative, expensive, and collectable watches.

How manual watch movements work – learn more on Zurichberg


(1) Turning the crown winds the mainspring, causing it to store energy.
(2) The gear train transfers the energy to the escapement.
(3) The escapement meters out the energy into regulated parts.
(4) The balance wheel uses this regulated energy to beat back and forth at a constant rate.
(5) Every certain number of beats, the dial train transfers the energy to the hands of the watch.
(6) The hands advance.



How does an automatic movement work?

An automatic, or self-winding, movement is a mechanical movement first marketed in the beginning decades of the 20th century.  It doesn't require daily hand winding because it winds itself while being worn on the wrist through the kinetic energy of your natural body movement. However, the watch will stop and need to be manually wound if it is not used for a while.

How automatic watch movements work – learn more on Zurichberg


(1) Movement of the wrist turns the rotor, which winds the mainspring. Turning the crown also winds the mainspring.
(2) The gear train transfers the energy to the escapement.
(3) The escapement meters out the energy into regulated parts.
(4) The balance wheel uses this regulated energy to beat back and forth at a constant rate.
(5) Every certain number of beats, the dial train transfers the energy to the hands of the watch.
(6) The hands advance.


How does a Quartz watch movement work? 

A quartz movement uses a battery for its power source and does not need winding like a mechanical watch. It is the most accurate type of movement currently being produced.

How an Quartz watch works – Zurichberg

(1) Electricity is carried from the battery to the quartz crystal via the integrated circuit.
(2) The electricity makes the quartz crystal vibrate at a rate of 32,768 per second.
(3) These electrical pulses are sent via the integrated circuit to the stepping motor.
(4) The stepping motor sends every 32,768th electrical pulse to the dial train.
(5) The dial train advances the hands on the watch.

 

Thanks for reading!

We hope you learned something with this article. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

BR,

Ennio from Zurichberg

0 Comments

There are no comments yet. Be the first one to post one!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published.