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Patented Single-Hand Watches
SNGLRTY
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When you look at the back of a quartz movement, it may not look as aesthetically pleasing as a mechanical movement. The interaction of the wheels and gears of an automatic movement has a fascination for watch enthusiasts.

For many, this is the main reason for the preference for mechanical over quartz. But that does not mean there is no beauty in a quartz movement - it is just hard to see!

When you deconstruct a quartz movement, the core is very similar to a mechanical movement. There is a physically oscillating body. In a mechanical movement, this is the balance wheel at about 3 ~ 4Hz; in a quartz movement is around 33,000Hz! To have oscillations at this speed, it is the crystal structure of the quartz that oscillates.

As an engineer, I see beauty in this. However, there are plenty of other ingenious aspects to a quartz movement. So before you write them off, it is wise to understand them fully.


After reading how it all works, do you have a different view? What is your preference and why?
 

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Good write up, though I am so petty that small typos in articles pester me.

I was already familiar with the basic concepts of a quartz movement, but I was not aware of the method used to compensate for temperature on HAQ. Thank you

Something I find humorous is that purists often seem to despise quartz vs. mechanical, but it is acceptable when silicon is increasingly used in mechanical watches lol
 

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The production and regulation of piezoelectric quartz crystals to track time is far more magical than the simplistic manufacture of gears, levers and springs. The romance of the mechanical watch movement is little more than a fantastic PR campaign by the Swiss watch industry. Quartz movements are more accurate, more reliable, tougher, thinner, more affordable and far cheaper to maintain then mechanical movements. That I can buy a quartz watch for less than $20 at my local grocery store that is more accurate and durable than nearly any mechanical watch should be celebrated rather then denigrated.
 

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Patented Single-Hand Watches
SNGLRTY
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Good write up, though I am so petty that small typos in articles pester me.

I was already familiar with the basic concepts of a quartz movement, but I was not aware of the method used to compensate for temperature on HAQ. Thank you

Something I find humorous is that purists often seem to despise quartz vs. mechanical, but it is acceptable when silicon is increasingly used in mechanical watches lol
Let me go and find those typos. Thank you for letting me know!
 

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I get mechanical watches, I think people like them because they are easier to understand. I think a lot of people don't appreciate quartz watches because they don't quite get how they operate or how they are made. Quartz watches have no soul? It's a literal resonating crystal, how much more spirtual-soul can you get? Plus you get electrochemistry, coils, magnets, stepper motors as well as your movement gears. And often these days, radio receivers and photovoltaic effects. So much more to appreciate.

If you like the quartz crystal cuts and IC frequency dividers of the 1960s era quartz technology though, you're going to love the MEMS oscillators used in smartwatches.
 

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Interesting piece. I have always liked quartz, and find my automatics quite needy and ironically time consuming when winding, setting dates and times etc. A grab and go quartz inside a well made watch, that hits all the markers and doesn’t have that strange sort of jerky kick when it ticksis a beautiful thing. Also love HAQ and Mecha-Quartz, particularly in my Bulova Lunar Pilot.
I think what didn’t help quartz movements amongst “purists” is that the movement was often chucked in some of the cheapest, most hideous watches, that could be picked up for a 10 bucks, and were made of plastic or garbage tin metal.
Ive also seem some rotten looking Miyota movements in my time, that looked like some sort of industrial tin opener. Some movements just need to be hidden away and not shown on a display case back. But I always feel manufacturers will prioritise Mechanical over Quartz when it comes to putting it inside a nicely made watch. Presume the mark ups are higher.
 

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Mod. Russian, China Mech.
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Girard-Perregaux used to think that, too.
15866886

Then they got all self-conscious and started trying to pretend that they had never been one of the pioneers of quartz watches.


For those who want to appreciate their quartz watch movements without spending GP money, there are some great vintage examples well worthy of a custom display back from the USSR
15866891


and China
15866930


That Beijing movement is interesting because it is in-house designed and built, but the electronic components appear to be a kit purchased from RCA, the same as was used by Roamer for their movements. Mind you the Swiss Roamer Microquartz is interesting for other reasons, such as its unusual oscillating stepper-motor design.
15866896



And I reckon Shinola might get more respect if they made the effort to visually showcase their very nicely finished Argonite movements, and maybe had their own name on it instead of that of the parts supplier.
15866912
 

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Love the gold plated battery and parts on those quartz watches.
 
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I never have just a movt sitting on my wrist…
 
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To reiterate what was said over; I actually find what GP has done with quartz watches intriguing. This type of finishing should be done more of in quartz..
GP actually did "grow out" of their self-consciousness with the 40th anniversary quartz Laureato! From the late to mid 00's if I'm correct :)
15867151
 

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I agree! When people refer to GS spring drive as quartz in a negative way, it is so ignorant! They are literally power plants sitting on ones wrist along with a quartz and automatic presence. The most fascinating movements out there.

The fact that auto movements date back so far and are still fundamentally the same, appeal to me like art does. The mechanical achievements in accuracy (not necessarily compared to quartz) is also fascinating.

The science and engineering in quartz is also externally cool. Especially the incremental improvements and thoughtfulness that go into modern luxury quartz movements.

Fundamentally different, but I do prefer the romantic element that a mechanical movements has.

Granted I wear my Apple Watch 60% of the time, my Rolex / Tudors 20% and my gshocks 20%. With that ratio I am not sure I can call my self a “purest”
 

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That may be so, but the beauty of mechanical movements is because it is constructed on a "human scale": you can look at the gears and springs and see how they work. That's fascinating in an intuitive way.

Quartz is all fancy and clever, but since you can't see it, it becomes a theoretical thing. Just as much as modern CPU design is incredibly smart and advanced, but so far removed from what the mind and the eye can immediately and inituitively grasp that it loses most of its "naive charm".

I enjoy mechanical movements especially because it's technology that is for the most part several centuries old. If I want to look at modern tech, that's all around me anyway - I don't need a watch for that.
 

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I agree, I am somewhat of an odd duck, I find quartz to be just as interesting, but in a slightly different way. I have recently discovered seikos “Meca-Quartz” chronograph movements and while they aren’t pretty and aren’t jeweled, they have a really cool charm that makes me want to collect these types of watches. I also have a soft spot for Seiko. Citizen has been kind of quartz IMO for some time though. These modern Eco-Drive movements are absolutely amazing. I have four of them now and even my 10 yo Chronotime AT works flawlessly and has never been opened. There are so many cool and interesting types of quartz. The biggest mistake people make is putting all quartz watches in the same category, “cheap junk” and that’s not true at all. I absolutely love my mechanical watches just as much, for different reasons. Some watches make sense to have a mechanical movement and I wouldn’t want it any other way, and the same goes for quartz.


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When you look at the back of a quartz movement, it may not look as aesthetically pleasing as a mechanical movement. The interaction of the wheels and gears of an automatic movement has a fascination for watch enthusiasts.

For many, this is the main reason for the preference for mechanical over quartz.
Speaking only for myself, my interest in mechanical watches grew from the frustration of having to change batteries in a quartz watch every couple years. Even for solar-powered or kinetic quartz movements, my understanding is that there are components, such as capacitors, which will need to be replaced every decade or so.

But with mechanical movements, particularly the Japanese mechanical movements, they're effectively maintenance-free for decades.

I'm not an engineer. Far from it. I'm not remotely mechanically inclined. When my watchmaker starts trying to explain how the mechanical movements work, my eyes glaze over.

What I am is a pragmatist (an almost militant one, at that). What few things I buy, I try to make last as long as I can. I'll drive a car until it's not worth what it will cost to keep it road-worthy.

I appreciate the "buy one and you're done" nature of any product, but mechanical watches in particular, in an age when so much of what we buy is designed to be disposable, or otherwise intended to be made obsolete by future iterations of the same product.

I respect other enthusiasts' preference for quartz, if that's what they like. But no quartz for me, thanks.
 

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The production and regulation of piezoelectric quartz crystals to track time is far more magical than the simplistic manufacture of gears, levers and springs. The romance of the mechanical watch movement is little more than a fantastic PR campaign by the Swiss watch industry. Quartz movements are more accurate, more reliable, tougher, thinner, more affordable and far cheaper to maintain then mechanical movements. That I can buy a quartz watch for less than $20 at my local grocery store that is more accurate and durable than nearly any mechanical watch should be celebrated rather then denigrated.
I really couldn't have said it better than this. But I understand and embrace the mystical romanticism of mechanical watches...I own two Hamilton microrotor's and that's some tough love ;).

But seriously that's the beauty of appreciating both. Own, preserve, fix a vintage and admire it. Grab and go with a technologically fabulous and modern quartz. Grab a hand wind modern or vintage gem just for fun. The idea of simply not owning quartz seems absurd; but, whatever floats your boat as they say. To me there's a spot in the watch box for all types. I appreciate a great historical muscle car, but I also love heated seats, abs, air bags, traction controls and modern vehicles as well.
 
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