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likely a dumbo question but here goes.

When I was a kid you could get crystal radio kits. Is there any relationship between them and the quartz watch family tree ?
 
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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.
I have quartz from 1978 and 1976 still running. If your movement not made out of bargain bin rejects you don't need to replace any electric component in a very long time. in some cases in your lifetime.
Battery every 2 years is annoying but there are plenty of movements with bigger cells up to 10 years. No sun, no fuss and in 10 years you better replace gaskets anyway and service mechanical as well. My main dislike of quartz offering is often penny pinching choices on behalf of manufacturers. Who often opt to save whooping 4-5$ on a watch (which i am happy to pay by the way) and instead of "higher end" movement ( i am talking about switching 15$ one for 20-25$ one) opt for something like full plastic garbage. That's why i am very fond of Citizen, Casio, Ceritina and Longiness. Bulova prescisionist included in Citizen.
These choices by manufactures do give quartz bad rep. Full plastic Ronda is utter garbage especially if watch overheats due to exposure to sun (it can get as hot as 60C on one side). Full metal quartz with quality components is as good as any mechanical watch. Technically even better because there is less wear and tear.
If you buy quartz movement at comparable in price to entry level of Seiko mechanical movement not to mention better ones you will get worry free operation for decades.

I am not disputing preferences just saying whole thing about quartz not lasting does have some ground, but it rooted in very specific choices at design and manufacturing stages. It has absolutely nothing to do with actual technology.

You get what you paid for works everywhere. But in some cases it was not your choice to begin with.
 

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Okay. The sheer volume of people saying they're servicing their Seikos every 2-3 years is enough to persuade me you're entirely correct.
I hear what you are saying, respect your experience, and I tend to agree. I have a relatively new bronze watch with an ETA movement in it that I wore like yours ('cause bronze likes water and sweat). But now it dies every night. Only watch I have that can't make it 8 hours on its own after wearing it all day. Tells time fine, but its just not self winding itself. I'm guessing the only way I'll get that 40 hour power reserve is by hand winding. If I don't give it a good winding when I put it on, I'll find out later its 5 minutes slow.

Maybe I'm being overly cautious, but I simply bought a VAER quartz watch as a weekend beater sports watch that I don't have to worry about.
 

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I hear what you are saying, respect your experience, and I tend to agree. I have a relatively new bronze watch with an ETA movement in it that I wore like yours ('cause bronze likes water and sweat). But now it dies every night. Only watch I have that can't make it 8 hours on its own after wearing it all day. Tells time fine, but its just not self winding itself. I'm guessing the only way I'll get that 40 hour power reserve is by hand winding. If I don't give it a good winding when I put it on, I'll find out later its 5 minutes slow.

Maybe I'm being overly cautious, but I simply bought a VAER quartz watch as a weekend beater sports watch that I don't have to worry about.
I may be misunderstanding you, or vice-versa. Either way, I'll try to help, and also try to be clear.

First, I'm not sure what you mean by "like yours". We've never made a bronze watch, nor used any ETA movements. We have used the STP1-11 though, which is somewhat of an ETA clone.

What we found is that despite popular opinion on the internet, the bi-directional winding did not make them more efficient auto-winders. There were a number of customers who thought they were moving around enough to fully wind the watches by the time they took them off, but apparently they weren't, because we couldn't find anything wrong with the auto-winding when we tested them.

That said, even though we've found the uni-directionally winding Miyotas to be very efficient (and more efficient than the bi-directional winders), we have still had some folks who just weren't moving around enough. In either case, yeah, you need to hand-wind the watch to supplement the auto-winding.

There's no reason why they would know this, unless they went looking for the info, but I'm guessing most watch geeks don't realize the difference in efficiency between hand-winding and auto-winding. The movement might only need 25-40 full turns of the crown to be fully wound, but 1000-1200 full rotations of the rotor. Think about that, and do the math.

If a unidirectional rotor gets 1/3 of a turn for each complete back-and-forth swing of your arm, you'd need to take 3,000 steps before it's fully wound.

With the bi-directionals, it's no better. They have a "dead-spot" whenever the rotor changes direction. There's about 20-30 degrees of rotation that adds nothing to the power reserve, whenever the rotor changes direction.

With the Swiss movements, sometimes the winding mechanism isn't adequately lubricated (I think specifically, in the reverser wheels), which I think can lead to less efficient auto-winding. If your rotor spins when you hand-wind with the crown, that's a dead giveaway.

With the Miyotas, as counter-intuitive as this seems, less lubrication actually makes the rotor spin MORE, so it winds even faster, albeit, at the cost of more wear-and-tear on the mechanism, and a louder rotor. More lubrication is the only thing that will make it quieter, but at the expense of becoming less efficient at auto-winding.

Since you quoted my response to someone else, about the maintenance intervals - I went out of my way to be very specific with my earlier comments. I do NOT expect a Swiss movement to run well, for decades, without service.

Having asked at least half a dozen watchmakers about it, the consensus was that at the longest, you shouldn't go more than 7 years before having a Swiss mechanical serviced. The lubricants dry out, and you're grinding gears at that point.

But with the entry-level, workhorse movements from Japan, it just doesn't make economic sense to service them, ever, because it's cheaper to just replace them. Since that's true, then their maintenance interval is the same as their service life. That isn't 2-3 years, or 5-7 years. It's however long it takes until the movement needs to be replaced. If the movement is still running and keeping time, why would you replace it?

No one in their right mind would pay more to service one, or even bother to replace one, while it's still running well and keeping time.

If the movement dies, and it's still under warranty, send it back to the manufacturer for a replacement (that's what we do). If it's not under warranty, then just drop a new unit into the case. Otherwise, let it run until it won't run no more.

We've had to replace maybe 1 unit for every 1000 we've shipped. It's ridiculous how well they run. And it's not up to me to prove that people AREN'T servicing them (since it's impossible to prove the negative). It's up to someone else to prove that people ARE servicing them, and in large enough numbers to negate my basic point - these Japanese movements are effectively maintenance-free.

I guarantee that can't be disproven, since we know their short-term failure rate is insanely low.
 

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What we found is that despite popular opinion on the internet, the bi-directional winding did not make them more efficient auto-winders. There were a number of customers who thought they were moving around enough to fully wind the watches by the time they took them off, but apparently they weren't, because we couldn't find anything wrong with the auto-winding when we tested them.

That said, even though we've found the uni-directionally winding Miyotas to be very efficient (and more efficient than the bi-directional winders), we have still had some folks who just weren't moving around enough. In either case, yeah, you need to hand-wind the watch to supplement the auto-winding.

There's no reason why they would know this, unless they went looking for the info, but I'm guessing most watch geeks don't realize the difference in efficiency between hand-winding and auto-winding. The movement might only need 25-40 full turns of the crown to be fully wound, but 1000-1200 full rotations of the rotor. Think about that, and do the math.

If a unidirectional rotor gets 1/3 of a turn for each complete back-and-forth swing of your arm, you'd need to take 3,000 steps before it's fully wound.

With the bi-directionals, it's no better. They have a "dead-spot" whenever the rotor changes direction. There's about 20-30 degrees of rotation that adds nothing to the power reserve, whenever the rotor changes direction.
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Hi Doc,
I’m interested in the bit above, the efficiency of auto winding vs hand winding. I have come across this before but it rings true.

Can anyone point me to some more info ?
 

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There is a kind of inevitability to all this. A discussion is started about the appreciation of quartz for its own sake. This quickly devolves into a discussion about the relative merits of quartz vs mechanical, from there it moves to the economic case for mechanicals, and finally we are onto comparing the merits of particular self-winding mechanisms.

Time for some eye candy...

15870387
15870386
 

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Not a huge fan of quartz, I have a couple of them and I like them but they don't appeal to me as much as mechanicals do. But when it comes to convenience there is no contest whatsoever. New battery every 3 years vs the hassle of keeping the mechanical movement wound, setting the time, setting the date, possibly servicing which costs more than a pack of batteries that will last you a lifetime. I guess I just don't understand the reasoning of changing the battery once every 3 years being a hassle but changing the entire movement if something goes wrong is supposed to be no big deal.
 

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When I first began this journey into insanity several years ago, I was a quartz guy. Over time I went all in on autos because of the "soul" aspect. Over the past couple years I have returned to quartz, and you couldn't pay me to own an auto.

Sent from my SM-G981V using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #50 ·
Hi Doc,
I’m interested in the bit above, the efficiency of auto winding vs hand winding. I have come across this before but it rings true.

Can anyone point me to some more info ?
I have some good info on this, but I will write it in another thread to try and keep this on the subject. IN the meantime if you are curious about how the bi-directional winding works ... here is some relevant information.
Steve
 

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Discussion Starter · #51 ·
likely a dumbo question but here goes.

When I was a kid you could get crystal radio kits. Is there any relationship between them and the quartz watch family tree ?
Those radio kits do not use quartz crystals, usually galena crystals. They are passive receivers so the radio signal is passed through the crystal, this creates movement in the crystal that then creates an electrical signal that can be turned into sound in headphones. The commonality is that the movement of the crystal is harnessed for the specific effect that is desired. After that there is very little similarity really. Hope that helps.
 

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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.
You really got that frustrated spending 5 minutes putting a new battery in a quartz watch once every 5 years?

Then you must really hate getting the oil changed in your car or replacing your A/C filters twice a year.

In my experience, looking at a bunch of dead automatics and having to set the time and date every day is much more labor intensive (and a much bigger waste of time) than putting a new battery in a case every few years.
 

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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.
It should be.

But snobbery and elitism won't allow a certain segment of the population to embrace that.

"My watch is less accurate than yours and stops running every 2-3 days. But since it costs thousands of dollars, it's definitely better than yours."
 

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If we really get off mechanical vs quartz thing there are plenty of similarities in quartz timekeeping to any other oscillator based timekeeping.

Yet, there are far more Nobel prizes awarded for discoveries leading to tech inside quartz. Quartz is pinnacle of thousands people working and pushing boundaries of what we know.

It's a watch forum and yet so many people don't understand how watches work and what work went inside it. Mostly outside things are appreciated.

It was amazing thing to have watch working off battery and keeping time as good as it can get by using this new advanced tech which previously been impossible! That was a reason behind quartz revolution.

We lost this ability to be happy and appreciate efforts of scientists and engineers and how world is full of wonders, you may not be able to understand but some people do and that's cool.

Like Einstein relativity which became media darling and later all atomic.

It's like Gru mom who not impressed with actual moon rocket.
 

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Hi Doc,
I’m interested in the bit above, the efficiency of auto winding vs hand winding. I have come across this before but it rings true.

Can anyone point me to some more info ?

 
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Not a huge fan of quartz, I have a couple of them and I like them but they don't appeal to me as much as mechanicals do. But when it comes to convenience there is no contest whatsoever. New battery every 3 years vs the hassle of keeping the mechanical movement wound, setting the time, setting the date, possibly servicing which costs more than a pack of batteries that will last you a lifetime. I guess I just don't understand the reasoning of changing the battery once every 3 years being a hassle but changing the entire movement if something goes wrong is supposed to be no big deal.
I suppose some of it comes down to how we remember various experiences, and / or how we value our own time.

Before I got really sucked into this strange hobby, I only owned quartz watches, and not many of them. I still remember the frustration of going to put a watch on, only to realize the battery had died.

I didn't have the tools or the knowledge to change them out myself, so I'd have to schlep to the mall to have it done at one of those kiosks. My wife would typically ask me to have the battery changed out in one or two of her watches, too. So I'd end up spending an hour or more on round-trip driving and waiting for the person doing the swaps to get the work done.

And I've grown to hate going to the mall.

For me, spending an hour or two doing a chore, even if it's only done once every couple years, feels like a bigger waste of my time than spending a minute setting whatever watch I'm about to wear, a few times per week, even if those minutes add up to be a lot more time spent. It's about how enjoyable that time is, not how much time it is.

The last straw for me was when a battery died less than a year after I'd bought the watch. It had been running in the store's case. I'd just lost my job two days earlier, and our water heater needed to be replaced the day before. I was so frustrated that week, I wanted to chuck that watch across the room.

Those sorts of experiences create memories - bad ones. That last battery dying on me was actually the experience that led directly to me thinking about starting a watch business.

Compare that battery-changing experience to spending a minute setting the time on a mechanical watch (almost all my watches are no-dates, so I don't need to set the date), and giving the crown a dozen turns. By comparison, setting a mechanical watch is an enjoyable experience, especially if you've come to think of your watches as "special" in some way, which is how I view mine.

Why are they special to me? Well, besides the fact that my business produced most of them, I admit I got sucked into the "romance" of mechanical watches, to some degree. But to be fair, I've never been one of those guys running around saying "quartz has no soul". I just like the total experience of owning mechanicals, including not having to change batteries, and the idea that most of my watches will likely run well until I die, and keep running.

I didn't take a lot of pride in my collection before I became a real collector. It was just a handful of quartz watches I wore, each of which occasionally created a hassle in my life. Now I've got a few more, but feel a connection to them. That connection is re-solidified each time I go through the ritual routine of setting one and winding it.

Could I change my own batteries now? Sure, I guess, if I wanted to, but I still wouldn't find that enjoyable. I'm sure I'd still feel a sense of frustration if I went to put a watch on and saw that the battery had died. I'd still worry (perhaps needlessly) that I'd screw up and fry the module (I read somewhere that's a risk, and I have really bad manual dexterity, so it's a fear, for me).

So, like I said in my first post here, my interest in mechanicals isn't about any geeky fascination with how they work, it's about how owning them appeals to my pragmatic nature.
 

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But with mechanical movements, particularly the Japanese mechanical movements, they're effectively maintenance-free for decades.
What makes you conclude that Japanese movements are superior to Swiss equivalents in terms of durability/longevity? Say, ETA 2824 vs Miyota 9015 (the movement you use the most). The ETA has a long track record of being a reliable workhorse. The 9015 is barely a decade old, so how can you conclude it'll last decades and outperform Swiss equivalents?
 

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You really got that frustrated spending 5 minutes putting a new battery in a quartz watch once every 5 years?

Then you must really hate getting the oil changed in your car or replacing your A/C filters twice a year.

In my experience, looking at a bunch of dead automatics and having to set the time and date every day is much more labor intensive (and a much bigger waste of time) than putting a new battery in a case every few years.
Like I said, I wasn't doing the battery changes myself. I was schlepping to the mall to have it done, and it seemed like between the handful of watches I owned, and my wife's watches, it was every year or two. I actually had a little card in my wallet from the kiosk in the mall. I think we got a free battery change after every six, or something like that.

I suppose getting my car's oil changed or replacing the A/C filters doesn't bother me because there isn't any viable and clearly better alternative that I can easily adopt.

The only alternative form of car that doesn't require an oil change is an electric car. The cost of switching from gas engines to electric vehicles can be high (Teslas are a lot more than my VW), and you're basically trading quarterly oil changes for nightly re-charging. A car that's over-due for an oil change will still run. Try driving an electric car that's run out of charge.

To be fair, I don't enjoy filling my gas tank, but it takes less time than changing quartz batteries used to take me, and I'm not making any special trips just to fill my tank.

If there's an alternative A/C system that doesn't use filters, I'm unlikely to go to the high expense of converting a home's A/C system just to avoid the semi-annual filter change.

But the cost to switch from quartz watches to mechanicals was pretty minimal by comparison. What I was spending on watches went up a little when I switched from quartz to mechanical watches, but part of that increase in cost came because I was also buying higher quality watches. And, I gained a lot of convenience.

For me, spending a minute setting the time and giving the crown a dozen terms, a few times per week, is enjoyable. Schlepping to the mall to get a battery changed every year or two isn't.

A minute is all it takes for me to be wearing a mechanical watch. A watch with a dead battery can't be worn until the battery gets changed out. Whether I change it myself or have someone else do it for me, neither is an enjoyable experience. So a dead battery is a bigger inconvenience for me than a mechanical that's run down to a stop.
 

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Regardless of whether they’re mechanical or quartz they are all clever little things.
You know what Sticky, I reckon that just about nails it!

I have to thank Quartz watches for really getting me hooked though! When the batteries failed I used to take them off to a local Jeweller/Watch-mender to have the battery replaced and the Water Resistance tested, paying over £20 for the privilege, until I thought that as a computer engineer I should be able to do it myself - YouTube is your friend. Problem is now friends and family think I am the resident watch fixer! But they have a higher opinion of my abilities than I do, No that watch that you were given in auntie Flo's Will, that has ben stuck in a drawer for ten years and the battery has corroded into a solid lump as she got it replaced by some "Cowboy" on the local market, will never run again!

The names have been changed to incriminate the innocent:LOL:

Best regards,
Jim
 

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What makes you conclude that Japanese movements are superior to Swiss equivalents in terms of durability/longevity? Say, ETA 2824 vs Miyota 9015 (the movement you use the most). The ETA has a long track record of being a reliable workhorse. The 9015 is barely a decade old, so how can you conclude it'll last decades and outperform Swiss equivalents?
You're putting words in my mouth. Additionally, you're adding your own value judgments and bias to the comparison.

The ETA has a long track record of being reliable - WHEN IT'S SERVICED ROUTINELY. By comparison, the Miyota 9's are a dozen years old, and no one is having them serviced, because it doesn't make sense to service one when it's cheaper to just replace the movement, and no one would do that if it's still running well.

I'm just looking at these things logically, using the facts I have available to me. I'm sure you've seen me explain the logic already, but I'll explain it again.

I've spoken to at least a dozen watchmakers about this. I ask them all the same questions about Swiss mechanical movements. Among those questions, I ask them how long the service interval really should be, because I've seen that debated endlessly online.

Their consensus is that you can stretch that interval out a bit if you're not wearing the watch every day, but even if that's the case, it really ought to be serviced by the 7 year mark, because the lubricants dry out, and there are likely to be parts in need of replacement. Delaying beyond that point is likely to do more damage to the movement, increasing the inevitable costs when the watch is eventually serviced.

To be fair, service costs vary, it seems, with location. I've seen people say they can get a movement serviced for $200 or less, but I've never had a watchmaker quote me a price that low. The lowest was never less than $300, not including the cost of any parts which need to be replaced. That also doesn't include any shipping cost, if there isn't a watchmaker within a reasonable driving distance.

You can buy a standard grade ETA 2824-2 from a supplier for about $200, including shipping. If you know how to regulate and do movement swaps, then you could just replace the movement yourself, for less than the cost of servicing one. Even if you don't know how to do it, a watchmaker might agree to swap a new movement in for an old one, but I'd bet your total cost would work out to be about the same - around $300, for the cost of the movement, and the watchmaker's time.

So, you're looking at ~$300, maybe more, whether you service or replace one of those movements. If you want to wait until the movement dies before you do that, okay, then wait. But while you're waiting, you're likely going to see a drop off in performance - decreased accuracy, and maybe decreased PR.

How does that compare to Japanese movements like the Seiko NH3x's or Miyota 9's? We say just let them run until they die.

Replacement cost? $40 for the Seiko NH3x. $100-$120 for the Miyota 9's. Swap the movement out yourself, or pay a watchmaker to do it. Even paying a watchmaker, the service is the same, so the lower movement cost means it'll be less than what you'd pay to replace a Swiss movement.

What happens while you're running them until they die? Maybe you're seeing decreased performance. But when does that start, and how severe is the drop-off?

The Seiko NH3's (7S35) is a successor to the NH25 (7S25), introduced in 2004. There are tons of 7S25's and older Seiko calibres out there, still running well without ever being serviced, some for decades, like my old Seiko Pogue (now 50 years old, and still running well). The Miyota 9 series was introduced in 2009, more than a decade ago, and we haven't heard of massive failures in the meantime.

Can we say for sure what will happen with the NH35 or Miyota 9 series in the future? No, but when we look at the longevity of other Miyota movements, like the 8215 (introduced in 1977), and all the vintage Seiko and Citizens running well without being serviced for decades, and we look at how robust and reliable the newer calibres are, I think it's reasonable to expect these newer calibres to also be maintenance free for decades.

I don't think any reasonable person would truly assume this, but if we want to be absurd, we can worry that the Japanese movements will need to be serviced or replaced just as often as a Swiss movement should be serviced or replaced - no less frequently than every 7 years. Okay, assuming the worst, the cost to replace one of the Japanese movements is still going to be less than the cost of servicing or replacing a Swiss movement.

So, in that way, I think it's fair to say the Japanese movements ARE superior, at least in terms of long-term ownership costs.
 
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