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Watch Movements: Everything a New Watch Collector Needs to Know

What distinguishes watches apart from one another? Aesthetics form one part of the science of horology, and the other is what’s inside. Learn about the movement of your watch today!

Watch Movements: Everything a New Watch Collector Needs to Know

Watches are beautiful pieces of wearable art, but unlike jewelry, watches must move and accurately keep time. This places timepieces in a unique category of luxury due to the fact that their beauty comes from the outer parts of a piece—like the case, dial, and bezel—as much as the inner workings of the piece. Inside, the machinery that powers a watch is known as the “movement,” and movements are sculptures made from intricate details.

Of course, not every watch has the same movement! Some watches use electricity (either from solar or a battery), some use mechanical energy, and some rely on kinetic energy to turn the hands of a watch. Today, we’re going to discuss the differences between the kinds of movements you’ll find in the watches offered here at Merry Richards Jewelers!

Manual Movements

A manual movement is the most vintage style of movement, relying on the owner to turn a dial on the case of the watch. The energy is collected in the mainspring, and a complex arrangement of gears and jewels tick out the energy in a carefully metered pattern to turn the hands.

Many luxury designers, ranging from Oris to Panerai to Omega and more, rely on this antique movement. The reason is because a mechanical watch has a special artistry that a collector will adore. While manual watches are less precise than quartz watches, they have the durability to last for generations and can be passed down as an heirloom.

Watch Movements by Merry Richards Jewelers

Automatic Movements

Automatic watches don’t require their owner to turn the dial because they have a pivoting weight inside the case. This weight is attached to a ratchet, and with every movement of the owner’s arm, kinetic (motion) energy is collected in the mainspring.

In this way, the automatic watch can be seen as a refinement of the manual movement: While still maintaining the technological beauty of a manual watch, an automatic movement takes some of the guesswork out of maintaining the proper time on the dial. Just as many luxury designers make automatic timepieces nowadays, and whether you’re partial to the luxe of a Piaget watch or a piece from Longines, there’s an automatic choice ready for you.

Quartz Movements

Quartz movements are a controversial topic in the world of timepiece design. Back in the 1970s, Japan roared into horological dominance by introducing movements powered by electricity. Batteries in quartz watches send a current through a small quartz crystal, which vibrates at a scientifically constant rate. The vibration is used by a circuit board to turn the hands of the watch.

Quartz watches developed a reputation for being cheap and disposable in the 80s, but today, luxury watchmakers have experimented with quartz timepieces: Michele and Montblanc, and even Rolex have designed quartz movement watches, and stopping by the Merry Richards Jewelers watch finder can help point you toward these modern pieces.

Find Luxury Timepieces and More at Merry Richards Jewelers


Here at Merry Richards Jewelers, we consider watches a crucial cornerstone of our showroom, and we hardly stop at selling them. Our services are backed by a satisfaction guarantee and excellent facilities staffed by trained staff. We take pride in our ability to maintain all manner of timepieces and perform watch repair. If you’re interested in Swiss-quality timepieces, give us a call at 1-630-516-8000 or visit us at our Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois showroom today!

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