Watch Talk

Mechanical vs. Quartz

Q: What is the difference between a mechanical and quartz watch? Which is better between the two?

A: While there are many categories and subcategories for watches, the dividing factor is usually whether a battery and quartz are used in the movement. Traditional quartz watches are powered batteries. Mechanical watches (automatic/hand wound) do not use batteries.  Whether one is better than the other is entirely subjective. The best way to answer this question is by analyzing the characteristics of each watch and forming a personal opinion.

Quartz Watches

  • A quartz watch offers very accurate timekeeping, usually within a few seconds every month. 

    • Not all quartz watches are the same.  Some highly accurate quartz watches will offer timekeeping within a few seconds a year.

    • Other movements offer radio-controlled synchronization with atomic time to ensure constant accuracy.

  • Aside from a battery change every few years (depending on the model and movement), quartz watches are very low maintenance.  

  • Visually, quartz watches are easy to identify by their ticking second hand.

  • To many watch collectors, quartz watch/movement lack the craftsmanship or engineering of a mechanical watch.  This makes mechanical watches more desired by a large portion of the watch community.

  • Shock resistance is higher on quartz watches because of their simpler movements.

Mechanical Watches

  • The most attractive quality of a mechanical watch is the complex movement composed of intricate pieces working together to power the timepiece. 

  • There are two major types of mechanical movements: Automatic and Manual movements. 

  • The best mechanical watches (COSC certified) offer an accuracy of ± 1-4 seconds a day.

    •  The average mechanical movement in our budget is closer to ± 5-15 seconds a day.

  •  Contrasting the ticking hand of a quartz watch, a mechanical movement can be recognized by a sweeping second hand.

  •  A full service of a mechanical watch is recommended every four-six years.

  • The intricate pieces in the movement make mechanical watches more delicate and fragile than quartz watches.


We believe each option has a specific purpose.  It is best to judge the usage you will give a specific watch and make your decision.  Of course, there is always the solution and approach most watch enthusiasts take an own multiple kinds of watches!

-Affordable Wrist Time

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