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Quartz vs. Mechanical Pocket Watch

Quartz vs. Mechanical Pocket Watch

When selecting a pocket watch you must decide on the watch movement. Both quartz and mechanical movements have advantages and disadvantages, both functionally and aesthetically. Let us examine some of the differences.

Time Keeping:

A mechanical watch is hand assembled and made of small carefully machined parts. It must be hand wound daily to put tension on the mainspring. The mainspring then releases this tension in a controlled manner through an escapement device at an average rate of 5 to 8 oscillations per second. In a 24 hour period you can find mechanical watches to be +/- one minute and if not adjusted daily they can be off by several minutes after several days have passed.

The quartz watch uses a quartz crystal in the shape of a small tuning fork that oscillates or vibrates when the electricity from the battery provides energy to the crystal. This small tuning fork shaped quartz crystal will oscillate at over 33 thousand times per second. The watch circuitry then translates these oscillations to accurately display the time. Quartz watch movements are very accurate and seldom need the time adjusted.

Even if both watches had the same percentage of error it would be impossible for a mechanical watch at 5 oscillations per second to compare to a devise that has 33,000 oscillations per second. 
The quartz pocket watch is by far the most accurate if time keeping is your primary concern.


It is difficult to compete with the history and romance of the mechanical pocket watch. The weight and feel takes you back to the days of our grandfathers, before computers, before cell phones and before twitter. It harkens back to an age when products were hand made by craftsmen. A time when you would pause in the moment, carefully wind your watch, set the time and give contemplation to the day ahead. Something that can get neglected in today’s fast paced life style. This makes the mechanical watch the winner in this category.



The mechanical watch is constructed of many small gears and parts; this also makes them heavier than a quartz watch. If you drop a mechanical pocket watch you can cause damage requiring major repair, the same is not as likely with the lighter quartz watches. A quartz watch is also more resistant to water and damage from moisture exposure. A mechanical pocket watch it can be both durable and reliable if you take care but if your lifestyle is faster paced and you are more prone to dropping things the quartz pocket watch may be the safer pick.


Mechanical pocket watches have proven to last over 100 years. Owners can keep these pocket watches in fine working order with care and regular maintenance. These mechanical masterpieces are capable of lasting a lifetime and can then to be passed on to your heirs to enjoy. 
The quartz watch on the other hand has only been widely available since the 1970’s. Changes in battery design and technology and while taking into consideration the lifespan of electronics in general, it would be unreasonable to expect the service life of quartz watches to match that of the mechanical variety. Will a lack of parts make your particular quart watch unserviceable, no one can know for sure. Although for lifespan the mechanical pocket watch is your best investment.

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