How Do Quartz Watches Work?

Quartz Watches vs. Mechanical Watches

Most modern watches, whether a pocket watch or wristwatch, are quartz watches. They are electronic battery-powered watches, precise, and reliable.

Quartz watches are powered by a battery and use an oscillating quartz crystal to measure time. That is, rather than a spring and a series of gears and wheels, which is how a mechanical watch works.

Despite the differences in exactly how these two types of watch keep time, ultimately the end result is the same: driving the hands on a watch dial at a consistent rate so we can tell the time.

Because quartz watches are electronic, they are typically more reliable and require less maintenance to keep them running. With quartz watches, the only routine maintenance needed is generally a simple as changing the battery.

Quartz Pocket Watch

How Quartz Watches Work

Watches with quartz movement use a battery and a quartz crystal to measure time and keep the watch running.

The battery sends a small current of electricity through a quartz crystal to make the crystal vibrate. This is an example of the piezoelectric effect.

When the quartz crystal has a current running through it, it will vibrate, or oscillate, at a specific rate (32,768 times per second).

The electrical components in the watch count the number of oscillations and will send pulses of electricity at regular intervals to move the watch hands.

Taking Care of a Quartz Watch

Quartz watches require much less maintenance than mechical watches.

Unless something happens to your watch that needs to be repaired, you will usually only need to change the battery when it runs out.

Beyond that, keep your watch safe from water damage and scratches, and you should have a watch that lasts years, or even decades.