What makes your watch tick?

It’s Watch Wednesday! Have you ever wondered what makes your watch tick? Obviously a battery makes it work, but the mechanical parts inside our watches… how do they all coordinate together to make the hands move on the face? Below is some interesting information about the inside parts of our watches.

Heads up: Technical Jargon ahead!

How does an Automatic Watch work? An Automatic watch winds itself, from the movement when you wear it on your arm, making winding it unnecessary. Other automatic watches require manual winding on a daily or weekly basis; still others use mechanical or solar energy to charge a battery driving a quartz movement.

How does a Mechanical Watch work?  A mechanical watch uses a mechanical mechanism to measure the passage of time, as opposed to modern quartz watches which function electronically. It is driven by a spring which must be wound periodically. Its force is transmitted through a series of gears to power the balance wheel, a weighted wheel which oscillates back and forth at a constant rate. Mechanical watches are not as accurate as Quartz watches and are generally a bit more expensive. Until the quartz revolution of the 1960s, all watches were mechanical.

Does a quartz watch really have quartz in it? Quartz watches actually use quartz crystals to keep time. Modern quartz watches now use a low-frequency bar or tuning-fork-shaped crystal. The electronics of the watch initially amplifies noise at the crystal frequency. This builds or regenerates into oscillation — it starts the crystal ringing. The output of the watch crystal oscillator is then converted to pulses suitable for the digital circuits. These divide the crystal’s frequency down and then translate it into the proper format for the display. [Source: How Stuff Works “How Quartz Watches Work]

How accurate were the first watches made?  Early watches were terribly imprecise; a good one could vary as much as 15 minutes in a day. Modern precision (a few seconds per day) was not attained by any watch until 1760, when John Harrison created his marine chronometers. Precision was attained as from 1854 first by the Waltham Watch Company, through the industrialization of the manufacturing process of the movement part, in order to attain the necessary precision: they won a Gold Medal at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition  with a lot of watches taken at random out of the production line, showing the way to their peers in U.S.A. (e.g. Elgin Watch Company) and the worldwide watch industry.

Can you over wind a watch?  Self-winding mechanisms would continue working even after the mainspring was fully wound up, putting excessive tension on the mainspring. To prevent a watch from being over wound, a slipping clutch device is used on the mainspring.

Interesting! What is your favorite watch?

[Sources: Mechanical Watches, Quartz Watches, Automatic Watch]

Blog post by ~ Jelene

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