Are Quartz Watches More Accurate Than Automatic Watches?

Looking at your quartz watch and thinking of getting one of those elegant and historic automatic timepieces made from centuries of heritage? Maybe it is the other way around. You look at your automatic and wonder if a mass-produced quartz can be more accurate than your automatic? Whether quartz or automatics, were more accurate was one of my first questions as well when getting into watches.

Quartz watches are more accurate compared to mechanical and automatic watches. A quartz watch certified under the COSC standard will deviate at maximum ±0.07 seconds per day, compared to mechanical and automatic, which will be -4 to +6 seconds per day.

While automatic watches have a better reputation among collectors and enthusiasts, quartz has a valuable place in the watch community. Alone the accuracy can make a quartz watch worth more to the right owner, than the heritage which the automatic and mechanical watches are build upon.

Are Quartz More Accurate Than Automatic Watches?

The simple answer is yes. A quartz is more accurate than an automatic watch. Whether you are comparing a cheap quartz to a cheap automatic or a high-end quartz to a high-end automatic, the quartz will beat the automatic in a test of accuracy.

The reason for the increased accuracy comes from a mineral called, you guessed it, quartz crystals.

Quartz watches are typically accurate to within ± 1 seconds per day. However, high-quality watches following the COSC standard is within an accuracy of ± 0.07 per day.

The invention of putting current through a quartz crystal started in 1927. While taking a little to reach global adoption, by the year 1969, different watch companies were releasing quartz wristwatches. Since then, the quartz watches dominated the mechanical and automatic watches for several of reasons.

Mechanical and automatic watches are made with a pendulum powered motor. The pendulum is affected by gravity, which means that laying the watch flat on a table is going at a different speed than when worn on the wrist, which is continuously moving.

Besides the old school pendulum, automatic watches’ accuracy is also dependent on the quality of the components, lubrication, temperature changes, shocks, etc. In contrast, quartz are known to be less complicated, hence more durable to shocks, not in the same need of lubrication, and can better withstand temperature changes.

To summarize, quartz watches are superior in accuracy and typically also in price. While quartz watches offer less uniqueness, and their longevity can be questioned, they are better at keeping time and tend to be more shockproof.

What Is Better: Quartz or Automatic Watches?

It is hard to tell which is better, since that is heavily based on personal preferences. While I would take an automatic watch any day over a quartz, quartz is more accurate, tends to be more shock-resistant, and also generally less expensive to acquire and maintain.

The best way to highlight their values must be to make a list with there positives.

Why quartz are better:

Standard Quartz Movement
Standard Quartz Movement
  • Quartz watches are generally cheaper. Services doesn’t cost much, and the purchasing of a quartz is also reasonably low when comparing quality quartz and automatics.
  • Due to the pricing, it is more financially responsible to have a collection of quartz watches.
  • It is a great fashion piece, as it is affordable to change every season.
  • Quartz watches generally do good against shocks.
  • Quartz is more accurate than automatics.

Why automatics are better:

Frederique Constant Carree FC315-MS4 White Dial
Frederique Constant Carree FC315-MS4 White Dial
  • Automatic watches have a lot of uniqueness.
  • It is a part of history, which is engineered with modern technology.
  • Automatic watches can last for ever under the right care and maintenance.
  • Automatic watches with transparent backplate allows for a peek at the movement. The owner can appreciate the craftsmanship of the watch and see its uniqueness.
  • While quartz watches are trend-driven, automatic watches are made to be timeless because of their longevity.
  • Automatic watches require a lot more skill to manufacture and repair, which also adds a lot of exclusivity to the timepiece.
  • The second hand sweeping instead of ticking is also a hypnotizing effect of automatic and mechanical watches.

The list is self-explanatory, and you can also see that I am quite a bit biased towards automatics. While I do like quartz because of the cost efficiency, automatic watches just have this “something” that quartz doesn’t. When it comes to the function of a watch, it is to tell time and that quartz does best.

Do Quartz Last Longer Than Automatic Watches?

Answering this question, of course, comes with a disclaimer: A watch will last longer if service and maintenance are followed. Servicing and maintaining a watch will extend the life of the watch, if the alternative was to buy it and wear it till it stopped working.

While that might be self-explanatory, a lot of people expect some high-quality or costly watches to require zero to low maintenance. In fact, both quartz and automatic watches require maintenance. However, the interval at which they need servicing vary.

Quartz does not last longer than automatic watches. Under the right care and maintenance, an automatic watch can last forever. In contrast, a quartz watch will last until the movement dies.

When comparing the movement of a quartz and automatic watch, there are some striking indications of why an automatic movement can last longer than a quartz.

Firstly, quartz is mass-produced, and engineers have managed to make the production very cost-efficient. You can get 2 quartz movement from one of the largest producers of quartz movement for only $5 on amazon. Keep in mind that this is a retail price, and Miyota is one of the most used and reputable movement producers in the world. These watches are made to be disposable and easily replaceable.

Furthermore, a quartz movement has a coil in the movement. This coil is what drives the stepping motor. The coil is made of copper wire which is thinner than a human hair. These coils are known to easily break under a battery change between a gentle touch from a fingernail or screwdriver is enough to break the wire.

Lastly, a quartz movement is made of electronic components. If moisture were to come in contact with the electronic components, the watch would die. To make the watch run again, a replacement movement must be found. From here, it is technically not the same watch anymore. Only dial of the watch, and the case is the same.

What Is The Difference Between Quartz And Automatic?

The difference between a quartz watch and an automatic is the movement. A quartz watch is made of electronic components and very few mechanical parts. In contrast, an automatic is made of only mechanical components.

In simple terms, a quartz watch is driven by a battery.

A quartz movement is driven by current, which is run through a quartz crystal. Running current through a quartz crystal makes very reliable vibrations. The quartz crystal vibrates 32768 times per second. The vibrations is picked up by a microchip circuit that turns the vibrations into regular electric pulses, which converts the many vibrations to one vibration per second.

In simple terms, an automatic watch is driven by force from the mainspring.

An automatic watch works from only mechanical components. The automatic movement is made of over 100 parts, where complicated watches can exceed 200 different parts. The automatic movement works by having the mainspring wound. The mainspring is wound by turning the crown or “automatically” when wearing the watch.

Do Quartz Watches Need Servicing?

Quartz watches need servicing and maintenance, just like an automatic watch or a car. Some quartz watches are made of electrical components and plastics. While those watches don’t need lubrication, they need occasional battery changes and water resistance maintenance. If the quartz watch is of higher quality, it has mechanical parts instead of plastics. In such a case, it needs lubrication.

The recommended service interval for quartz is dependent on the quality of the watch, but typically within a 5-10 year interval.

Jonas Henriksen

AllInWatches is founded by Jonas, who has a great interest in mechanical watches. All aspects of manual and automatic (mechanical) watches is a big interest and have been a passion since 2015, where the first automatic watch was purchased. Seeing the transparent case back and discovering the heritage of watchmaking piqued an interest in horology.

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