Quartz vs Automatic Watch: What’s the Difference

Written By: Vahid Moradi

With the watch movement of time, nothing keeps you more on track than a quality-made mechanical timepiece. In addition to their practicality, they also serve as a time-honored symbol of style and craftsmanship.

Within the watch world and for any watch collector, there are two primary categories that a watch enthusiast will flock to quartz watches, characterized by their battery-operated and spring mechanics, and automatic watches, which use a motor weight to power the timepieces and are oftentimes more valuable.

Ultimately, the watch you choose to wear on your wrist comes down to personal preference; however, we’ve created this guide to save you time as you navigate through each variety.

The Perks of An Automatic Watch

When you shop for a luxury watch, you’ll find that most options are either automatic or mechanical. Automatic watches are a type of mechanical watch that power themselves. While a mechanical watch gets its juice from a hand-wound spring, an automatic watch uses its wearer’s automatic movement to keep its hands ticking.

The most glaring benefit of an automatic watch is its convenience. There is no need for watch repair to periodically wind a spring or replace a battery. By just being worn, an automatic watch remains functional, powered through the wearer’s movement.

This technology, though, is not what makes an automatic watch more expensive. In fact, there exists today a wide range of automatic watches under $500, just as there are mechanical watches north of $15,000. Luxury automatic watches hit their lofty price tags due to the level of quality and craftsmanship that exists in their construction.

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How Do Automatic Watches Work?

Automatic watches are comprised of a complex set of gears, springs, and rotating weights that keep the hands ticking. The intricate nature of an automatic watch’s construction requires a much more elaborate, labor-intensive manufacturing process. Especially when it comes to luxury watches, automatics are usually synonymous with meticulous, hand-crafted excellence.

The self-powered nature of an automatic watch begins with your everyday wrist movements, such as swinging your arms or driving your car:

  • Step One – The rotor, stimulated by your movements, winds the mainspring.
  • Step Two – The energy stored in the mainspring is transferred through the gear train into a mechanism called the escapement.
  • Step Three – The escapement releases incremental impulses to the balance wheel, maintaining its oscillations and keeping the watch in accurate time.
  • Step Four – Each of the balance wheel’s oscillations move the wheels of the gear train, stimulating the automatic watch movement of the watch’s hands.

It's this elaborate assembly line that makes automatic watches a feat of engineering and therefore revered by any watch enthusiast.

The Perks of A Quartz Watch

Just because automatic watches dominate the luxury watch market doesn’t mean that quartz watches don’t have their place. In fact, quartz models are, in some ways, even more functional and practical than automatic watches. 

Powered by a battery, quartz watches get their name from a tiny quartz crystal cut in the shape of a tuning fork.1 Contrary to automatic watches, quartz watches have a far more streamlined construction that can easily be mass-produced. Benefits of quartz watches include:

  • Battery life – Their batteries often last around 25 months, whereas an automatic watch usually won’t be able to reserve power for more than a week.
  • Accuracy – They are inaccurate, on average, by only 15 seconds per month, while automatic watches are usually inaccurate by around 25 seconds per day.
  • Affordability – They are more affordable and replaceable, making them more suitable for sports. 
  • Reliability – The reliability of their time-keeping means they remain accurate in extreme conditions, such as on mountain peaks or below the ocean.
  • Low-maintenance – They require less maintenance due to their simple construction.

Due to their affordability, reliability, and ease of maintenance, the best quartz watches are an ideal choice for new watch collectors or veterans looking for a daily driver.

Choosing The Best Fit For You

There’s no clear-cut winner between automatic and quartz watches. At the end of the day, it comes down to what you want to get out of that watch.

Where automatic watches reign supreme is the inherent luxury and longevity that comes with their construction. Consequently, automatic watches are meant to last forever, and they’re built with materials that can deliver on that promise. Watches like IWC Schaffhausen's Portugieser and Portofino are revered classics that can be passed down from generation to generation.

Of course, in order to maintain your automatic timepiece’s heirloom status, regular maintenance is required. Every three to five years, expect to pay up to $500 for standard servicing.2 On top of that, such a luxurious watch must be treated with a great amount of care.

Quartz watches are much lower-maintenance. As a result of their simpler mechanics, they do not require such regular servicing. On top of that, they are often built to withstand tough conditions. That’s not to say quartz watches cannot be luxury watches, though. The De Ville Prestige and Constellation watch by Omega are beautiful timepieces that can impress in the most formal of settings.

Fine-Tune Your Collection With CJ Charles 

Choosing a luxury watch is a big decision. When you spend a meaningful sum, you want to make sure the return is just as meaningful. CJ Charles Jewelers takes pride in delivering just that. When you consult with us, whether for an automatic or quartz, we make sure you end up with a luxurious piece that fits your needs. We are also here to answer your questions whether it’s what is a tourbillon or what are the best GMT watches. Whatever needs you have, we are here to satisfy them.


Written By: Vahid Moradi

Vahid Moradi’s lifelong passion, dedication, and commitment for the jewelry industry led him to become the respected owner of CJ Charles Jewelers in 1988. From that moment, Moradi’s single focus in business was to become recognized as the pinnacle of value and world-class quality in the his Community. Over 34 years later, CJ Charles continues to grow and thrive as a successful, family-owned business that consistently provides exceptional service to all their clientele.


  1. Gear Patrol. Everything You Need to Know Before Buying a Quartz Watch. https://www.gearpatrol.com/watches/a486352/quartz-watch/
  2. The Watch Pages. How Often Does Your Watch Need to be Serviced? https://www.thewatchpages.com/how-often-does-your-watch-need-to-be-serviced/

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