Hamilton’s Ultimate Men’s Watch Guide Part II
Please feel free to refer to Hamilton’s Ultimate Men’s Watch Guide Part 1, where we discuss types and styles of men’s watches popular in 2021. We also provide a handy list of time-keeping terminology. Please see below for a detailed synopsis of the various types of movements and display cases. Find out everything you need to know before purchasing your first or your fiftieth luxury timepiece, or if you are looking for the perfect gift for that special man in your life.
This is what literally makes the watch tick, also known as caliber. Movements can be mechanical (automatic or hand-wound) or quartz (battery powered). The movement is considered the “heart” of the watch. We could write a blog simply on this topic alone, so we will try to sum it up in the simplest terms.
The movement encompasses the sum of the parts that make the watch work. This includes the sweep of the watch’s hands around its face to the way its inner parts create that effect. There are five basic types of movement: mechanical, automatic, quartz, kinetic, and solar/eco-powered.
Manual movement is mechanical and made up of only parts that have to be wound by hand. These types of watches are appreciated for their fine craftsmanship and superior design. Some luxury watch brands still produce mechanical watches but given the technical engineering involved, they can cost quite a bit more than automatic and quartz watches.
Pros & Cons of Mechanical Movement
- A badge of honor for watch connoisseurs everywhere.
- Unique. Exclusive. Valuable. Collectible.
- Doesn’t require a battery.
- When properly cared for, it can last a lifetime.
- Needs to be serviced every five years and you have to manually wind it.
- Not recommended to be worn playing sports or in extreme weather conditions.
- Not as accurate as an automatic or quartz watch.
There are quite a few differences between an automatic and a hand-winding mechanical watch. Unlike the mechanical watch, an automatic watch self-winds using the movement of the wearer’s wrist. The other main difference is in a rotor that acts as a crown by automatically beginning the winding process. The rotor is shaped like a half-moon or half-circle and swings 360 degrees as the wrist moves. It also has a crown in case it needs to be manually wound.
This type of movement is incredibly trendy and is used by a wide variety of watches from military-style to luxury watches. Like mechanical watches, the accuracy can be a bit off. In fact, it is recommended that they be worn by generally active men, as it needs a certain amount of body movement to maintain enough power to keep an accurate time.
Not to be confused with a chronograph, which is basically a stopwatch, a chronometer is essentially a precise automatic/mechanical watch; it resolves inaccurate timekeeping. It is the Swiss standard for movement reliability and precision. It’s an accurate and certified mechanical or automatic watch, not a movement itself. Only watches that pass the certification procedure can be called chronometers.
Pros & Cons of Automatic Movement
Interestingly, many of the pros and cons for automatic movement are exactly the same for mechanical watches.
- Charming. One-of-a-Kind. Collectible
- Doesn’t require a battery.
- Exclusive. A watch connoisseur’s dream given its complicated mechanism.
- Loses 5 to 15 seconds per day.
- Need to be fairly active to keep it running precisely.
- Not recommended for playing sports or extreme weather conditions.
Mass produced, insanely popular, and affordable, the quartz-driven watch was introduced in 1969 by Seiko. This type of movement is the most precise available on the market today. This is how a quartz watch works: it is powered by a battery that sends an electric signal via microchip circuit to a small quartz crystal that then vibrates 32,768 times per second at a precise frequency. A stepper motor or the electrical circuit then measures the vibrations and converts them into a single pulse every second which makes the watch’s hands move.
The Atomic Watch
This type of watch gets regular updates through radio waves and synchronizes to the atomic clock.
Pros & Cons of Quartz Movement
- Low maintenance and easy to use.
- Most accurate time-keeper of all movements.
- More durable than automatic or mechanical.
- Not as unique or interesting as automatic or mechanical.
- Must replace batteries every few years.
Introduced by Seiko in 1988, a kinetic watch, also known as auto-quartz, possesses a long-lasting rechargeable battery and runs on quartz timekeeping. They are essentially a hybrid of quartz and automatic movements. Instead of using a battery to generate electricity, kinetic watches rely on the constant motion of the wearer’s arms/wrists like automatic watches.
This type of movement isn’t as popular and is more expensive than a regular quartz movement watch. In fact, Seiko is the only manufacturer of this type of watch. A kinetic watch hibernates or sleeps to conserve energy if not worn for 72 hours. However, all you have to do is give it a little shake and it immediately returns to the correct time and date. A kinetic watch, much like the quartz, is an accurate time keeper.
Pros & Cons of Kinetic Movement
- Unique for quartz/automatic.
- No battery is required.
- Accurate time-keeper.
- Not a very wide variety.
- Stops working if not worn.
Solar Powered Movement
A solar-powered watch is essentially a quartz movement watch, but it has a rechargeable battery instead of a charged battery. The solar watch’s battery can receive energy via all forms of light – artificial and natural. When it is regularly exposed to light, it is constantly being recharged, allowing the watch to run continuously.
However, how often it needs to be exposed to light depends on the model and the capacity of the rechargeable battery. Generally, it can last anywhere between two to ten months without being exposed to light. The rechargeable battery or cell can last for at least ten years, if not more. There are quite a few types of watches that use solar power from classy dress watches to military and pilot watches that work in extreme weather conditions. Seiko, Casio, and Citizen are the leading manufacturers of solar-powered watches and they are quite affordable.
Pros & Cons of Solar-Powered Movement
- Eco-friendly & low maintenance.
- Charges with any type of light.
- Rechargeable battery rarely needs replacing.
- Extremely accurate timekeeper.
- While the battery doesn’t need replacing often, it does need to be replaced eventually.
- Slightly more expensive than quartz watches.
Spring Drive Movement
In 2005, Seiko released the spring drive movement which is basically a hybrid of both mechanical and quartz watches, similar to kinetic. Unlike the kinetic watch, the spring drive’s energy source has a mainspring that stores energy. These watches use a regulator that uses quartz signals instead of an escapement and balance wheel like mechanical movements. This type of watch is only produced by Seiko at the moment, and they are quite expensive.
Pros & Cons of Spring Drive Movement
- Accurate and precise.
- Long power reserve.
- Unique. New Technology.
- Only produced by one manufacturer.
Watch Display Type
The watch display type is basically the face of your timepiece. There are essentially six different types of dials that differ in appearance – analog, digital, chronograph, hybrid, tactile, and touchscreen. We won’t be covering tactile and touchscreen as we’re not dealing with smart watches in this particular blog.
The most traditional display type, analog dials have an hour hand, a minute hand, and more often than not, a second’s hand and a date window. Essentially, it is the traditional clock face you learned how to tell time from.
Pros & Cons of an Analog Watch
- A welcome change from screens.
- Unique yet traditional.
- Nice aesthetics, especially with formal wear.
- Not as easy to tell time on as a digital watch.
- Fewer bells and whistles.
Generally only available via quartz watches, a digital watch has an LCD screen, and the time is indicated by numerical digits rather than hands on a dial. Extremely precise and one of the least expensive on the market, digital watches also often have a fluorescent background so you can see the time in the dark. Digital watches can also feature additional functions to measure distance, your temperature, and heart rate.
Pros & Cons of a Digital Watch
- Easy to read.
- Accurate. Inexpensive.
- Convenient & able to provide different types of measurements.
- Can be read in the dark
- Not especially unique.
- A screen.
Hybrid watches combine both analog and digital dials. The digital display takes up only a small portion of the watch’s face and leaves room for the classic analog face for a much better aesthetic without losing the additional functions that come along with a digital watch. For those that like the classic appeal of an analog display but still want to be able to set an alarm, see the time in the dark, and get the date, day, and time in an instant – a hybrid watch is the perfect choice.
Pros & Cons of a Hybrid Watch
- Best of both worlds.
- Aesthetic appeal of an analog.
- Additional functions of a digital.
- Can be a bit overwhelming.
- Unsuitable for formal occasions.
So, there you have it, while there is still more to cover, at least you have a good understanding of the basics of a man’s watch. You are on your way to becoming a horology expert. Whether you are buying one for yourself, or buying a gift for a man that is near and dear to you, you’ve come to the right place. A man’s watch never goes out of style; it is always on trend. While smart watches may be ultra-functional, a classic time piece exudes an old-school sense of style that goes along with a tailored suit and a slick pair of shoes. It’s important to note that there are certain brands of watches that cannot be bought online. For more advice, feel free to come into one of Hamilton’s locations to speak with our staff.