What is a Quartz Watch? A Complete Guide to Quartz Movement

Quartz Watch
This complete guide covers everything you need to know about quartz watches. Learn how quartz movement revolutionized watch accuracy and affordability since the 1970s, establishing quartz as the dominant modern watch technology.

Table of Contents


This article will provide a complete guide to quartz watches – a hugely popular type of modern electronic timepiece.

A quartz watch uses a small quartz crystal integrated into an electric circuit to keep precise time. The natural vibration frequency of the quartz crystal gives it very stable and accurate oscillations (32,768 per second!), meaning a quartz watch is extremely accurate compared to old-fashioned mechanical watches.

The clear benefits of quartz movement led to a boom in quartz watches beginning in 1970. By 1978, over 50 million quartz watches were produced worldwide, surpassing mechanical watches in popularity for the first time ever.

Today, well over 90% of modern watches utilize quartz technology for its accuracy, affordability, durability, and convenience. While high-end mechanical watches still exist in the luxury market, quartz dominates the sub-$500 sector.

So if you find yourself shopping for a new watch, chances are you are considering a quartz timepiece. Read on to learn all about the history, movement, and best use-cases for quartz wristwatches in the 21st century.

A Quartz Watch With Leather Straps
A Quartz Watch with Leather Straps

Benefits of Quartz Watches

Quartz watches provide a number of significant advantages over their mechanical and automatic counterparts that have made them the top choice for most consumers since the 1970s. We will examine some of these key strengths in detail, including:

  • Accuracy
  • Affordability
  • Durability
  • Design variety
  • Low maintenance

By highlighting these major areas where quartz excels beyond traditional watch technology, the reasons for its market dominance become clear. Now let’s explore each key benefit further.

  • Accuracy
    The defining benefit of quartz watches is their superior accuracy compared to mechanical watches. The high frequency quartz crystal vibrations act as a very precise timekeeping signal in an electronic circuit, keeping time to within 15 seconds accuracy per month. This is over 20 times more accurate than even high-end mechanical watches.
  • Affordability
    With fewer moving parts and no intricate mechanics, quartz watches are relatively inexpensive to produce. Simple quartz watches can be manufactured for less than $10. Mid-range models with added features range from $50 to $500. This makes quartz watches highly affordable for most consumers.
  • Durability
    With fewer moving parts subject to wear and tear, a quartz movement is very durable, and designed to last years or decades between battery changes. They are shock and vibration resistant as well. Quartz watches don’t require the same delicate care and maintenance as a mechanical watch.
  • Variety
    The versatility of quartz technology allows watch designers the freedom to focus on fashion and style. This had led to an enormous range of shapes, sizes, colors, and designs not feasible with delicate mechanical movements. From elegant dress watches to rugged sports chronographs, quartz powers it all.
  • Low Maintenance
    Aside from infrequent battery replacement, quartz watches require little maintenance compared to the delicate mechanisms of automatic watches. As long as the exterior case and glass are kept clean, a quartz watch will provide years of reliable service.
Inside of Quartz Watch
Inside of Quartz Watch

How Quartz Movement Works

As we discussed earlier, a quartz watch derives its superior accuracy from the use of a vibrating quartz crystal inside the movement. Let’s examine how this functions in more detail.

At the heart of all quartz watches lies the quartz crystal, an electronic component cut to precisely vibrate at 32,768 Hz when electricity is applied. This incredibly consistent and stable vibration rate forms the timekeeping base of quartz movement.

The integrated circuit (IC) of the quartz watch generates electric pulses that excite the quartz crystal into vibration. The vibration then generates return electrical pulses at an exact frequency of 32,768 pulses per second.

These pulses are counted and processed by the circuitry to drive the motor that moves the watch hands. Additional adjustments are made to account for variances in temperature. The resulting time accuracy can be within +/- 10 seconds per year.

This electronic functionality replaces the complex array of gears, springs and escapements required in traditional mechanical watches. By relying on the unvarying vibration rate of quartz crystal, accuracy and reliability is dramatically increased while simplifying watch construction.

Watchmaker is working to replace the battery on an old quartz watch
Watchmaker is working to replace the battery on an old quartz watch

Types of Quartz Movements

When evaluating quartz watches, you will encounter some key terms describing the type and quality of the quartz movement inside. Here we explain the main classifications you may see:

  • Japanese Quartz
    Many mid-range quartz watches contain movements made in Japan, which are mass produced to high standards. Japanese quartz represents an affordable balance of quality and cost for most consumers. These movements will typically employ steps of accuracy regulation to achieve precision on par with costlier Swiss quartz.
  • Swiss Quartz
    At the high end, movements branded as Swiss quartz denote quartz calibers made in Switzerland. Known for watchmaking excellence, Swiss quartz movements undergo more rigorous testing and calibration using advanced equipment and techniques. While pricier, they represent the pinnacle of quartz accuracy and reliability.
  • Luxury Quartz
    Several elite watchmakers produce expensive quartz models ranging into the thousands of dollars. These usually feature added complications like chronographs, moonphase displays, etc beyond just telling time. The movements are painstakingly engineered and tested to achieve exceptional accuracy ratings. The high cost comes from premium materials and workmanship.

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Quartz Watch Movement

Caring For Your Quartz Watch

While very durable and low maintenance compared to mechanical watches, some periodic care and upkeep is still required for a quartz timepiece. Here are key areas to focus on:

  • Battery Replacement
    A replaceable battery powers all quartz watches. Battery life is typically 1-3 years depending on usage and quality. Replacing the battery every 2 years is recommended. Use only new high quality batteries from a watch retailer, not mass retailers.
  • Water Resistance Upkeep
    If labeled as water resistant, occasional reapplication of waterproof gaskets/seals may be needed over time. Gasket replacement by a watchsmith every 3-5 years will retain stated water resistance ratings for worry free wear.
  • Case/Crystal Cleaning
    Regular external cleaning maintains the appearance and integrity of the case and crystal. Use a soft damp cloth or watch cleaning solutions. Avoid submerging non water-resistant models. Harsh chemicals can damage certain materials.
  • Strap Conditioning
    Natural wear from skin oils, water and UV exposure can degrade watch straps over time. Treat leather/silicone/fabric straps with appropriate conditioners to keep supple and prevent tearing around springbar holes.

Where To Buy Quality Quartz Watches

With quartz watches spanning the spectrum from inexpensive fashion pieces to luxury status symbols, where you shop matters. Here are some ideal retailers when seeking out a high quality quartz timepiece:

  • Authorized Dealers
    Brand boutiques and retailers certified as ADs (authorized dealers) by Swiss and Japanese watch manufacturers offer the safest bet for authentic, warrantied quartz watches. While paying MSRP, you are guaranteed a genuine, brand new quartz watch.
  • Online Watch Retailers
    Reputable online watch sellers offer deep discounts on quartz watches across many brands and price points. However, due diligence is required to ascertain dealer credibility and that international warranty policies are intact on grey market purchases. Savings can be substantial.
  • Our Company Website
    As an established ODM/OEM quartz watch producer, our company website https://www.romlicenwatch.com/ offers our catalog of custom designed, high quality quartz fashion watches directly to consumers at factory direct pricing. We control the product sourcing, manufacturing and quality assurance.


We have explored the many advantages of quartz watch technology that catapulted it to dominance in the modern watch industry. With unparalleled accuracy and affordability paired with extreme versatility, quartz movements empower intricate watch designs not feasible with delicate mechanical calibers.

While luxury mechanical watches still possess high cachet for connoisseurs, quartz timepieces deliver on practicality, reliability and cost-effectiveness needed for daily wear. From basic time telling to feature-packed sports chronographs, quartz can fulfill just about any wristwatch need.

With proper periodic care and battery changes, a quality quartz watch will provide a lifetime of accurate and carefree timekeeping on your wrist. And our watch company stands behind manufacturing durable, stylish and affordable quartz watches worthy to accompany you on life’s journey.

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Picture of Romlicen - China Watch Manufacturer

Romlicen - China Watch Manufacturer

Romlicen is a leading custom watch manufacturer in China, specializing in OEM and ODM services. With expertise in crafting men's and women's watches, stainless steel timepieces, and both quartz and mechanical movements, we blend traditional craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology. Our commitment to quality and innovation makes us the preferred partner for watch brands worldwide. For custom watch solutions, contact sales@romlicenwatch.com.