If you are new to watchmaking, you should know the difference between quartz and automatic movements. Mechanical watches have more accuracy and are much more durable. For this reason, they are ideal for people who want to be accurate.

Unlike an automatic watch, a mechanical watch's movement is manual. While most of the time it's simple and requires no manual winding, some watches are more complex and require manual winding. A mechanical watch has an open case back, while an automatic one doesn't. Both types have their benefits and drawbacks. Ultimately, a mechanical watch is more accurate than an automatic one. Listed below are some of the main differences between the two types of watches.

Close-up Shot of Black Skeleton Automatic Watch
Close-up Shot of Black Skeleton Automatic Watch​​

Should I choose a watch based on its movement?

Most people choose their own watch for their style. But once you understand how watches work you are not going to be able to overlook the fact that they really work. 

Both mechanical and automatic movements have different advantages, quirks, and special appeals. You choose what watches will suit the needs of your lifestyle.

Mechanical watches are more accurate than automatic watches

  1. There are a few differences between mechanical and automatic watches. Automatic watches wind their own winding mechanisms, while manual watches wind manually. Manual watches require a person to wind them daily, while automatic watches only require periodic winding

    This difference makes automatic and manual watches different from each other. If you're serious about accuracy, you'll probably want to purchase an automatic watch.

  2. Automatic watches have the added benefit of being more accurate over the long term. Mechanical watches are also more durable than automatic watches, which need to be wound on a daily basis. But you don't have to worry about the mechanical watch going off mid-trip, as battery-operated watches do.

  3. Mechanical watches operate with a coiled spring, which is known as the mainspring. This spring then releases energy through a gear train to an escapement, which has an oscillating wheel and a balance spring. 

    The latter is what regulates how much energy is released from the stored energy. In manual watches, the mainspring must be wound manually by turning the crown. This process must be repeated as many times as the power reserve allows.

  4. Mechanical watches can be quite expensive but are also better-performing than automatics in many aspects. Mechanical watches have a classic, old-world charm that can make them excellent daily companions. Quartz watches, on the other hand, have a surprisingly low price tag. They also require less maintenance.

Manual-wind watches are the oldest type of watch movement

A manual wind watch is one of the oldest types of watch movements. It is wound manually by turning the crown of the watch and the mainspring. 

This type of watch requires regular winding, so it is often purchased at a very conservative price. Before winding a manual watch, make sure that the crown is tensioned. 

If it is not, you may cause internal damage. Make sure to wind it on a neutral surface to avoid damage to the watch.

Longines Master Automatic Watch
  • Manual-wind watches are known for their beautifully crafted gears and complex springs. These types of watches have a case back so the wearer can view and admire the movement

    Many watch connoisseurs and watchmakers prefer manual wind watches, which are typically found in collectible and expensive timepieces.

  • The most basic type of watch movement is a mechanical one. These watch movements make use of interconnected gears that turn at a specific rate to keep the watch ticking. 

    This type of watch movement is also the oldest. However, there is no definite answer as to which type of movement is best for your watch.

  • manual watch requires daily winding, and may even require a power reserve. These types of watches are more accurate than quartz watches. 

    However, they are more costly and require regular servicing. A mechanical movement is a labor-intensive type of watch movement but can last for many years. 

    Manual-wind watches, on the other hand, have a much simpler design with less moving parts than their automatic counterparts.

  • Abraham-Louis Perrelet, a man from Le Locle in France, was one of the first people to develop a self-winding pocket watch. His work is based on the idea of an oscillating weight and was published in the Geneva Society of Arts in 1777

    Another watchmaker, Abraham-Louis Breguet, was also interested in this idea and designed a self-winding watch using a barrel remontoir. Eventually, these watches were mass-produced.

  • Mechanical manual-wind watches have a mainspring powered by a spiral spring. This energy is stored in the mainspring, which turns the gears and hands of the watch. 
    The mainspring slowly releases this energy through gears and springs to power the watch.

Mechanical vs quartz watch movements

The text of a watch dial will often show you the specific piece and sometimes even the type of movement driving the watch. Think of watch's movements as the engine that controls the movements of hands, and their day, and time windows. 

The watch movement generally consists of two major categories: Mechanical (automatic wind) and Quartz (batterie-operated). Mechanical watch movements operate through rotating gears. 

It's a tiny machine with no electrical power and the quartz watch uses batteries that vibrate small crystals to generate power.

Close-up Shot the Mechanism of Mechanical Watch
Close-up Shot the Mechanism of Mechanical Watch​​

Mechanical watches have an open case back

The evolution of mechanical watches is similar to that of the classic pocket watch. In the 1800s, the first wristwatch was created by Patek Philippe. Pocket watch owners would pop open the case backs of their pocket watches to admire the mechanism. These watches were also subjected to rough handling.

Mechanical watches have an open case back so you can see inside the gear train. These types of watches are typically thicker than automatic watches because of the complexity of the mechanical movement. The open case back of a mechanical watch is a sign that the watchmaker is proud of the craftsmanship of their watch.

Mechanical watches can be repaired, but they tend to be more expensive. They are also more susceptible to magnetism, which can damage the hairspring. They also need regular servicing to ensure they are running smoothly. However, regular servicing can cost as much as $450. This means that a mechanical watch requires more care than an automatic one.

Mechanical watches have a lot of intricate machinery and require special tools to repair. Because they require such high levels of engineering, mechanical watches are often more accurate than automatic watches. They also make for stunning heirlooms when properly maintained. And unlike automatic watches, they do not need batteries. Rather, they run 100% on their own. Mechanical watches are also usually more refined than automatic ones.

Another difference between an automatic and a mechanical watch is the way they wind. A mechanical watch's mainspring winds by a series of small gears. These gears transfer the energy from the mainspring to the escapement. The escapement then keeps the movement ticking. While the mainspring of an automatic watch is one single piece, the mainspring of a mechanical watch can have up to eleven individual barrels.

If you are looking for the best watch for your style and budget, mechanical watches are the way to go. They are a symbol of precision, science, and man's ingenuity. They are perfect for special occasions and all of life's important moments. And they will keep running smoothly for many years.

Automatic watches do not need to be wound manually

One of the biggest differences between a manual watch and an automatic watch is that the latter does not require manual winding. Automatic watches wind themselves using a small battery, while manual wind watches use a barrel or tightly wound steel spring. In either case, the power from the spring is transferred to a balance wheel and pallet fork, which rotate the hands.

Choosing an automatic watch is a wise choice for many reasons. First of all, it offers convenience while wearing it. A watch that requires winding does not need to be taken out of your pocket or purse, reducing the chances of losing it. It also avoids visual distractions that can arise when winding manually.

An automatic watch can last up to 48 hours without the need for manual winding. However, it is recommended that you avoid sports that require continuous arm or hand movement, as these can interfere with the mechanism. While an automatic watch will not need to be wound manually, it is still a good idea to keep it on your wrist.

watchmaker replaces battery in quartz watch
Quartz ​​movement
Mechanical (Automatic) movement
​​Mechanical (Automatic) movement


  • Another important distinction between automatic and manual movements is how they get energy. The former relies on the main spring for power while the latter relies on your body's motion to wind itself. 

    A mechanical watch also requires no batteries, making it an environmentally friendly option. Automatic watches do not require daily winding, but periodic winding may be needed to maintain accuracy.

  • Manual-wind watches require you to wind the watch manually every morning or evening. They typically have a power reserve of around forty hours, with some higher-end watches being able to last as long as 70 hours

    Normally, manually-wind watches should be wound at least 30 times, and most models will last for decades if properly cared for.


If you're interested in purchasing a watch, it's important to know the difference between a mechanical and an automatic watch. Mechanical watches are more accurate and durable, while automatic watches are more convenient. Ultimately, the best watch for you depends on your personal style and budget.