Automatic vs. Quartz: A Comprehensive Comparison Guide

The choice between quartz and automatic watches is ultimately a matter of personal preference, as each type offers distinct advantages. 

Quartz watches are prized for their accuracy and affordability, requiring little maintenance. In contrast, automatic watches, driven by the wearer’s movement, are revered for their craftsmanship and the perfect fusion of tradition and mechanical innovation. 

Our detailed guide delves into the subtleties of both types, assisting you in making an informed decision that aligns with your lifestyle and preferences. 

Automatic Watch vs. Quartz Comparison Table

When comparing automatic and quartz watches, several factors, such as accuracy, maintenance, price, and more, come into play. Here’s a brief comparison of the key aspects of both types of watches:

 

Automatic

Quartz

Power Source

Wearer’s movement or self-winding

Battery 

Weight

Heavy 

Light

Price

Tends to be more expensive

Tends to be more affordable

Accuracy

Accurate to within +/- 150 to 300 seconds (or 2.5 to 5 minutes) per month.

Typically accurate to within about +/- 15 seconds per month.

Reliability 

They should be serviced every few years to ensure optimal performance and longevity. 

Failure to replace a dead watch battery can sometimes lead to battery leakage, damaging the watch’s movement.

Power reserve

Basic automatic movements might offer a power reserve of around 40 hours, which means the watch will stop running if not worn or wound within roughly a day and a half.

Typically last between two to five years, depending on the watch’s specific features.

Maintenance 

Requires more maintenance

Low maintenance

Size 

Comes in various sizes

Comes in various sizes

Origin

1770s

1920s

Quartz and automatic or mechanical watches present distinctively different experiences, each with its advantages. Quartz watches stand out for their precision, affordability, and low maintenance, making them ideal for those seeking practicality. 

On the other hand, with their intricate mechanics and rich history, mechanical or automatic watches appeal to watch enthusiasts who value tradition and craftsmanship. As a potential buyer, consider what features align with your lifestyle and preferences to choose the perfect timepiece.

Automatic

Automatic or mechanical watches, also known as self-winding watches, are powered by the motion of the wearer’s wrist. These timepieces have mechanical movement, so they do not require a battery. Instead, they rely on a mainspring that stores and releases energy as needed.

How Does It Work?

When an automatic watch is worn, the wearer’s movements cause a weighted rotor to rotate. This rotor is connected to the mainspring via a series of gears, and as the rotor turns, it winds the mainspring. 

The energy in the mainspring is transferred through the watch’s gear train, regulating the timekeeping mechanism. As long as the timepiece is worn regularly, it will continue to wind and maintain accurate time.

Pros and Cons of Automatic Watches

Pros:

  • Environmentally friendly, as no battery replacement is needed
  • Holds sentimental value for many watch enthusiasts due to its craftsmanship and intricate design
  • Greater longevity, as mechanical movements can outlast quartz movements with proper care and maintenance

Cons:

  • Typically higher in cost compared to quartz watches
  • Requires regular wear or manual winding to keep running
  • More susceptible to weathering, which is common to mechanical timepieces
  • Generally less accurate than quartz watches, with an accuracy of about +/-15 seconds a day.

Best Luxury Automatic Watches

1. Patek Philippe Nautilus – White Gold Bezel, Blue Dial, Ref. 5811/1G-001

Patek Philippe Nautilus- White Gold, Blue Dial ref. 5811_1G-001
  • Retail Price: S$99,368
  • Market Average: S$194,967
  • Secondary Market Dealer: S$231,892

The Patek Philippe Nautilus, Ref. 5811/1G-001 features a sophisticated design, with a white gold case and a beautiful blue dial. The watch is powered by Patek Philippe’s Calibre 26-330 S C, a highly accurate and reliable automatic movement. The Nautilus is known for its durability, water resistance, and refined elegance, making it an excellent choice for a luxury automatic watch.

  • Production Year: 2022
  • Case Size: 41mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Blue
    • Bracelet: White Gold
    • Bezel: White Gold
  • Function: Time, Date
  • Mechanism: Automatic, Calibre 26-330 S C, 45-Hour Power Reserve

Investing in Patek Philippe Nautilus, Ref. 5811/1G-001 is an excellent decision if you appreciate luxury automatic timepieces. This model holds significant value owing to Patek Philippe’s prestige and reputation for superb craftsmanship. Its unique design and limited availability increase demand among collectors and enthusiasts, potentially driving its value.

About

The Patek Philippe Nautilus, Ref. 5811/1G-001 is an extraordinary timepiece that embodies the pinnacle of luxury and craftsmanship. Equipped with a self-winding movement, the Nautilus ensures precise timekeeping. With its timeless appeal, limited availability, and association with the prestigious Patek Philippe brand, the Ref. 5811/1G-001 is a remarkable investment that holds significant value and captures the attention of discerning watch connoisseurs.


2. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph – Steel Bezel, Blue Dial, Ref. 26240ST.OO.1320ST.01

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph Ref. 26240ST.OO.1320ST.01
  • Retail Price: S$98,071
  • Market Average: S$94,360
  • Secondary Market Dealer: S$104,835

Another exceptional luxury automatic watch is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph, Ref. 26240ST.OO.1320ST.01. This stunning watch features a stainless-steel case and bracelet with an iconic octagonal bezel and a “Grande Tapisserie” dial. The in-house caliber 4401 movement powers the timepiece, offering precise timekeeping and a reliable chronograph function..

  • Production Year: 2022
  • Case Size: 41mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Blue
    • Bracelet: Steel
    • Bezel: Steel
  • Function: Flyback Chronograph, Hours, Minutes, Small Seconds, Date
  • Mechanism: Automatic/Self-winding, Calibre 4401, 70-Hour Power Reserve

Investing in Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph, Ref. 26240ST.OO.1320ST.01 could be a wise decision from a financial perspective. Audemars Piguet, especially the Royal Oak series, is recognized worldwide for its unique design, exceptional craftsmanship, and high-quality materials. This reference is popular and in demand, potentially holding its value or appreciating over time due to limited availability and market desirability.

About

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph, Ref. 26240ST.OO.1320ST.01 is an iconic and sought-after timepiece that epitomizes luxury and style. Part of the renowned Royal Oak collection, this model features a stainless steel bezel and bracelet with a distinctive octagonal bezel. The stunning blue dial complements the sporty yet sophisticated design, while the chronograph function adds functionality to the watch.


3. Vacheron Constantin Overseas – Steel Bezel, Blue Dial, Ref. 4500V/110A-B128

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Ref. 4500V_110A-B128
  • Retail Price: S$40,255
  • Market Average: S$40,215
  • Secondary Market Dealer: S$47,724

For those seeking a more versatile luxury timepiece, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas, Ref. 4500V/110A-B128 is an excellent choice. This automatic watch has a stainless-steel case and bracelet, with an easily interchangeable strap system. The Caliber 5100 movement ensures precision and reliability, while the watch’s design is both sporty and elegant. The Overseas is a perfect blend of form and function, suitable for any occasion.

  • Production Year: 2022
  • Case Size: 41mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Blue
    • Bracelet: Steel
    • Bezel: Steel
  • Function: Time, Date
  • Mechanism: Automatic, Calibre 5100, 60-Hour Power Reserve

Investing in a Vacheron Constantin Overseas, Ref. 4500V/110A-B128 could be a prudent choice due to the watch’s intrinsic and potential monetary value. Vacheron Constantin, one of the oldest luxury watch manufacturers, is globally esteemed for its quality, craftsmanship, and prestige attached to its name.

About

The Vacheron Constantin Overseas, Ref. 4500V/110A-B128 is a remarkable timepiece that combines luxury, versatility, and craftsmanship. This model from the Overseas collection showcases Vacheron Constantin’s commitment to excellence in watchmaking. With its stainless steel case, bracelet, and elegant blue dial, the Overseas exudes a refined and timeless aesthetic.


Quartz

Quartz watches were first introduced in the 1920s and have become popular among many watch enthusiasts. These timepieces use a quartz crystal to measure time, known for its accuracy and reliability. Quartz watches, which also paved the way for automatic quartz watches, are generally more affordable than automatic movement watches and require less maintenance.

How Does It Work?

Quartz movement watches operate using batteries as their primary power source. The battery delivers an electric current through the quartz crystal, making it oscillate at a precise, stable frequency. 

This oscillation is then converted into timekeeping by the watch’s circuitry and displayed on the watch’s face. The consistent oscillation of the quartz crystal ensures that quartz watches maintain their accuracy of about +/- 15 seconds a month.

Pros and Cons of Quartz Watches

Pros:

  • Tends to be more affordable than their automatic counterparts.
  • Typically displays a higher level of accuracy compared to automatic watches.
  • Due to fewer internal components, quartz watches are often lighter in weight than automatic watches.
  • Requires less upkeep, as they do not need winding, and battery replacements are typically needed only every few years.

Cons:

  • Battery replacements are required periodically, making them slightly less environmentally friendly and potentially inconvenient.
  • Quartz watches do not have the intricate, handcrafted mechanisms found in automatic watches, which some collectors appreciate.
  • Some watch enthusiasts consider quartz watches less prestigious than automatic watches due to their lower price and mass production.

Quartz watches offer several advantages, including affordability, accuracy, and low maintenance requirements. However, they may have different prestige and mechanical artistry than automatic watches.

Best Luxury Quartz Watches

1. Breitling Endurance Pro – Plastic Bezel, Black Dial, Ref. X82310D31B1S1

Breitling Endurance Pro Ref. X82310D31B1S1
  • Retail Price: S$4,271
  • Market Average: S$3,024
  • Secondary Market Dealer: S$3,530

The Breitling Endurance Pro Ref. X82310D31B1S1 is a high-performance luxury quartz watch for athletes and adventurers. With its lightweight case made of Breitlight®, it offers exceptional durability and resistance to scratches, corrosion, and magnetism. The watch also features a chronograph and is water resistant up to 100 meters deep, making it ideal for various sporting and outdoor activities.

  • Production Year: 2022
  • Case Size: 44mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Black
    • Bracelet: Rubber
    • Bezel: Plastic
  • Function: Chronograph, Stopwatch Functions
  • Mechanism: Quartz, Caliber 82

Considering an investment in the Breitling Endurance Pro, Ref. X82310D31B1S1 could be a smart move. This particular model comes from a brand with a robust reputation for creating high-quality, precise, and durable timepieces. As part of Breitling’s Professional collection, the Endurance Pro combines an athletic aesthetic with superior functionality, which appeals to sports enthusiasts and watch collectors alike.

About

The Breitling Endurance Pro, Ref. X82310D31B1S1 is a dynamic, lightweight sports watch that perfectly balances performance and style. This model features a durable and robust Breitlight® case designed with endurance athletes in mind, offering exceptional strength and resistance. The watch is powered by a precise SuperQuartz™ movement, ensuring reliable timekeeping.


2. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra – Steel Bezel, Mother of Pearl Dial, Ref. 220.10.28.60.54.001

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Ref. 220.10.28.60.54.001
  • Retail Price: S$4,165
  • Market Average: S$2,680
  • Secondary Market Dealer: S$4,669

The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 220.10.28.60.54.001 is a versatile, stylish, and reliable luxury quartz watch. Its elegant design and impressive water resistance of up to 150 meters make it an excellent choice for formal occasions and recreational activities. The watch features a durable stainless steel case and bracelet, with a beautiful mother-of-pearl dial adorned with diamond hour markers.

  • Production Year: 2023
  • Case Size: 28mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Mother of Pearl
    • Bracelet: Steel
    • Bezel: Steel
  • Function: Hours, Minutes
  • Mechanism: Quartz, Caliber Omega 4061

The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra, Ref. 220.10.28.60.54.001, offers a potential investment opportunity that combines elegance, performance, and history. Its affiliation with the renowned Omega brand and the Seamaster’s reputation for exceptional durability and precision enhance its appeal. This specific model from the Aqua Terra line combines the Seamaster’s nautical heritage with a modern and stylish design, which could further increase its desirability.

About

The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra, Ref. 220.10.28.60.54.001, is a sophisticated and versatile timepiece that combines elegance and functionality effortlessly. With its classic and timeless design, this model from the Aqua Terra collection showcases Omega’s attention to detail and craftsmanship. The watch features a blend of stainless steel and 18K Sedna gold, lending it a refined and luxurious appeal.


3. TAG Heuer Formula 1 Quartz – Ceramic Bezel, Grey Dial, Ref. CAZ1011.BA0843

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Quartz Ref. CAZ1011.BA0843
  • Retail Price: S$4,020
  • Market Average: S$1,614
  • Secondary Market Dealer: S$2,963

The classic TAG Heuer Formula 1 Quartz CAZ1011.BA0843 is a sophisticated and sporty luxury timepiece inspired by motorsports. Its sturdy stainless steel case and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal ensure durability and long-lasting performance. Additionally, the quartz watch moves with a tachymeter scale, chronograph system, and a water resistance of up to 200 meters, making it perfect for the racing enthusiast.

  • Production Year: 2023
  • Case Size: 43mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Grey
    • Bracelet: Steel
    • Bezel: Ceramic
  • Function: Chronograph, Date, Tachymeter
  • Mechanism: Quartz

An investment consideration in the TAG Heuer Formula 1 Quartz, Ref. CAZ1011.BA0843 has a strong reputation for reliability and sporty aesthetics, and its affordability compared to other luxury watches increases its accessibility to a wider market. While quartz watches might not typically hold their value as well as mechanical models, the popularity and recognizability of this TAG Heuer series could provide investment stability.

About

The TAG Heuer Formula 1 Quartz, Ref. CAZ1011.BA0843 is a sporty and reliable timepiece that captures the essence of the brand’s motorsport heritage. With its sporty aesthetics and accessible price point, the TAG Heuer Formula 1 Quartz is an excellent choice for individuals seeking a timepiece that embodies functionality and a dynamic look.


FAQs

1. What Is Better Quartz or Automatic Watch?

Quartz watches are well-known for their accuracy; they lose or gain approximately half a second per day, resulting in an accuracy of about +/- 15 seconds a month. This is due to the piezoelectric attributes and frequency stability the quartz movement offers. 

On the other hand, automatic watches are often admired for their intricate craftsmanship and self-winding mechanism, which relies on the wearer’s movement. The choice between quartz and automatic watches often depends on individual preferences and priorities, such as accuracy, style, and maintenance.

2. Which Lasts Longer: Quartz or Automatic?

Both quartz and automatic watches can last for several years if properly maintained. Quartz watches have fewer moving parts, which might result in less erosion over time. However, the battery in a quartz watch needs to be replaced every few years. 

With their mechanical watch movements, automatic watches can last for decades with regular servicing and proper care. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance to ensure the longevity of either type of watch.

3. Are Rolex Watches Automatic or Quartz?

Rolex watches are predominantly automatic, utilizing a self-winding mechanical watch movement. They are known for their precision, robustness, and iconic designs. While Rolex did produce a few quartz models in the past (like the Oysterquartz), the company’s primary focus remains on automatic watches.

4. Why Buy Automatic Watch over Quartz?

Automatic watches, with their intricate mechanical movements, are a testament to the handiwork and skill of watchmakers. The visible gears and oscillating weights provide a visual delight, allowing enthusiasts to connect with the beauty and complexity of the timepiece. 

Additionally, many automatic watches offer various styles and designs, catering to diverse tastes. Ultimately, the allure of owning an automatic watch lies in its ability to blend precise timekeeping with the art of mechanical engineering.

Ultimately, the quartz vs. automatic debate ends when it’s decided based on the personal preference and priorities of the watch buyer.

Final Word

In summary, quartz and automatic watches have unique characteristics that cater to different needs and preferences. Potential buyers must understand these differences and make an informed decision based on their priorities and lifestyle.

Key Takeaways

  • Quartz watches are generally less expensive for buyers. On the other hand, automatic watches can be more costly due to their intricate mechanical parts.
  • Automatic watches require more frequent maintenance and are more likely to break down due to their complex build. Quartz watches require less upkeep, usually only needing a battery replacement every few years.
  • Due to their less-complicated mechanism, quartz watches are more durable and less prone to damage. However, automatic watches are more appreciated for their intricate craftsmanship.

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