While, for centuries, watchmaking only worked through mechanical movements, the twentieth century saw the emergence of new technologies that allow timekeeping thanks to electricity, all with much more precision. important than its mechanical equivalent. Indeed, the quartz movement will use the electric current to have a precision greater than what can be obtained in a mechanical watch. Moreover, the appearance of Quartz caused a stir in the industry and almost eliminated mechanical movement watches (automatic or manual).

You will find on this page all the information on Quartz movements, the history of this technology, its functioning, or even the different parts found in this electronic caliber.

How a Quartz movement works
Quartz or electronic watches have a quartz oscillator movement. This high-precision caliber makes it possible to operate wristwatches, but also clocks or all other kinds of watches. But how does it work and how does it ensure such precision?

To make a quartz movement watch, two important elements are needed: electric current and a quartz stone which, when subjected to an electric current, will generate mechanical vibrations with a very high frequency of 32 kHz and without variation. Thanks to this, there is only 1 minute difference after a year, or about 1 second per week.

To go into more detail, here is how the Quartz clock and watch movements really work:

A very small and long-lasting battery (several years normally) will supply electrical energy to the entire battery, but mainly to quartz and electronic circuits.
The energy will arrive in a quartz oscillator which will vibrate mechanically thanks to a piezoelectric effect.
The electrical frequency will then be transferred to a frequency divider (also called a trimmer), which will allow the correct frequency to be transferred to the motor.
The electric frequency will then be transformed into a mechanical movement thanks to the stepper motor, the latter providing its force to the train.
As in a mechanical watch, the cogs will allow thanks to a mechanical force to obtain the hours, minutes, seconds, or even other information thanks to the presence of several wheels.
The cogs allow an analog display via hands. It is also possible to have a digital display, via electronic circuit.
Thanks to its fairly simple operation due to electrical circuits, it is possible to have watches working with Quartz for only a few euros, which is simply impossible with a mechanical movement, especially if you want to achieve the same precision. .

The different types of quartz watches and clocks
Using electricity, quartz in watchmaking makes it possible to obtain watches or clocks with different functionalities or types of displays much more easily than in its mechanical equivalent.

It is already possible to have three forms of display:

analog, via hands as in a traditional watch
digital, thanks to a liquid crystal display
analog and digital, to have needles, but also a small screen with different information on the screen.
As this type of movement is easy to manufacture, inexpensive and taking up little space, it is common to integrate other functionalities, including in particular:

Short time measurement with chronograph and countdown
GPS, compass, altitude, etc., very practical for outdoor activities
Temperature or atmospheric pressure, always for those who practice outdoor activities
Date and year
The bell or alarm clock
The other difference can also be found in energy. Instead of having a simple battery that still has to be changed every two to five years, some watchmakers have created two other solutions:

The Autoquartz: thanks to an automatic winding system that can be found in an automatic watch, a rotor that moves with the movement of the wrists will activate a mini generator to transform this force into electricity, which will recharge a battery.
Solar: it is possible to put solar panels on the watch face, these can then recharge the battery, which allows you to always have energy.
Finally, quartz is used in wristwatches as well as in wall clocks.

A short history of quartz in watchmaking
Modern technology and a real revolution when it first appeared in the 20th century, Quartz had an unprecedented impact on this industry by completely changing its face in just a few years. Here is more information on quartz in watchmaking:

The piezoelectric effect of quartz was discovered in 1880 by two physicist brothers, one of whom is very well known: Pierre Curie and Jacques Curie.
In 1927 the first quartz clock was designed by the company Bell Telephone, but it was then the size of a refrigerator.
In 1967, the Swiss Electronic Watch Center (beta 1) and Seiko presented, one after the other, their first quartz watch.
In 1969, Seiko overtook the Swiss and launched the first commercial model, which was called the Seiko Quartz Astron 35 SQ.
In 1970, the Swiss presented their first watch.
In the 1970s and 1980s, quartz became popular very quickly and prices became much lower than those for mechanical watches, which led to a real crisis in the Swiss watch industry.
From the 1980s, mechanical Swiss watchmaking managed to renew itself to offer mechanical models, which brought something other than quartz watches