Ladies Watch Movements Guide: Women's Watches by Mechanisms and Power Sources

Most ladies watch movements are quartz powered by battery but the demand for ladies mechanical timepieces is growing and there are amazing manual and automatic watches for women that look great and excel in function.

The watch movement is the mechanism behind its operation. The type of movement determines how a watch functions, its accuracy/precision in telling time, and the level of involvement and maintenance the watch requires from the wearer.  

Here, find the different types of ladies watch movements explained. Learn what to expect with each mechanism and make an informed choice of watch mechanism. Explore women's watches by internal mechanisms and source of power.

Women's Watches by Movement Type and Source of Power

Guide to Ladies Watch Movements

What Is A Watch Movement?

The movement of a watch is the mechanism behind its operation. The means by which a watch keeps time. It is the engine that makes a watch's hands move to indicate the correct time. It also drives additional functions such as calendars and chronographs in multi-function and complicated watches.

It includes the source of power, how the energy is stored, and how it is transferred and transformed in order to drive the watch.

The term caliber is used to describe the size and features of a specific watch movement or a specific model of a movement. Manufacturers tend to use their own identification systems to name their calibers.

The movement is one of the most important aspects of a watch. Watch manufacturers dedicate a lot of time and effort on the internal mechanism and many watch aficionados agree that the inner mechanism is what defines a masterpiece.

Types of Watch Movements

There are two types of ladies watch movements based on whether a watch needs a battery to operate or is powered by winding: mechanical movements and quartz/electronic movements.

1) Mechanical Ladies Watch Movements

Mechanical movements consist of moving parts. They use a balance wheel to measure time and a spring to store energy. The second hand in a mechanical watch moves in a smooth sweeping motion. Mechanical movements could be automatic or hand-wound:

Hand wound/Manual Mechanical Movements: A mechanical movement that requires manual winding by hand. The wearer must turn the crown (the button used to set the time) periodically, often daily, in order to wind the mainspring and generate the energy to run the watch until the next winding. This is the oldest type of watch movement dating back to the 16th century. 

Automatic Mechanical Watch Movements: A mechanical movement that is self winding. The mainspring is automatically wound by the energy produced by the natural motion of the wearer's wrist. There is no need for manual winding daily. It is a low maintenance mechanical movement. An automatic watch retains its accuracy as long as its worn regularly and may require manual winding if it falls behind especially after a prolonged period without wearing it. Most mechanical watches sold today have automatic movements.

Watch connoisseurs and collectors prefer manual or automatic mechanical watches as these movements represent almost 600 years of refinement, craftsmanship, and expertise. Most traditional and luxury watch makers use mechanical movements.

Mechanical watches are the most expensive (their making is labor intensive) and require servicing typically every 3-5 years. However, they offer superior quality, craftsmanship, and intricacy. A well designed and built mechanical watch should last a lifetime as long as you take care of it properly. And you never have to worry about battery replacements.

2) Electronic/Quartz Ladies Watch Movements

Electronic or quartz watch movements use quartz timekeeping technology and are powered by a battery. They have an electrical circuit that includes an electronic oscillator synchronized by a quartz crystal.

The electric current from the battery causes the quartz crystal to pulsate with a precise frequency, which passes through an integrated circuit where it is broken down and converted into a single pulse every second. This pulse results in the consistent movement of the watch hands. The second hand moves in individual ticks.

Quartz is the most precise type of movement currently. Quartz timepieces are favored for everyday use because of their superior accuracy and reliability. Quartz is actually the most common movement in women's watches is quartz. 

Electronic watches are cheaper than mechanical ones. They are also low maintenance because they contain less moving parts. The battery requires replacement every 2 to 3 years. You never have to worry about winding. There are some quart watches that are powered by light and never need battery replacement or winding.

Watch Movements Manufacturers

Most watch companies purchase either the entire movement or parts of the movement from other companies.  

There are two countries that excel in the manufacturing of quartz and mechanical movements: Japan and Switzerland. Then there are Chinese movements that are found in most of the inexpensive, mass-produced watches.

Swatch of Switzerland and Seiko of Japan dominate the production of quartz movements worldwide. Other top watch movements manufacturers include ETA, Miyota, Sellita, Certina, Hattori, Ronda, Isa and Citizen.

Swiss Watch Movements- a Swiss movement means that more than fifty per cent of the movement was assembled in a Swiss factory using Swiss manufactured parts. A ‘Swiss-made movement’ label means the movement contains 100% Swiss parts assembled in Switzerland. Swiss movements are considered the highest quality standard. They include mechanical, automatic, and quartz. Luxury Swiss watches are highly desirable as Switzerland is renowned worldwide for superior watch making technology.

Japanese Watch Movements- The benchmark for quality has been set by the Swiss, but Japanese-produced movements are more or less at par. Japanese quartz and mechanical movements are highly rated. Top Japanese watch makers such as Seiko, Citizen (Miyota) and Orient are renowned for quality mechanical and quartz movements and watches at reasonable prices.

You can tell where a movement was made by checking the case or dial for a stamp.

Inhouse Watch Movements

There are some watch companies that are ‘vertically integrated’ and make their own inhouse movements without using any supplies from subcontractors. These watch makers' inhouse movements are known as manufactures or proprietary movements. 

Watches with inhouse movements are usually more expensive and highly coveted because of their exclusivity. Some top watch makers renowned for their signature movement technology include:

Breitling Movements Technology

Breitling makes its own mechanical chronograph movement. Plus all Breitling's electronic watches are equipped with Breitling SuperQuartz movements, which are ten times more accurate than the standard quartz movements.

Omega Movements technology

The Omega Co-Axial escapement transmits energy using lateral impulses, which reduce sliding friction resulting into greater mechanical efficiency and excellent chronometric performance.

Citizen Eco-Drive Technology

Citizen's award winning Eco-Drive technology converts light from any natural and artificial source into energy, which is stored permanently in a rechargeable lithium-ion cell and used to run the watch. Citizen Eco-Drive watches never need battery replacement.

Seiko Kinetic Technology

Seiko's kinetic technology generates electricity from the energy generated by the wearer's arm. Kinetic watches are quartz electronic watches powered automatically. They can operate for six months without being worn. Seiko's Kinetic Auto Relay watches are devised to tell the precise time even when they are not worn for up to four years. 

Bulova Precisionist Technology

From its founding in the 18th century, Bulova has achieved a reputation for accuracy and precision. The Bulova Precisionist quartz movement, which provides accuracy to within seconds a year is one of the world's most accurate movements. In laboratory testing, it is three times more accurate than a standard quartz movement. 

Factors To Consider To Choose the Best Ladies Watch Movement

The watch movement determines the accuracy/precision the watch can achieve and the maintenance requirements. Consider the level of accuracy you want and the level of maintenance you are comfortable with. Quartz watches offer superior accuracy and reliability.

When choosing a watch, it is important to consider whether you prefer winding or changing the battery. Do you prefer a watch you will wind daily or every so often, need to replace a battery every few years or never have to do any winding or battery replacement? 

The choice of ladies watch movement also depends on your appreciation for the traditional watch-keeping mechanism- mechanical or automatic would be the best in this case as well as when you are splurging on a classic luxury watch. 

Knowing the different types of ladies watch movements, what each entails, advantages and disadvantages, and maintenance requirements will ensure you consciously choose whether to buy a watch that needs winding, requires battery replacement, or powers itself from any kind of light.  

You will make the right choice of watch movement for yourself rather than end up with a certain mechanism by chance and be forced to learn the ropes and keep up with the watch's demands, which can be frustrating when you didn't opt for it in the first place.

Now that you understand the different types of ladies watch movements and can tell what makes the heart of a particular watch tick, you can make an informed choice of mechanism that will be best for you.

Explore More:

Ladies chronograph watches

Complicated Watches

Browse Ladies Watches by Features and Specifications

Home Page: Even More Gorgeous Ladies Watches

As the Chinese Proverb goes: ''An inch of time is an inch of gold but you can't buy that inch of time with an inch of gold''. Well, you can buy a great timepiece to help you manage the precious gift that is time while expressing your style!