The Complex World of Watch Movements

As we saw in our last blog, the world of watch movements is becoming ever more complex, with the new Omega Master Co-Axial escapement representing the latest development in this field. However, Omega is by no means the only brand name to be producing constant innovations in the world of horological mechanisms. For example, the new Tag Heuer Calibre CH 80 movement formed an integral part of their release at this year’s Baselworld watch and jewellery fair. Boasting an 80 hour power reserve, this miniscule monument to engineering is only 6.5 mm thick, and consists of a staggering 233 parts. With a vertical clutch system to ensure unparalleled precision, this is yet another movement that is truly worthy of being called ‘state of the art’.

However, unless you are well versed follower of watchmaking, it is often somewhat difficult to keep up with exactly what the different types of movement actually are. In fact, despite the multiple variations between each system, there are only a handful of distinct types; namely quartz, mechanical, and the less widespread tourbillon:

Quartz
Quartz movement are generally the province of ‘lower end’ watches, although some of the finest manufacturers do still use them due to their steady accuracy and unrivalled convenience. An electric oscillator is used in quartz movements, and it is the number of oscillations that allows the timepiece to be accurate. Regulated by a quartz crystal –hence the name – the frequencies within a quartz watch are very precise indeed; despite the relatively low status of these movements.

Mechanical
Mechanical movements are the staple mechanism within most luxury watches, and a great deal of expertise is required to build such a system. Both the aforementioned Omega and TAG Heuer developments conform to this well-beloved type, and two distinct variations are on offer:

–        An automatic movement utilises motion to passively wind the mainspring of the timepiece, although manual winding must also be conducted from time to time (usually determined by the power reserve).

–        The precursor to the automatic movement was, naturally, the manual movement. Despite the hassle of winding such a mechanism up every day, they are still venerated as collector’s pieces in many circles.

Tourbillon

A Tourbillon is a true marvel of horology that is designed to resist the negative effects of gravity. Taking its name from the French word for ‘whirlwind’, such a movement houses a rotating cage that imparts the necessary energy to the enclosed escapement and balance wheel of the watch. One of the new Chopard watches from Baselworld 2014 makes use of a tourbillon, and only the most prestigious of watches contain these movements.

Although there are only a few types of watch movement, all of them are subtly different, and so they require different considerations when they need to be maintained. Here at Martin’s of Glasgow, we specialise in repairing watch movements, and have done so for 32 years. Whether you need a service for Omega or Tag Heuer watch repairs, or indeed any other brand specific timepiece, we are confident of being able to help. Contact us now to find out more.