How Quartz Movements Keep Time

Quartz pic

Quartz
Image: explainthatstuff.com

Pocket watch collector Craig Duling is the expert behind http://www.heritagepocketwatch.com. Craig Duling’s website showcases his collection of rare and ornate watches and provides a wealth of information about the history and inner workings of various timepieces.

Timepieces that are based on pendulums or springs require winding to help them keep time. Winding is a form of stored energy, which gradually depletes through friction, air resistance, and other forces.

Quartz watches use a battery in place of a winding mechanism. A battery can store enough energy to run a timepiece well for years. In a quartz clock, the battery delivers energy to a small crystal. This crystal will always vibrate at a specific frequency: 32,768 times per second. An electronic circuit in the timepiece is able to count these vibrations, which allows it to generate a small electric pulse exactly once a second.

These repetitive electronic pulses keep time just like the escapements in a mechanical timepiece. They can be used to turn gears that move timepiece arms, or they can be used to power a small display in a digital timepiece.

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