Many people say to me that they could not live without their watch. But it was not until the last century that this became a realistic possibility for the majority of people. Timekeeping has been possible in a fairly accurate way since the 1400s but it was not until the 1800s, when watches began to be mass produced rather than made by hand by skilled watch makers, that this became accessible technology. The trend of wearing wristwatches began in the trenches in WW1 as they were a more practical accessory than a pocket watch. Since then the technology has developed in leaps and bounds.
The first wristwatches were mechanical. They are powered by the energy stored in a spring which was used to move a number of weighted wheels, or gears as they are also known, that turned the hands. This technology came from spring-powered clocks that were around as early as the 1400’s; it began to be used for smaller watches in the 1600’s. These types of watches need to wound regularly; meaning that as well as being prone to losing time they rely on their user to remember to wind them. For these reasons mechanical watches are generally collectors items or created primarily for nostalgic purposes rather than for practicality.
Kinetic or Automatic Watches
The modern variation of the mechanical watch that has recently seen a revival is the kinetic watch also known as an automatic. These watches have a similar internal structure but rely on the movement of the wearer to power the spring. They are often less reliable than other forms of power for watches; there is a greater likelihood that they will lose time, sometimes a few seconds every day. They have made a comeback in certain designers ranges such as Police and Seiko. This is partly because they never need to have a battery change and also the mechanics allow for some additional stylistic features like transparent backs through which the mechanism can be viewed.
In 1969 the first quartz powered watch was available on the market. Quartz has special properties so when it is shaped in a certain way and subject to an electrical field it will bend. When the field is removed the quartz generates an electrical field of its own as it moves back to its original shape. This property is known as piezoelectricity. Due to this property quartz crystals can be used to regulate the movement of an electronic oscillator. This energy and movement powers and controls the hands of the watch. This revolutionary technology is now the most common form of power in wristwatches. It is also the most reliable timekeeping method which also comes at a low price.
The most accurate time pieces on the planet are connected to atomic clocks. An atomic clock deviates by around a second every million years! Certain wristwatches such as the Casio WaveCeptor range utilise this technology. This is done through a network of radio transmitters which emit time signals. Radio controlled watches receive this signal and adjust themselves accordingly.
Types of Watch Batteries
There are three main types of battery that are used to power watches. The most common is the silver oxide battery. They are frequently used in watches because they have a high energy to weight ratio. This means that they should last for a long period of time. Due to the silver content they can be expensive to produce which is why they are not often used for products that take larger batteries.
Lithium batteries are long-life and also relatively expensive. They are used primarily in watches that have lights or other energy draining features.
Solar cells are now becoming a popular and effective way of powering wristwatches. High-tech battery cells are fuelled by the light that reaches them through the watch face. This means that the user will never have to change the battery. Citizen’s Eco-Drive range has set the standard for the practical application of this technology. As an additional ecological bonus the batteries do not contain any of the harmful chemicals found in regular batteries.
Amy works as part of the customer service team at Find Watches helping customers in both the shop and online store find the perfect watch. You can find Amy, and the rest of the Find Watches team at http://www.findwatches.co.uk