There are three common types of watch movement that will be important for anyone to know when purchasing a watch. The three types of watch movements are quartz, manual and automatic.
This is the cheapest and also one of the most popular movements that are available in a lot of watches. One easy way to tell if your watch is a quartz movement is when you can see each individual tick of the second hand of the watch. This means the watch is powered by a quartz movement which in turn is powered by a battery. The battery will last between a year to two and some have claimed the watch to even last longer to three years. Out of the three watch movements the quartz movement is the most accurate in time keeping compared to a manual or automatic.
Inside a quartz movement there is a quartz crystal and the battery sends electrical impulses that vibrates that crystal at a rate of 32,768 seconds. The movement senses each vibration and moves the second hand at the 32,768th vibration every time. The number will always stay the same and this is why it keeps the most accurate time, compared to a manual or automatic which will always lose or gain a few seconds every day.
This is often just called a mechanical movement, but both automatic and a manual movement are mechanical. The manual movement and the automatic movement will make the second hand move in a smooth sweeping motion. The manual movement can only be powered by manually winding the crown of the watch. There is a risk that a person can over-wind the watch, so only wind the watch until you feel a resistance, at that point stop and push the crown back in. Most watches sold will have a guide showing as to how to power the watch. These movements are usually seen in vintage watches as well as much more high-end luxury watches.
An automatic watch is much like the manual watch but it has an extra component in the watch, which allows it to be powered through kinetic movement. Meaning when you wear the watch and move around it will turn the rotor of the movement which then gets transferred to all the parts and moves the hands of the watch. If needed much like a manual movement you can manually wind it from the crown as well. Just like a manual watch avoid winding the watch too much when using the crown as this can damage the watch. A very easy way to identify if the watch movement is an automatic movement is by identifying the rotor. This rotor is usually identified as this half-cut piece of metal that swings around the movement. With an automatic movement you can also get a chronometer automatic movement. This is a special automatic movement, that needs to be independently tested and certified to state that the watch is accurate between a “+6/-4” range. Meaning it cannot gain more than 6 seconds a day or lose more than 4 seconds a day.
If accuracy is a concern or you want a cheap and very reliable movement choose a quartz movement. If you like to admire the movement of the watch and see each individual component move and work around choose either manual or automatic movement watch. However, be aware as depending on the complications of the watch and the movement it can get quite pricey.
These are just the three main watch movements. There are a few more watch movements that are mainly noticed or used with a particular brand.
Citizens Eco-Drive Movement
This movement is citizens own movement, where it is powered through any light source. Which technically means that the battery will never need to be changed.
Seiko Kinetic Movement
There are two variations to this movement. The auto quartz movement is the Seiko kinetic movement which through physical movement will generate small current as the rotor in the watch moves and uses that charge to power the watch.
The final variation is the auto relay movement, where the watch will realise when it is not in use and put it in a power saving mode. The only difference from the auto quartz movement mentioned above is that once you stop wearing the watch it will deactivate the motors on the watch.
It is pretty self-explanatory, as the watch has solar panels under the dial of the watch which collects solar energy and uses that to power the battery in the watch.