Watching The Art Of Automatic Watches

By: Rene Graeber

Automatic watches are works of art.

Picture an intricate system of gears and pendulums, aimed to function by means of a truly inversed proportional power source. The intricate measurements involved therein, the precise positioning of the gears, all these take skill and science to compile. Especially when the item is about an inch wide.

Automatic watches work on the art that is this.

Automatic quartz watches are a type of such automatic watches. The term basically refers to the collective system of watch movements which combine with a self-winding rotor mechanism. The said self-winding rotor system generates power with the help of a piezoelectric quartz crystal playing the role of timing element. A pendulum attached to a large gear, meshed with a small pinion, can be found within the setup.

As movement occurs (meaning as the automatic watch's wearer moves), the pendulum induces the pinion to turn and spin at a very high speed (sometimes up to 100,000 revolutions per minute). Capacitors (usually four of them) store power from a miniature electrical generator, and charges them. The generator gets power from the revolving pinion.

If the automatic watch isn't used, the charged power from the capacitors power up the device (some brands for up to six months). The charge taken from the capacitors keeps a regular quartz watch accurate to 1-2 seconds in a week.

Seiko is known for its automatic watches. The Japanese watch company pioneered the whole automatic quartz movement, releasing the first breed of automatic quartz watches in 1988. Seventy five hours of continuous operation (fully powered) made the Seiko AGS (Automatic Generating System) a superstar in the realm of watches. By 1991 Seiko came out with the Kinetic line of Seiko products.

Of course, Seiko isn't the only automatic watch out there utilizing quartz technology. ETA SA, a Swiss company (a member of the Swatch group) also produce automatic quartz watches. Though not a seller as Seiko's automatic watches are, ETA Autoquartz did boast the same benefits one could gain from Seiko's Kinetic product line.

Citizen, another Japanese watch company (second largest, coming after Seiko), took a different approach with their automatic watches. In 1998 Citizen's Eco-Drive was released to the public. Citizen's Eco-Drive watches utilize solar power to run their watches. Both mechanical and solar power driven, the integration of these two technologies made the Eco-Drive a unique roster member in the list of automatic watches.

Another automatic watch worth noting would be Ventura's Ven_99, which is basically an automatic digital watch. Ventura, a small Swiss-based watch manufacturer came up with the Ven_99 which combines autoquartz technology and a digital readout of time (using a liquid crystal display).

Indeed, there are options out there when it comes to automatic watches. Be you into Seiko's quartz watches, or Citizen's sun driven Eco-Drive watches, the remaining constant that makes these watches superstars is the fact that one doesn't have to worry about running out of batteries.

An art in itself.

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