Category Archives: Movements

Movements: Quartz or Mechanical?

The movement is the actual time keeping mechanism in all clocks; it also moves the hands and pendulum, sounds the chimes.

Movements fall into two basic categories – mechanical (seen left) and quartz (electronic). There are positives and negatives to each.

By default, I install a quartz movement. I do this because the quartz movement is more accurate then a mechanical movement; it costs only a fraction of what a quality mechanical movement costs; installation is easier, and the only maintenance is a new battery (typically AA) every year or so. The downside is that there is usually no chiming, or if there is, it is simply electronic, and depending on the quartz movement, it can sound really cheap, or pretty decent, in the more expensive models. Both have a small speaker that must be mounted inside the case.

The mechanical movements typically add at least $300 to the price of the clock. These are quality German movements, such as Hermle or Kieninger; they are really little marvels, and quite beautiful, in their own way. With a mechanical movement, you’ll get that faint ticking and clicking of the movement, and natural sounding chimes, on small bells or rods. The sound is really very wonderful, and for the purist, that really wants the top product, mechanical is the only way to go. The down side is that they are not as accurate as quartz (losing a few seconds a day, typically), they need maintenance – oiling every 3 years or so – by a “clock doc” – a horologist. They need to be wound with a key every week (typically). But again, for the person that wants the total experience, the real deal, mechanical is the way to go. You can learn more about mechanical movements at American Clockmakers – Watchmakers Institute.

There is no charge for the standard, no chime quartz movement; it’s included in the clock price. Prices vary on the three upgraded movements, and some clocks can’t accept some movements; please ask for details.

Here’s a sample sound file of each movement:

$ Quartz Chime:  
$$ Premium Quartz Chime:
$$$ Mechanical Chime:
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Posted by on January 13, 2012 in Movements



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