Saturday, August 18, 2012

Never Again Will A Watch Battery Bite Me On The...

   It's always a headache when a quartz watch needs a new battery. You move along through life with it ticking away on your wrist. It's a happy little thing, the quartz watch. It ticks reliably. It ticks once per second. It is unquestionably an accurate, low-maintenance (except for batteries) timepiece.

   Quartz Watches!
   They're accurate. They're easy to maintain. They're on wrists all over the world. I have several of them. Some are expensive, and some are not so expensive. I have one that's Swiss (that's one of the expensive ones).
Quartz Movement -- Battery and electronics
   Know what I don't like about quartz watches? Batteries. They all need batteries. Sure, the battery lasts a long time. A year, or two, or three. Some watch manufacturers brag that the battery only needs to be replaced every five years. Some claim longer times.
   Yeah. They might be right, or they might be wrong. I don't know. I do know this: when the battery stops, so does your watch. No warning. You just wonder what time it is and suddenly don't know.
Automatic Watch Movement -- gears and weight
   Literally -- one second your watch is humming along, the next second is just like the last second except your watch has gone from being correct every second to being right twice a day. It'll be right at the time it stopped in the AM and right in the time it stopped in the PM, just like a clock face painted on a rock is right twice a day.

   I know it's old school, but I remember happily the days when a stopped watch was an easy fix. There was no need to take the watch to a jeweler or person with a cart in the middle of a mall. I just took the thing off my wrist, with a mental shake of my head for neglecting the simple task of twisting a knob, wound it, set it, and went along my merry way.
   The good old days weren't always good, but they weren't all bad either.
   Some of the younger people I work with say I'm old school. I accept that as a compliment whether it's meant that way or not. There's usually an undertone of admiration...and if there isn't, I pretend there is.
   The watch movement (the guts of a watch) on the right is an example of the type of movement I've always admired and the kind of movement in the watch I'm wearing now. Instead of a battery, my watch is powered by a spring. The spring is powered by winding when the weight turns a gear (or 12) or when I twist the crown with my fingers. If it stops, it will be because I neglected it either by not wearing it, or not winding it after I let it sit for a couple of days.
   I like my old school mechanical watch. I guess I'm not the only one. Automatic watches are making something of a comeback among younger people. I hear they're not as accurate as quartz watches, and with all the gears inside that have to work together precisely, I'm not surprised they're not as accurate. By "not as accurate" I mean they might lose or gain a few seconds a day. It's a good idea to check your watch against a reliable source every once in a while whether it's quartz or mechanical. All watches lose or gain a few seconds here and there. If you have to punch a time clock, I suggest you make sure your watch matches that clock...whether that clock is right or wrong. Unless you sell your wristwatch, it won't pay you like your employer does.
   Uh-oh. I just looked at my watch. Yes, it's still running. It's telling me it's time for bed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're not 'old school', you're just a guy who appreciates real engineering. I'm too am a big fan of engineering. And I’m a huge fan of automatic watches… I love the idea of many precision gears all working in succinct harmony. As for gaining or losing time… well, I’m just glad I don’t “punch a clock” for a living.