How do Quartz Watches Work

Keep accurate time with nothing more than a lump of rock!

The quartz watch uses a special quality of the crystal (actually made of a silicon dioxide compound) that was discovered to vibrate at a very regular 32,768 times per second. Clocks and watches that utilize quartz are generally very accurate but they do lose and gain time; this is because the crystal reacts to changes in the atmosphere such as shifts in temperature and pressure.

Quartz watches work because the crystal itself is piezoelectric, which means it vibrates when you apply an electrical current to it. The circuit that the quartz crystal sits at the heart of also collects the energy that the piezoelectric effect generates to drive the motor that moves the hands or, alternatively, power the LCD display if it’s a digital display.

Quartz watch parts

Quartz watch partsBattery – A charge must be applied to the quartz crystal so it vibrates. As only a small amount of current is needed, a battery can last for several years.

Quartz crystal – The crystal is shaped like a tuning fork and oscillates at a precise 32,768 times per second.

Circuit board and microprocessor – The electronics in the quartz clock detect the vibrations of the crystal and convert these into regular pulses.

Stepping motor – The electrical output from the quartz crystal is used to drive a tiny motor that moves the hands on the face of the clock.

Gearing for the motor – Piezoelectric current is used to drive the motor that is in turn connected to a series of gears that precisely move the hands.