Selecting the Materials: Swiss-made Quartz Movement

February 11 2016

In the third installment of Selecting the Materials, we are, as previously promised, focusing on that absolutely essential element in watchmaking that is the movement also known as the 'heart' of the watch. 

The watch enthusiasts among you will know that watches have been around for a very long time indeed. In fact, known watchmaking history dates back to the 14th century years ago when the first spring-driven clocks saw the light of day. Wristwatches became the next natural step in the evolution of timekeeping with the first wristwatch dating back to the 16th century - a time when wearing a watch was the exclusive privilege royal matriarchs like Elizabeth I. 

Needless to say, this means that the development of the machinery that runs the hands on your watch is a time-honoured craft with its own intricately internal logic and somewhat opaque industry jargon. Consequently, providing you with an exhaustive overview of the history of movements, would be a tad excessive since it would require writing several thick books on this vast and complex topic. For our purposes, then, we’ll distinguish between two different types of movement: Quartz and mechanical.  

It’s no secret that we invest heavily in design. Our ongoing collaboration with a world-class design partner, is a major, integral part of our brand. However, the insides of our product is equally important. In certain respects, it’s actually more important as the movement is the central, most vital function in a timepiece. As the good people over at Dezeen put it

Watchmakers spend a vast amount of their time on this stage of the design process, and many aficionados insist that the inner workings are what separates a masterpiece from mediocrity.’

With that in mind, let’s get started on the ins and out of quartz, the movement that we’ve chosen for our watches. An easy way to determine the difference between the two is by looking at the way in which they move; mechanical watches will make the second hand move in a smooth sweeping motion, while quartz causes it to move in separate ticks. Within the category of quartz movement itself there are a wealth of different movements. The specific movement that we've chosen is a Swiss-made, gold-plated, four jewels Ronda movement (pictured here), which is widely regarded as the very best within the quartz segment. 


The science behind quartz is fairly complex, but we’ll spare you a lengthy description and keep it relatively brief: The movement consists of an electronic oscillator, regulated by a quartz crystal (Pictured below in its raw form) to keep time. This crystal oscillator creates a signal with very precise frequency, which means that quartz timekeeping is, in fact, more accurate than mechanical clocks.


There are a number of reasons behind our choice of quartz movement, one of them being that the technology comes equipped with the benefit of the best accuracy and reliability available. In other words, when your design is aiming for aesthetic sustainabilty and your choice of materials falls on the lasting, durable end of the spectrum, you want a movement that rarely, if ever, fails. 

Ultimately, Quartz watches are also lower maintenance because they contain less moving parts and use a battery as their main power source. This means that you don’t have to wind them up, which is part of the reason that your Bulbul watch comes with a battery lifespan of up to 10 years.


That’s it for movement. Next week, we’re tackling the challenging, comprehensive design process behind the asymmetric Pebble watch.