Automatic quartz

Automatic quartz

Automatic quartz is a collective term describing watch movements that combine a self-winding rotor mechanism (as used in automatic mechanical watches) to generate electricity with a piezoelectric quartz crystal as its timing element. Such movements aim to provide the advantages of quartz without the environmental impact of batteries. Several manufacturers employ this technique.

Mode of operation

A rotating pendulum inside the case is attached to a relatively large gear which meshes with a very small pinion. As the wearer moves, the pendulum turns and spins the pinion at a very high speed - up to 100,000 rpm. This is coupled to a miniature electrical generator which charges a storage device which is a capacitor(s) or a rechargeable battery. A typical full charge will last between two weeks and six months.



Japanese company Seiko pioneered the technique which it unveiled at the Baselworld 1986 under the trial name AGM.cite press release | url= | title=SEIKO Kinetic. 20 years of success | publisher=Seiko | date=2007-04-12 | accessdate=2007-08-09] The first such watch was released in Germany in January 1988 and April of the same year in Japan (under the name Auto-Quartz). [cite web | url= | title=Seiko AGS Quartz Watch: The world's first automatic power generating quartz watch | work=Seiko Epson Corp | accessdate=2007-01-18] The watches had an average monthly rate of ±15 sec and provided 75 hours of continuous operation when fully powered. Early "automatic quartz" movements were called AGS (Automatic Generating System); in 1991 the company introduced the Kinetic brand name. Today Seiko offers a wide range of watches with various different Kinetic movements. The top of the line is the caliber 9T82, included in Sportura (international brand) and PROSPEX (only marketed in Japan) Collection. It's sold in limited volume at a price range of about US$3000 which makes it one of the most expensive automatic quartz watches. Kinetic technology has also been used in some of Seiko's Pulsar and Lorus watches. As of 2007, Seiko has sold more than eight million automatic quartz watches.

The different calibres of Kinetic watches currently are relatively large and heavy, weighing in at 1/3rd of a pound or more on many models. Therefore, most Seiko Kinetic watches are only available in a men's size.

Movement calibers

* 1M20
* 3M21 3M22
* 3M62
* 4M21
* 4M71
* 5D22* 5D44* (Direct Drive)
* 5J21* 5J22* (Auto Relay)
* 5J32* (Auto Relay)
* 5M22 5M23 5M25
* 5M42 5M43 5M45 5M47
* 5M54* (Retrograde Day Indicator)
* 5M62* 5M63* 5M65(GMT)*
* 7D46* 7D48* 7D56* (Auto Relay, Perpetual Calendar)
* 7L22* (Auto Relay, Chronograph)
* 7M12 7M42
* 7M22 7M45
* 9T82* (Chronograph)
* YT57* YT58 (*) In use as of at Aug-2008

Implementation faults

* Some calibers have the backlash phenomenon; tilting the watch from side to side occasionally caused the minute hand to fall around somewhere between half a minute and a full minute. It was confirmed by SEIKO and technically it is impossible to improve the situation by reassembling the watch. This however is apparently completely normal for quartz watches generally. It is more commonly a slight play in the minute hand seen in Seiko quartz movements that amounts to perhaps 1/12th to 1/6th of a visible minute between minute notches on the dial. Arguably, this is not a practical problem and is only noticeable when the case is held motionless and the long hand is watched repeatedly and singlemindedly. Furthermore it only occurs rarely, at least in Seikos with movements manufactured in the last 15 years. Most of the time, the minute marks are hit either dead on, or so close as to hardly be noticeable. Also this does not effect the actual time keeping in the slightest, which is very precise, even by quartz watch standards. As noticed, it appears that any tendency for the long hand to come up short by the same fractional distance is related to the date dial turning at the same time between 2200 and 0000. The amount of actual daily time when this would occur is only about one hour.

* Some watches made before year 2000 brought faulty capacitors in the ESU ("Electricity Storage Unit"). Newer models already bring a new lithium ion rechargeable cell. This cell, sometimes called a "secondary battery", enabled the ESU to store more energy for a longer period of time. With the currently made 5M62/5M63/5M65 movements, the result is reserve power for up to six months. An older Kinetic caliber like the 5M42, only runs for two weeks on its reserve power. It also eliminated some capacitor related issues in some Kinetic models in the mid and late 1990s.


Swiss company ETA SA, part of the Swatch group, made seven different automatic quartz movements, calling them Autoquartz. They were part of the premium Flatline series of movements and were sold to a variety of watch vendors, primarily European and American. High grade movements designed to last as long as their premium mechanical movements, they had between 15 to 53 jewels. Unlike most quartz watches, Autoquartz could be calibrated to increase their accuracy. Several vendors had their Autoquartz watches COSC certified. In 2006 to increase production of its highly demanded mechanical movements, Swatch discontinued supplying the Autoquartz line to customers (service and parts are still available). The last actively sold Autoquartz was by Fortis in 2007.

Movement calibers:
* 204.901 (small 8.75 lignes used primarily in women's watches)
* 204.911 (replacement for the 204.901 upgrading from a capacitor to a rechargeable battery)
* 205.111 (discontinued and replaced by the 205.911 which upgraded from a capacitor to a rechargeable battery)
* 205.711 (15 jeweled movement used only by Swatch Watch for a variety of its fashion watches)
* 205.911 (the most commonly available movement having 17 jewels and often ordered in gold plating)
* 205.961 (a 205.911 with the addition of a GMT hand)
* 206.211 (a 205.911 fitted with a Dubois Depraz 2021 to make a chronograph. With 53 jewels the most jeweled quartz ever made)

Manufacturers who employ or employed ETA movements: Tissot, Longines, Swatch, Omega (Omega Seamaster Omega-matic), Dugena (K-Tech), Wenger (GST Field Terragraph Autoquartz), Hermès (Nomade), Roberge (Altaïr), Mido (Multifort), Bovet (Autoquartz calibre 11BQ01), Fortis (Spacematic Eco), Belair (Autoquartz), HTO (Grand Voyager) and Cyma.


Citizen, the second largest Japanese watch company (after Seiko), also built an autoquartz-powered watch: the Citizen Promaster Eco-Duo Drive (released in December of 1998). [cite web | url= | title=History of CSR Activities | work=Citizen Watch Co. | accessdate=2007-01-18] Novel to this watch was the use of both mechanical power as well as a solar cell. This model was an attempt to enter higher-priced markets (at a cost of around $1000 USD) but the technology failed to attract consumer interest and Citizen has since stopped making use of the unique movement. No other autoquartz powered watch from Citizen is known, all other Eco-Drive models only use solar power or thermal power.


Ventura was a small Swiss watch manufacturer claiming to be "the World's only manufacturer of automatic digital watches". Their VEN_99 movement was indeed the only watch combining autoquartz and digital readout of time (LCD) in one package. On offer were three models: the Sparc rx, fx and px. Late 2006, the company was start selling their movement incorporating alarm which made another exclusive feature. All hardware was genuinely designed and exclusively sold by Ventura. In 2007 the company went into bankruptcy [ [ Chuck Maddox’s Watch Blog: Sad news to report, the loss of an innovator...] ] .


* As a result of the relatively complex mechanical parts used, such watches tend to be more expensive to manufacture and service.
* Although they are a hybrid of mechanical and electric parts and provide substantial advantages over entirely mechanical watches, the Japanese movements do rarely or never appeal to watch collectors and connoisseurs interested in higher-priced and up-market models which are nearly always mechanical. The Swiss ETA movements, especially those encased by upmarket vendors, have appealed to collectors.

ee also

* Automatic watch
* Complication (horology)
* Jewel bearing


External links

* [ watches-lexic: ETA Autoquartz]
* [ Seiko AGS Quartz Watch] The world's first automatic power generating quartz watch.

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