There are quite a few ways to categorize wristwatches. To keep it from getting complicated right away, we picked out the most common wristwatch types for you and added a few exciting ones of our own choice. The idea of the following is to give you an overview of what kind of wristwatches are there and what makes them so different.
Quartz movement is an electronic wristwatch movement that runs on battery. It is considered the most precise watch movement of them all. The simplicity and carefree maintenance make it the most popular choice. How does it work? Battery energy directed through a quartz crystal controls the motor, which sets the wristwatch hands in motion. Quartz movements are used in all watches with an electronic dial. The closest example of a quartz watch is our AEGAON "Tabula Rasa", which indicates seconds, minutes, hours, and dates.
In a way, automatic watch movements are the Perpetuum mobile of wristwatches. It is a 100% mechanical movement without a dash of electronics. The way it works is simple – you have to wind the watch to make it go manually. The uniqueness lies in its additional rotor, which starts to circle as you wear the watch. The energy from that motion gets directed and added to the power spring of the wristwatch movement. As a result, the automatic movement of your wristwatch will never stop if worn actively every day. A tremendous nearby example is the "Aviaator" by an Estonian brand named "Estonia 1918".
As the name already refers, a manual winding movement is a fully mechanical movement that needs to be wound manually. The movement composes of numerous little details, gears, springs, wheels, etc. There are no ball bearings in mechanical watches –jewels are used instead (in most mechanical movements). The more, the better – as the saying goes. A manual winding movement will run as long as the mainspring has energy stored in it. Depending on the exact wristwatch movement, it may run 1-3 days.
What describes skeleton watches best is the fact that they are transparent mechanical watches. It means they have optics on both sides of the casing, revealing all the magic and beauty of the mechanical movement ticking. You will most often see an automatic or a manual winding movement inside a skeleton watch. All of our AEGAON Peacemaker designs are skeletons.
Chronograph watches are the ones with stopwatch functions. You recognize them by at least three little dials in addition to the timekeeping dial that are managed by extra buttons or crowns on the side of the casing. These three allow you to measure time in seconds, minutes, and hours. Many chronograph watches have a bezel with all sorts of numbers on them. They are called a tachymeter, which is used to measure speed and distances in seconds, kilometers, and miles. Another "meter" a chronograph may have is the telemeter. It allows you to measure distances based on the speed of sound. Sounds complicated? Not really. For example, you can measure the distance between thunder and yourself by measuring seconds between the flash and the sound. The seconds will give you the answer in kilometers right on the telemeter scale.
All these functions come in handy when you need to measure the average speed between two significant events. Chronographs are widely used in rally sports, aviation, sailing, diving, etc. In the modern world, chronographs are found both with quartz and mechanical movements. We will hereby present a famous example by Longines.
The number one purpose of a dive watch is to be 100% water-resistant. What indicates water resistance on watches are the ATM or BAR markings – both have the same meaning. Whether dive watches start from 20ATM or 30ATM is one of the most disputed subjects, depending on the perspective of different standards, etc. – we won't bore you with the details.
One of the most vulnerable details against water is the crown. That's why most dive watches come with a screw-down crown system – it works like a bottle cap. Much attention is also paid to the critical details like the crown, optics, and case back. Most dive watches are basically diveable chronographs with glowing hands and markers (luminescence). Omega Seamaster Diver 300 is considered as one of the best. It was also one of the models used by the legendary sea explorer Jacques Cousteau.
These days, many watches are sold under the name of pilot watch – which might just be based on their design but may lack the functions. One of the pilot wristwatch's main characteristics is the prominent and distinguishable number indexes on the dial. Both the indexes and watch hands glow in the dark, which is called luminescence. The pilots need to have a clear visual of the time, even in the dark. Another distinguishable characteristic of a pilot watch is the onion-shaped colossal crown. Since pilots of the early days had to wear gloves against freezing their hands, a regular small crown was useless. Serious pilot watches are once again chronographs – for calculating fuel consumption, time zone differences, etc. There's a lot to choose from. We went for a modern bad-ass named "Spitfire" by IWC.
A hybrid wristwatch looks like a regular classic timepiece with watch hands and a dial, except for some smartwatch features. Electronics or a mechanical movement moves the hands. All other functions are backed by fancy sensors that allow you to read important data about your steps, sleep, etc. on your smartphone. Hybrid watches are relatively new to the wristwatch world, but very well received by people who prefer classic watch design but can't say no to smartwatch functions. Let's bring a beautiful example from the ladies' department – Fossil FTW5007.
Smartwatches are fully electronic wristwatches. With a touchscreen for a dial, they grant access to one's e-mails, receive calls via watch, etc. Some run on battery, and most are rechargeable with a USB wire or even wireless charger pad. Smartwatches are connected to one's smartphone, allowing them to read valuable data collected by fancy sensors within the smartwatch – steps, sleep, etc. The best-known smartwatch is, of course, the Apple Watch.
Tactical watch design can mostly be described as robust and massive, as its design is meant to withstand beating as much as possible. Tactical watches have to be water-resistant and able to take on extreme temperatures. If you need a "bulletproof" wristwatch, then a tactical wristwatch should be your first choice. Tacticals are mostly electronic quartz watches, offering a wide range of functions. These types of watches are mostly used by extreme professions such as firemen, police army, etc. We will bring you a well known affordable example – Casio G-Shock.
"Those were the most commonly known watch types, based on the type of movement and functions. You can discover a whole lot more looking around online. We have picked out four more watch types as a treat, based on their extraordinary and fascinating movements most people don't even know exist – kinetic, spring drive, concept, and tourbillon".
A kinetic movement consists of the best qualities of a quartz and automatic movement. Regular automatic movements spinning rotor generates additional energy for the movements' mainspring. The kinetic movement generates additional energy for the battery of the quartz side of the movement. You may find a kinetic movement inside of a Seiko SNP139P wristwatch.
Spring drive is considered as one of the most significant breakthroughs in the wristwatch movement world lately. Again, it brings together the best qualities of the quartz and automatic movement. If you understand what a dynamo is, then that's pretty much how the spring drive works. The spinning rotor of the movement produces additional energy for the mainspring, just as in automatic movement. The energy stored in the mainspring is converted into electric current, which drives the quartz movement. The beauty of it is that the electronic movement runs battery-free. Check it out in this luxurious Grand Seiko.
Concept watch is a branch of the watch world that finds all sorts of alternative solutions to make the movements work and display the time. Since there's nothing more to say, check out a manufacturer by the name of Devon. The rest are up for you to discover.
Tourbillon is the mamma-mia of all mechanical watch movements. It is the most precise mechanical watch movement in the world. Get this – it was invented already back in 1795.
It is gravity that makes all other mechanical movements fall behind, some less some more.
The tourbillon is built to defy gravity. Thanks to very delicate wheels within the movement, that constantly work to generate the energy lost to gravity. As you will see for yourself, it is quite fine mechanics, making it extremely expensive.
In this case, a photo won't do, so we give you this video to watch.
Now you know all the main watch types and got an idea of how they work. If you want to dig deeper, go right ahead, you have all the keywords right here.
If you're wondering whats the difference between a 5€ and 500 000€ wristwatch then look no further. In our next blog post, you'll learn what you are paying for in a wristwatch, so keep an eye on our blog or sign up to our mailing list on the bottom of this page.