If you are searching for a watch as a self-purchase or as a gift, one of the key things to consider is whether you want a quartz or mechanical watch. Both have their advantages. Essentially, while a mechanical watch is a tiny engine of individual components that power the watch mechanically, a quartz watch is powered by a battery and a piece of quartz, and features a tiny circuit board.
In a quartz watch, a tiny, low-frequency piece of quartz crystal acts as an oscillator. The battery sends electricity to that crystal through an electronic circuit. The quartz oscillator, which is typically placed in an integrated circuit, vibrates quickly and with precise frequency (32,768 times/second) in response to the electronic charge. The circuit counts the vibrations and generates regular electric pulses (one per second) that drive the small motor that moves the watch’s hands – offering accurate time measurement (until the battery runs out of energy).
Quartz watches were developed in the late 1960s, and the new technology took the world by storm. The first quartz watch put into production was the Astron by Seiko (1969) and the Japanese came out as leaders in the quartz "revolution." The Swiss were slow to adapt over the ensuing decade, but eventually unveiled quartz powered watches in the 1980s to supplement their core mechanical watch business. Today, we have a wealth of mechanical and quartz watches being made around the world.
The advantages of quartz watches include the fact that they don't not need to be wound. The owner can put the watch down for a few days, a week or longer and come back and it will still be working (unless it is at the end of its battery life). Generally, batteries in quartz watches will last between two and five years. Another advantage to quartz watches is that they are usually more affordable than a mechanical piece that has hundreds of tiny parts inside. In the end, though, it is always a personal preference.