THE QUARTZ WATCH

HWM (Singapore) - - Learn -

The piezo­elec­tric ef­fect - the premise on which quartz time­pieces work - was first dis­cov­ered in the late 19th cen­tury around 1880. How­ever, it was not un­til the 1920s that the first quartz clock was built. And in 1969, the first quartz watch, the Astron, was built by Seiko. It was af­ter this that peo­ple be­gan to ap­pre­ci­ate the ac­cu­racy and con­ve­nience of quartz watches. In ad­di­tion, thanks to the ad­vances in solid state elec­tron­ics and mass pro­duc­tion tech­nol­ogy, quartz watches could soon be man­u­fac­tured cheaply and quickly. This led to the demise of me­chan­i­cal watches, re­sult­ing in the Quartz Cri­sis of the 1970s and early 1980s, where the Swiss watch­mak­ing in­dus­try suf­fered a rapid and mas­sive de­cline and many me­chan­i­cal watch mak­ers were forced to close shop. the sec­onds hand of a me­chan­i­cal watch is tick­ing smoothly.

It was dis­cov­ered in the late 19th cen­tury that if you were to pass a charge through a quartz crys­tal, the crys­tal will also os­cil­late. This is the piezo­elec­tric ef­fect. It was also found that quartz pro­duces a con­sis­tent rate of os­cil­la­tion and is re­sis­tant to tem­per­a­ture changes.

This piezo­elec­tric ef­fect is cre­ated in a quartz watch by us­ing a bat­tery as the en­ergy source. The bat­tery sends a charge to the quartz crys­tal which in turns has been de­signed to os­cil­lates at at pre­cisely 32,768Hz. The dig­i­tal cir­cuit in which it is placed mea­sures the os­cil­la­tions so that it knows when a sec­ond has passed.

Tech­ni­cally, it is pos­si­ble to have a sweep­ing mo­tion like me­chan­i­cal watches, and be­cause the quartz crys­tal os­cil­lates so quickly, the sweep ac­tion would be even smoother. Un­for­tu­nately, this puts a huge drain on the bat­ter­ies, which is why watch­mak­ers even­tu­ally set­tled for a sin­gle tick per sec­ond to pro­long bat­tery life.

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