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Power Sources

Mechanical

Before there were pea-sized batteries, watches ran on mechanical power. Otherwise known as manually powered, most mechanical watches require daily winding to keep the tiny wheels and gears tickin' away. A timeless classic — this type of watch is still made, but is not as popular as it once was.

How it works …

A wind-up watch is actually powered by a spring. When the watch is wound, the spring causes a mass to move back and forth — which acts as the timing element. Then, one or more gears are connected to the spring and the mass to keep the movement (time) of the mass at a constant pace.

Why this watch?

Mechanical watches can be considered collectible, like an antique. They are not the most accurate or the cheapest, but they offer a true piece of historic time. The appeal of a mechanical watch lies more in one's appreciation of craftsmanship and tradition than in technology.

Once wound, a mechanical watch keeps time accurately for about 1-2 days. Although a simple twist of the wrist a day is all that's needed, most people now prefer to depend on a more modern watch that requires less attention. But with good care and habitual winding, a mechanical watch can run, literally, as long as you want it to.

Battery-Powered

The most common power source for watches today is batteries. In the beginning, battery-powered watches, also known as quartz watches, allowed for more accurate time keeping, as well as a slimmer, lighter design.

How it works …

A battery powers a piece of quartz shaped like a tuning fork. An electrical charge from the battery causes the quartz to vibrate, creating a steady frequency used to count or measure time at an extremely accurate pace.

Why this watch?

Probably the largest benefit of battery-powered watches is that they are easy to find and can be the most cost-friendly when compared to some higher technological designs. Also, battery-powered watches are made by almost every watch manufacturer and are available with a large variety of optional functions.

Another benefit to battery-powered watches is that they keep running without constant maintenance. Unlike the mechanical watch, you can leave this type of watch on your dresser or jewelry box for months on end and it will still keep time. But remember, batteries don't last forever so they will need to be replaced at some point in time. But here's a tip: Battery life expectancy is usually a minimum of 12 months before you need to replace it. However, batteries can last for a number of years depending on the type of material used to make the battery and the voltage. For example, a 3-volt lithium battery lasts longer than a silver oxide 1.5-volt battery.

Light-Powered

It starts with a simple, yet revolutionary concept: a watch that never needs a battery! Although not completely new on the watch scene, light-powered watches are one of the latest developments in watch design and technology. Therefore, they have not become as common as the typical battery-powered watch, but it's possible that they are on their way!

Currently, Citizen® with its Eco-Drive model is the most well-known brand that offers light-powered watches. (There are also other manufacturers, such as Seiko's Pulsar Solar model.)

How it works …

Citizen Eco-Drive technology harnesses the power of light — from any natural or artificial light source — and converts it into energy.

Light passes through the sapphire glass face (1) and a high-porous dial (2). Then by the mechanism of a solar panel (3) and a charging device (4), light is converted into energy.Solar watch

The key to Eco-Drive lies in its reserve energy storage cell (5). This energy storage cell does not contain any harmful chemicals as an ordinary battery would. It is a lithium-ion device that stores the energy converted from light.

Why this watch?

The main advantage to having a light-powered watch is that it's battery free. They recharge by themselves so you don't have to worry about trips to the mall for a new battery. When fully charged, a light-powered watch can run from two to six months on its stored energy!

Kinetic-Powered

Kinetic watches are another type of watch that will leave battery replacement behind! Instead of batteries, the movement of your arm or body is the power source for kinetic watches. Kinetic power is not a new technology, but what's done with the energy that is created from the movement is what sets these watches apart from the rest!

Currently, Seiko® is one of the biggest manufacturers in the lead of kinetic-powered watches with its Seiko Kinetic model.

How it works …

The basics behind kinetic watches are not much different than an automatic watch or a self-winding watch. A semicircular weight is attached to an axis — as your arm or body moves, the weight swings back and forth creating energy. In an automatic watch, when this weight swings, it is actually winding the spring of the watch.

With a kinetic watch, there are a few differences in the mechanics. The first is that they have quartz movement like a battery-powered watch. In a kinetic watch, this means that the swinging weight is actually creating the energy that charges the piece of quartz to vibrate and hold its steady frequency.

The second difference is that once the electrical charge is created, a kinetic watch is able to store the energy in a capacitor. The capacitor then acts like a rechargeable battery — allowing the watch to keep accurate time much longer than an automatic.

Why this watch?

The benefits of kinetic watches are the same as light-powered watches. They don't require a battery and are more environmentally friendly than a battery-powered watch.

A kinetic watch can store enough energy to keep time for up to six months. However, usage of a watch winder will allow you leave your watch in a jewelry box or valet for even longer.