How does a quartz watch work?

Welcome to the fascinating world of watchmaking, where tradition meets technology to create an exceptional time experience.

In this watchmaking journey, we will explore the mysteries of how a quartz watch works, much more than a simple timepiece. It is an electric symphony where each second is meticulously orchestrated by the piezoelectric crystal of quartz.

Let's dive together into the mechanisms that drive each tick, revealing how quartz, by its electronic nature, transforms time into a precise and enchanting dance.


Quartz is a translucent crystal composed of silicon dioxide. It is formed from geological processes, notably by the crystallization of magma. This crystal is widely distributed throughout the world and can be found in various geological environments, such as rocks, river beds or even in certain desert regions.

quartz crystal

How does this crystal, from the depths of the Earth, become the beating heart of 90% of global watch production? Thanks to its particular property: piezoelectricity.


Quartz has the property of being piezoelectric. That is to say, when a mechanical stress is exerted on a piezoelectric material (like a weight placed on it), it generates an electric potential difference.

In other words, it produces electricity.

And conversely, in fact, when the material is subjected to an electric field, it deforms.

Piezoelectric Illustration

Now that we've explored the fascinating piezoelectric property of quartz, let's dive into the electrical universe that results from it, where each vibration becomes a note in the symphony of time. From generating electricity through the simple weight on quartz to transforming it into a coordinated dance of electrical pulses, let's discover how this unique property triggers an electrical reaction, orchestrating the unalterable precision of the quartz movement.

The Electric Circuit: The Coordinated Dance of Electrical Impulses

At the heart of the meticulous mechanics of a quartz movement watch lies an electrical ballet orchestrated by a sophisticated circuit. Let's dive into the details of this subtle network that transforms the vibrations of the quartz resonator into a regular beat, punctuating time with unparalleled precision.

The quartz resonator, shaped in the shape of a tuning fork, vibrates with impressive consistency at a frequency of 32,768 Hz (2^15 vibrations per second), revealing its piezoelectric capacity. These vibrations, the pulsation of the watchmaking heart, are the starting point of electrical synchronization.

Conversion of Vibrations into Electrical Impulses:

Once the quartz resonator has established its tempo, the integrated circuit comes into play. This crucial component of the watch is responsible for converting these vibrations into precise electrical impulses. It acts as the translator of the vibrational language of quartz into that understood by electronic components.

Frequency Division:

At the basis of this conversion is a frequency division process. The quartz resonator having a frequency of 32,768 Hz (= 2¹⁵), the integrated circuit deploys 15 division stages (because 32,768 = 2¹⁵ and therefore 32,768÷(1/2)¹⁵ = 1), dividing 15 times successively by two the frequency of the oscillator using down counters to obtain an output frequency of 1 Hz (one pulse per second). This subtle cascade ensures that each electrical pulse emitted is perfectly calibrated, ensuring impeccable temporal precision.

The Crucial Role of the Battery:

In this delicate electrical balance, the battery plays a role of primary importance. As an energy source, it provides the necessary power for the entire process. It is this which impulses the first energy to the circuit, thus initiating the electrical sequence which gives life to each tick of the watch.

In summary, the quartz resonator, the integrated circuit, and the battery converge harmoniously to create a temporal symphony. Each, with its unique function, contributes to the coordinated dance of the watch hands, offering a watchmaking experience that marries the precision of quartz with the elegance of the passing of time.

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