Automatic quartz

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Lorus (a Seiko brand) watch with glass back, showing clearly the swinging pendulum and meshing gear and pinion of the Seiko Kinetic movement
Seiko SKA369P1 Kinetic Diver's 200 m (tool watch suitable for scuba diving) using a 5M62 caliber Kinetic movement.
Seiko SNL043 Kinetic Chronograph using a 7L22 caliber Kinetic movement with flyback chronograph.
'Seiko Quartz Automatic Generating System' (A.G.S. = early Kinetic), Perpetuum Nobile (produced in 1989), Cal. 7M45, No. 246 of 700
Seiko AGS SCUBA Diver 200m 5M23-6A60, 1993

Automatic quartz is a collective term describing watch movements that combine a self-winding rotor mechanism (as used in automatic mechanical watches) to generate electricity with a piezoelectric quartz crystal as its timing element. Such movements aim to provide the advantages of quartz without the environmental impact of batteries. Several manufacturers employ this technique.

Mode of operation[edit]

A rotating pendulum inside the case is attached to a relatively large gear which meshes with a very small pinion. As the wearer moves, the pendulum turns and spins the pinion at a very high speed - up to 100,000 rpm. This is coupled to a miniature electrical generator which charges a storage device which is a capacitor(s) or a rechargeable battery. A typical full charge will last between two weeks and six months.



Japanese company Seiko pioneered the technique which it unveiled at the Baselworld 1986 trade show under the trial name AGM.[1] The first such watch was released in Germany in January 1988 and April of the same year in Japan (under the name Auto-Quartz).[2] The watches had an average monthly rate of ±15 sec and provided 75 hours of continuous operation when fully powered. Early automatic quartz movements were called AGS (Automatic Generating System); in 1991 the company introduced the Kinetic brand name. Today Seiko offers a wide range of watches with various Kinetic movements. The top of the line is the caliber 9T82, included in Sportura (international brand) and PROSPEX (only marketed in Japan) Collection. It is sold in limited volume at a price range of about US$3000 which makes it one of the most expensive automatic quartz watches. Kinetic technology has also been used in some of Seiko's Pulsar and Lorus watches. As of 2007, Seiko has sold more than eight million automatic quartz watches.[1]

The different calibres of Kinetic watches currently are relatively large and heavy, weighing in at 1/3 of a pound (150 grams) or more on many models. Therefore, most Seiko Kinetic watches are only available in a men's size.

Movement calibers[edit]

  • 1M20
  • 3M21 3M22
  • 3M62
  • 4M21
  • 4M71
  • 5D22* 5D44* (Direct Drive)
  • 5D88 (Direct Drive Moonphase)
  • 5J21* 5J22* (Auto Relay)
  • 5J32* (Auto Relay)
  • 5M22 5M23 5M25
  • 5M42 5M43 5M45 5M47
  • 5M54* (Retrograde Day Indicator)
  • 5M62* 5M63* 5M65(GMT)*
  • 7D46* 7D48* 7D56* (Auto Relay, Perpetual Calendar)
  • 7L22* (Flyback chronograph)
  • 7M12 7M42
  • 7M22 7M45
  • 9T82* (Chronograph)
  • YT57* YT58

(*) In use as of at Aug-2008

Implementation faults[edit]

  • Some watches made before the year 2000 brought faulty capacitors with a reduced life span in the ESU (Electricity Storage Unit). These capacitors had to be replaced after a few years. Newer models already bring a titanium lithium ion rechargeable cell (lithium–titanate battery) . This cell, sometimes called a secondary battery, enables the ESU to store more energy for a longer period of time. With the currently made 5M62/5M63/5M65 movements, the result is reserve power for up to six months on a full charge. An older Kinetic caliber like the 5M42, only runs for two weeks on its reserve power. Neither the capacitors nor the rechargeable cells have an indefinite life and will eventually require replacement, although Ti-Li-ion cells have been shown to retain 80% of their capacity even after 20 years.[citation needed] The Ti-Li-ion cell can be retrofitted to earlier watches in place of the original capacitor (the necessary parts — a Maxell Ti-Li-ion cell, and an adapted insulator and cover plate — are included in a Seiko parts kit).[3] Primary batteries, such as silver oxide cells, must NOT be used and it is important that repair technicians are familiar with the Kinetic movement to avoid this mistake.
  • Some calibers have the backlash phenomenon; tilting the watch from side to side occasionally caused the minute hand to fall around somewhere between half a minute and a full minute, this phenomenon is completely normal for quartz watches generally. It is more commonly a slight play in the minute hand seen in Seiko quartz movements that amounts to perhaps 1/12 to 1/6 of a visible minute between minute notches on the dial. This is only noticeable when the case is held motionless and the long hand is watched repeatedly and singlemindedly and only occurs rarely, at least in Seikos with movements manufactured in the last 15 years. Most of the time, the minute marks are hit either dead on, or so close as to hardly be noticeable. Also this does not affect the actual time keeping in the slightest, which is very precise, even by quartz watch standards. As noticed, it appears that any tendency for the long hand to come up short by the same fractional distance is related to the date dial turning at the same time between 22:00 and 00:00. The amount of actual daily time when this would occur is only about one hour. The phenomenon still exist today as reported by some SEIKO customers. This is a rare phenomenon that affects some of the new kinetic diver's watch using a 5M62 caliber with larger minute hand. As described by SEIKO, the gear is unable to sustain the weight of the minute hand but the degree of the minute hand's free or loose movement is within SEIKO standard and does not compromise the watch's performance or functionality.


Omega Seamaster 200 Omegamatic. This watch uses Omega caliber 1400 (ETA 205.111 Rhodium plated).
Swatch Swiss Autoquarz, 1998

Swiss company ETA SA, part of the Swatch group, made seven different automatic quartz movements, calling them Autoquartz. They were part of the premium Flatline series of movements and were sold to a variety of watch vendors, primarily European and American. High grade movements designed to last as long as their premium mechanical movements, they had between 15 to 53 jewels. Unlike most quartz watches, Autoquartz could be calibrated to increase their accuracy. Several vendors had their Autoquartz watches COSC certified. In 2006 to increase production of its highly demanded mechanical movements, Swatch discontinued supplying the Autoquartz line to customers (service and parts are still available). Then in 2009, possibly due to available production capacity or stocked parts, Tissot reintroduced the Autoquartz in its PRC200 dive watch. The Autoquartz movement used by Tissot is gold plated and carries the designation ETA 205.914.

Movement calibers:

  • 204.901 (small 8.75 lignes used primarily in women's watches)
  • 204.911 (replacement for the 204.901 upgrading from a capacitor to a rechargeable battery)
  • 205.111 (discontinued and replaced by the 205.911 which upgraded from a capacitor to a rechargeable battery)
  • 205.711 (15 jeweled movement used only by Swatch Watch for a variety of its fashion watches)
  • 205.911 (the most commonly available movement having 17 jewels and often ordered in gold plating)
  • 205.914 (no information available from ETA)
  • 205.961 (a 205.911 with the addition of a GMT hand)
  • 206.211 (a 205.911 fitted with a Dubois Depraz 2021 to make a chronograph. With 53 jewels the most jeweled quartz movement ever made)

Manufacturers who employ or employed ETA movements: Tissot, Rado in their Accustar line of watches, Longines, Swatch, Omega (Omega Seamaster Omega-matic), Dugena (K-Tech), Wenger (GST Field Terragraph Autoquartz), Hermès (Nomade), Roberge (Altaïr), Mido (Multifort), Bovet (Autoquartz calibre 11BQ01), Fortis (Spacematic Eco), Belair (Autoquartz), Franck Muller (Transamerica), HTO (Grand Voyager) and Cyma.


Citizen, one of the world's largest watch manufacturers, also built an autoquartz-powered watch: the Eco-Drive Duo (released in December 1998).[4] Novel to this watch was the use of both mechanical power as well as a solar cell. This model was an attempt to enter higher-priced markets (at a cost of around $1000 USD), but the technology failed to attract consumer interest and Citizen has since stopped making use of the unique movement. No other autoquartz powered watch from Citizen is known; all other Eco-Drive models only use solar power or thermal power.


Ventura is a small Swiss watch manufacturer claiming to be "the World's only manufacturer of automatic digital watches". Their VEN_99 movement was the only watch to ever combine autoquartz and digital readout of time (LCD) in one package. Offered were three models: the Sparc rx, fx and px. In late 2006, the company started selling their movement with an incorporated alarm, another exclusive feature. All hardware is proprietary to Ventura.

In 2007 the company went into bankruptcy.[5] Support was available from an independent entity. In 2011 the company re-emerged from bankruptcy and continued to sell its models, introducing the "2nd gen Micro-Generating-System" and marketing the watch (Sparc MGS) integrating it as the world's first and only digital-readout multi-function automatic quartz module.[6] Unlike with other manufacturers the watch movement (VEN_10) and power source (MGS) are separate units, only linked by a single wire.


In spite of the relatively complex mechanical parts used, Seiko has positioned their kinetic watches to be medium-priced. Exceptions are kinetic with other complications such as chronograph movement 9T82, 7L22 and direct drive movements. ETA sold Autoquartz to a variety of Swiss manufacturers with pricing below $100 (Swatch) to multiple thousands (Omega, Baume et Mercier, et al.).[citation needed] Ventura prices its automatic quartz watches at around 2000-4000 Euro.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "SEIKO Kinetic. 20 years of success" (Press release). Seiko. 2007-04-12. Archived from the original on 12 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  2. ^ "Seiko AGS Quartz Watch: The world's first automatic power generating quartz watch". Seiko Epson Corp. Archived from the original on 2007-03-11. Retrieved 2007-01-18. 
  3. ^ "Seiko Kinetic capacitor replacement". Retrieved 2011-01-15. 
  4. ^ "Brand History". Citizen Watch Co. Retrieved 2012-02-12. 
  5. ^ Chuck Maddox’s Watch Blog: Sad news to report, the loss of an innovator...
  6. ^ Krupp, Alexander (22 May 2011). "Ventura: Rückkehr einer Uhrenmarke". Retrieved 3 January 2012. 

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