This article is created for those who are not so familiar with watches in technical asbect. In normal use, wristwatch owner see only visually important parts of the watch like case, dial, hands and strap, but which keep watch ticking. Let´s find out…

Simply, but true. A watch movement or caliber is what makes it tick. Movement is often described the “heart of a watch” since it’s the actual mechanism that drives a watch hands and powers their complications including chronograph, dual time zone or a calendar. Powering all time keeping functions, movement is a fundamental component in a watch.

Today there are countless watch movements types using proprietary inventions developed by manufactures; however, each of them falls into one of these three categories; quartz, manual wind movement, and automatic movement.

The Quartz movement

The quartz movement was first introduced by the Japanese watch giant Seiko, in 1969. The introduction of the quartz movement shook the traditional timepiece houses who heavily powered their watches using the mechanical movement. This sparked a competition across the board, with many renowned watch companies releasing their own versions of the quartz timepieces, ultimately leading the world to an era of watches operated by battery.

How quartz movement works

As aforementioned, a quartz watch is powered by a battery which sends its electrical signal through crystal quartz. Consequently, the quartz crystal vibrates 32,768 times every second to create a signal with precise frequency. A special circuit measures the vibrations and converts them into pulses every second. These vibrations keeps movement oscillating and through motor, watch hands consistently moving.

The mechanical hand-winding movement

Hand-wound movements are in disputably the oldest types of watch movements available today. Though widely unknown to many, the hand-winding movement preceded the quartz technology by close to a thousand years. They are actually considered the most traditional and oldest watch movement. The mechanical movement is often referred to as “hand-wound” since it gets manually wound by hand to build energy in the mainspring of the watch.

Unlike the quartz technology whose movement is powered by a battery, the hand-wound movement harnesses the energy stored in a repeatedly wound spring. These great old inventions are often loved for their elegant display of watch movements that can be seen through the case back. Oftenly, hand-wound watches intricate mechanism can well be described as art. They deserve the term timepieces, accessories and collector’s items.

How hand-winding movement works

Mechanical movement differs from quartz movement in that it uses the energy from the wound mainspring for powering its movements, as opposed to a battery. The spring transmits energy via a number of gears and springs, in this way powering the watch hands and complications.

Automatic movement

Popularly known as self-winding, an automatic watch is essentially a mechanical watch that utilizes the kinetic energy generated from the user’s wrist. Manual winding is not necessary since the mainspring is automatically wound by the wearer’s wrist’s natural movements.

How automatic movement works

The internal mechanism and mechanical movement are similar. A rotor, which is a metal weight, is added to the manual parts. Rotor weight, which is connected to the movement, typically rotates freely. Usually, the rotor movement are in sync with the hand movement of user. As a result the kinetic energy from the wrist of the user gets transferred automatically to mainspring. Then power of mainspring is used to move hands of the watch.

Last words

There are wide range of watches available. These are available in wide range of prices, models, sizes, colours and types. Depending of your need and desire, you can choose the best choice for every day or occasion use. Overally, cheap watches has quartz movement and more expensive has mechanical movement. It is good to know that you can get automatic watch from 150 euros. Most popular automatic watches prices starts from 1000 euros and of course they are more sophisticated. The quartz watch benefits is that they do not need service so often than mechanical watches. Also, in hard conditions, they do not break so easily from big hit or impact. Anyway, it is richness of watch hobbying that what suits for yourself, does not suit for somebody else.


Mechanical watches and clocks have amazed people for centuries and now it is possibility almost every on build one. Timemachine.fi is now introducing very intresting project for watchmakers, watch hobbyists, engineers or people who just like to have fun with 3D-printer. 

Timemachine.fi introduces this amazing 3D-printed tourbillon which is fully functional. Creator of this masterpiece is Swiss engineer Christoph Laimer. Christoph is not a watchmaker. He has studied electrical engineering and working for 18 years for example in computer science inqustry.

“The Laimer Tourbillon is an innovative design with the heart beating highly visible in the core. The key function to indicate the time is direct and straight. Balance, escape wheel, tourbillon cage, hands, and barrel are all arranged co-axial. Gears for the transmission from the barrel, and the reduction from seconds to minutes and hours are placed behind the tourbillon in order to keep the design circular.

All parts are 3d-printed except a few screws and pins. The concept also includes a 3d-printed mainspring even though it is irrational (plastic is not elastic – it slowly flows and deforms). In order to make it 3d-printable, a lot of engineering effort was invested. The complete movement was essentially re-invented. The resulting timepiece works surprisingly well – of course, with it’s runtime and accuracy, it can’t compete with a conventional watch.The entire 3d-model is published and downloadable on Thingiverse. Many thanks to Nicholas Manousos for his great article in Hodinkee explaining the importance of my project from a traditional watchmakers perspective. Seeing his 3d-printed Tourbillon 1000% in action was very motivating to finish my work.” says homepage of Christoph Laimer.

The best part of this project really is that all 3D-models are downloadable in Thingiverse so all other persons can try to print and assemble very own 3D-tourbillon: 

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1249221

Check more details from this unique project from the inventor´s homepage where is also other intresting 3D-projects: http://www.laimer.ch/  and also Hodinkee website: https://www.hodinkee.com/articles/a-major-step-forward-in-horological-additive-manufacturing-christoph-laimers-3d-printed-tourbillon

There is another amazing 3D-project finished and project is 3D-printed triple-axis tourbillon by Adam Wrigley. Triple-axis tourbillon are probably one of the complicated subassembly to manufacture in watchmaking, because it needs hundreds of hours hand- and finishing work. Only few watchmaking companies are able to manufacture one. This one is also fully working and it has designed mechanical engineer Adam Wrigley at Frog design. Man himself is a mechinal watch fanatic. The final design consists of 99 parts: 34 printed parts, eight ball bearings, three metal shafts, two barbell plates, one meter of fishing line, and 51 screws. Read more about project from http://wornandwound.com/clockwerk-3d-printed-triple-axis-tourbillon-adam-wrigley/

If you are intrested to make your own, download all 3D-files of triple-axis tourbillon from Thingiverse: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1624844

If you have 3D-printer and you are willing to print your own tourbillon, you must have patient and time to print all parts. It can take up to 2-3 hours to print one part. Timemachine.fi encourage everyone to build own tourbillon! Go for it! Have a nice 3D-printing!

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