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Do Expensive Watches Tick?

September 26, 2021

You might have purchased an expensive timepiece wonder if it’s genuine. A great way to tell is through the sound it creates. So, do expensive watches tick? Read ahead to find out.

What Are The Type of Watch Movements?

The watch industry uses two main movements. They are quartz and mechanical. Automatic watches fall under the mechanical type.

Mechanical watches have a history that goes back centuries. They were the most popular until Quartz came on the scene. Quartz is cheaper to make, so they started to replace their counterpart towards the latter part of the 20th century.

Quartz watches consist of electronic oscillators to move the second hand. As you only rely on the oscillator, not only are they cheaper to produce but are more accurate due to fewer parts.

Due to their heritage, pricey units will most likely be mechanical. You’ll have to wind their crowns, to power and move their gears. The parts are fine-tuned so that when their hands move, they sweep. This results in no ticking sound being made.

From all the brands around, Rolex is known for its quiet watches.

What Features Should You Look for In Expensive Watches?

Before you splurge, consider the following. The absence of ticking isn’t the only thing to look for.


When you compare an expensive timepiece to a more affordable one, you’ll be able to tell the price difference between the two through their appearances.

The higher quality materials would help with this – some luxury Swiss and French manufacturers place real jewels in their dials. A lot of the time, this would be emerald.


Luxury pieces tend to come with many intricate parts, so they are heftier.

Higher quality materials also tend to be heavier. That’s why a timepiece that rocks high-quality sapphire on its display would have more heft than one that houses the synthetic variant.


When it comes to mechanical movements, some aspects affect how they tell time. For one, how many jewels do they have?

The most luxurious watches would have real jewels, possibly rubies. But for the most part, they’re coloured glass. They are different from the gems on the face; they’re placed between bearings, preventing friction from wreaking havoc.

The more jewels present, the smoother and more accurate the time would be. You can expect a pricey piece to have well over 35 jewels.

We have to tie this point to the above about appearance. Most mechanical and automatic units have cut-outs to let you peek at the gears. Expensive watches look rich – they don’t have large openings.

If you need to know one thing about mechanical watches, the way they work depends on their power reserves. Depending on the model, the hours in the reserve would differ. More expensive options can last up to 50+ hours. Now, what happens once the period has passed? You’ll have to wind its crown again.


What type of watch did you pick up? Each type has different features. For example, diving watches would have resistance ratings of over 660 feet (200 meters), pilot watches would have detailed chronographs and slide-rules, while units for hunting would have compasses. Price affects the quality of these features.

Let’s compare pricey dive watches to more affordable ones. They’d have incredible resistance ratings, probably over 1000 feet (300 meters). They would have high-quality luminous pigments – Swiss Super Luminova is a good choice to bet on.

You will see surgical grade stainless steel, hydrogen valves to prevent gas from collecting, and hard sapphire to endure the pressures of diving as well.

Silver Chronograph Watch On Snow

Do All Quartz Watches Tick?

At the beginning of our article, we mentioned that expensive watches don’t tick as they have fine-tuned gears in-motion. All mechanical watches sweep and not tick. The more expensive ones make absolutely no sound.

All quartz watches tick thanks to their oscillator. The loudness would depend on how many oscillations there are in a second. Pricier quartz pieces vibrate 16 times a second, which reduces the sound considerably.

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Final Thoughts

Let’s sum things up. More premium units have mechanical mechanisms. Compared to cheaper ones, they don’t tick as the movements cause the second's hand to sweep instead. Of course, a sound might be heard. But it won’t be a “tick”.

What’s great about brands like Rolex is that they fine-tune the gears so well that there’s virtually no sound produced.

Unfortunately, quartz watches tick, even the expensive ones. This has to do with their oscillator. Less sound would be produced if it moves multiple times a second, though.

Thomas Vanderlaan
When Thomas Vanderlaan was a child, the moment he learned about mechanical watches he was hooked. His first love being mechanical watches, he decided to pursue a career in engineering as he was entranced by the science behind its gears. As the years passed, his passion grew. Although he worked a hectic career as an automobile engineer, he’d always collect watches during his spare time.
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