What's the Difference? Japanese Movement vs Swiss Movement

Watch Guide: Japanese Movement and Swiss Movement

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Tick, tick, tick... The movement of a watch is like a steady heartbeat. And like your heart, without this movement, a timepiece is dead. No ticks or tocks make it nothing more than a fancy man-bracelet with numbers and dials.

Some people don't pay attention to the movement when shopping for a watch, but it is undoubtedly one of the most important parts. In fact, movement will power the watch and determine if you have a durable timepiece!

When it comes to telling accurate time, quality movement is a must. Before we go into Swiss movement vs Japanese movement, we need to talk about the different types of movement.

Watch Movement Breakdown

There are three types of movement:

  • Mechanical

  • Automatic

  • Quartz

Mechanical Movement

Mechanical movement is like the Big Ben alarm clock we all had a few decades ago. You need to wind it up for it to run. As it begins to wind down, it slows down.

Although this is a classic construction, it isn't built tough. Mechanical watches need constant maintenance and repairs. 

Automatic Movement

Automatic movement is a fine piece of craftsmanship, made by human hands, not machines. It doesn't need winding or rely on batteries. Instead, it runs "automatically" through the natural movement you create when you wear it.

Although this may sound alluring, these mechanisms are expensive and fragile. They often have precious stones like rubies inside of them!

If you want to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars on an engineered masterpiece, then automatic movements are for you.

With art comes sacrifice and automatic movement makes no exception. Despite being aesthetically pleasing, the movement isn't reliable or accurate, and it could break if you breathe on it wrong.

Quartz Movement

Quartz watches have an electronic circuit board, synthetic quartz crystal, and battery instead of mechanical gears, wheels, and other parts. All quartz timepieces use a button-style battery to power a quartz crystal oscillator.

When your watch "ticks" the quartz movement beats at 32,768 oscillations per second. The crystal's vibration operates a motor that moves the hands at a timely rate.

Quartz watch movement is affordable, and recognized for high stability and durability. A high-end quartz watch can last many lifetimes and continue to keep the time perfectly.

That's one reason why Gear'd Hardware watches are renowned for their ability to take a lickin' and keep on tickin'. We use quartz movement!

Switzerland or Japan?

Now that we understand automatic vs quartz movement better, where did the Swiss and Japanese come into play?

Watch movement needs to be built somewhere!

Most watchmakers choose either Swiss or Japanese movements for their high-end models. So Swiss movement is made in Switzerland and Japanese movement is made in Japan.

But it's a little more complicated than the country of origin. Let’s look at some of the distinctions of the two movements along with their similarities, and why some people prefer one over the other.

Swiss Movement Watches

The Swiss watch industry focused on mechanical watch movement until Japanese quartz movement put many Swiss companies out of business in the 1970s. By the 1980s, they caught up and began producing Swiss quartz movement at a fraction of the cost.

Setting the bar for precision, the Swiss watch industry continues to be recognized for its strict standards for quality.

To be considered Swiss,

  1. The caliber must be constructed in Switzerland.
  2. The caliber inspected in Switzerland.
  3. 60% of the total value must come from Swiss-made parts before assembly.


Swiss movement must also be stamped with:

  • Swiss Quartz
  • Swiss Movement
  • MVMT
  • CTA

Swiss made watches have a long heritage in watchmaking and is designed with aesthetics in mind. When you buy a Swiss watch, you're not just purchasing a quality movement but a rich piece of history that's been assembled with care. Whereas Japanese movement quality can vary, the Swiss watchmaking industry is trusted to be nothing less than amazing.

Check out our Gear'd Hardware men's watches with Swiss Quartz Movement:

Japanese Movement Watches

On the other side of the debate, Japanese watchmaking is designed for precision with less emphasis on how the movement looks or what happened before 1970. Japanese quartz movement took the watch industry by storm in the 70s and has continued to remain on top with badass watch brands like Gear'd Hardware, Seiko, and Citizen.

Japanese movements are very practical and much more cost-effective since they're typically made on automated assembly lines.

But this doesn't mean they are lower quality. Through automation, companies can keep the cost of manufacturing lower while also creating a consistently precise movement.

Check out our Gear'd Hardware watches with high quality Japanese Miyota Movement:

What They Have in Common

For one, both are quartz movements, which means they are tough and can handle shock and bumps without skipping a beat.

Finally, both movements are high-quality and stand above mechanical and automatic movements in many ways making them much more practical for everyday use. No matter how hard you work or play, buying a watch with a Swiss or Japanese movement is an investment because they are incredibly reliable and will hold up after years of wear.

The Decision is Yours

If you’re looking for a men’s watch built to last a lifetime with superior movement, a stainless steel case, and sapphire glass, make sure to check out our line of Gear’d Hardware watches!