Timepiece Education


Fine timepieces blend artistry and engineering and can be endlessly fascinating to the initiated. Here’s a primer about what makes our watches and timepieces tick.

Watches vs. Timepieces

The history of the mechanical watch has roots in 1510 Germany, but it was not perfected until 1760 by the British. Today, most mechanical watches are produced in Switzerland. Timepiece enthusiasts often favor the mechanical movement watches because of the craftsmanship and attention to detail that go into their creation.


Quartz watches are powered by the interaction of quartz crystal and a battery and are the most common type of wristwatch found today.

  • Analog quartz watches use three hands representing the hours, minutes, and seconds to display time.
  • The modern digital quartz watch uses numbers on a liquid crystal display (LCD) screen to present the time.


Mechanical timepieces are not battery-powered, but instead make use of a hand-built internal balance wheel that oscillates back and forth in response to the steady unwinding of the mainspring. There are two types of winding mechanisms available in mechanical watches.

  • Manual winding watches require the crown to be wound by hand in order to wind up the mainspring.
  • Self-winding automatic watches use the natural kinetic movements of the wearer and gravity to turn an internal rotor, which winds the mainspring.


Most of the fine timepieces carried by O.C. Tanner are certified chronometers, tested and verified to meet certain precision and accuracy standards by the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres. For watches and timepieces engineered outside of Switzerland, the term “chronometer” is not regulated, but is subject to the exacting standards of the global horology community.


A complication refers to any feature beyond the simple display of hours, minutes and seconds, that complicates the mechanics of a timepiece. The more complications in a timepiece, the more difficult it is to design, create, assemble and repair.


Timepiece Services & Repair

O.C. Tanner employs a full-time, WOSTEP-certified expert watchmaker and horologist. What this means for you is quick and reliable service for all fine timepieces handled in-house, with much of the repair and upkeep happening as you wait.

Call our watchmaker: 801.517.3073
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