Today, many people use quartz watches and clocks - but what are they?
For most of humanity’s history, people used natural calendars based on how the Earth and Moon move around the Sun to keep track of various parts of their lives and ancestry.
This kind of astronomical timekeeping was certainly accurate and it worked for their needs. Now the world is an entirely different place where we all need to know what the time is! We not only have to know what day it is but what hour and minute…even seconds! We all have to be synchronized so we turn up to appointments and meetings when others expect us to.
Imagine turning up to a meeting and only half the people were there. The rest didn’t show because it was cloudy and the sundial didn’t throw a shadow! These days we need more accurate and accessible ways to tell the time.
We invented mechanical watches and pendulum clocks which have many tiny moving parts.
Quartz, one of the most common minerals on Earth, is inexpensive and the timepieces that use it need very few moving parts. That's why it's now used in even the most inexpensive clocks and watches. Because quartz is so accurate and reliable, it's a big selling point—which is why watches like this are advertised as being quartz.
Quartz watches are powered by a battery and these batteries often last years before they need replacing. They have tiny gears inside them which count the seconds, minutes, and hours and move the hands around the watch/clock-face. These gears are regulated by a tiny crystal of quartz.
So, when you see an inexpensive watch it can still be a good timekeeper. It is inexpensive because it is a quartz watch with a battery and very few moving parts. It has the capacity to work for you for years to come.
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