20 Types Of Watches Based On Movement, Functionality & Style

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock — the steady rhythm of a watch’s heartbeat has been a flawless representation of precision and elegance for centuries.

From the complexities of mechanical movements to the advances in modern smartwatches, the watch industry is a captivating realm where technology and functionality intertwine with style and fashion. 

Did you know? 

The world’s first watch, named Watch 1505, was crafted by German inventor Peter Henlein in 1505. It was made of a small fire-gilded copper sphere and an oriental pomander. 

We have come a long way since then. From the depths of the oceans (where diving watches accompany adventurers) to the heights of the skies (where pilot watches function with unprecedented precision), timepieces have evolved to fulfill specific needs while staying true to their timeless elegance. 

And let’s not forget the allure of luxury watches that represent the epitome of status and prestige. 

Below, we have explored the fascinating realm of timepieces, uncovering all different types of watches based on movement, functionality, and style. 

Watches Based On Their Movements 

1. Mechanical Watches

Examples: Rolex Submariner, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 

As the name suggests, mechanical watches don’t have a battery or any other electronic components. Instead, they rely on the energy of a wound mainspring to power the watch’s gear and hands. 

These watches evolved in Europe in the 17 century from spring-powered clocks, which were first developed in the early 15th century. 

Key components of a mechanical watch 

A) Mainspring: A tightly coiled mainspring is a power source of a mechanical watch. When it is wound, it stores potential energy. 

B)  Gear Train: As the mainspring unwinds, it transfers the energy through a series of gears called the gear train. The gear train transmits power and regulates the speed at which different watch functions operate. 

C) Escapement: It controls how much energy is released from the mainspring. It contains an escape wheel, a pallet fork, and a balance wheel. These parts divide the energy into small, regular intervals, allowing the timepiece to tick. 

D) Balance Wheel: It oscillates back and forth, serving as the timekeeping regulator. This back-and-forth motion is controlled by the escapement. The balance wheel is responsible for maintaining a constant and precise rate of oscillation. 

E) Winding and Setting Mechanism: You can turn the crown (a small knob on the side of the watch) clockwise to wind a mechanical watch. This tightens the mainspring, storing energy for the watch to run. You can also pull out the crown and rotate it in either direction to set the time. 

These types of watches are known for their artistry and traditional engineering techniques. They require regular maintenance, such as periodic cleaning and lubrication, to ensure their optimal performance. 


  • They feature intricate dials, beautifully finished movements, and luxurious materials
  • They can last for generations with proper care
  • Offers a unique and satisfying tactile experience


  • Expensive 
  • Less accurate than quartz watches
  • They are not as shock/impact-resistant as quartz watches 

Mechanical watches were the dominant form of timepieces for centuries, but their usage declined with the advent of quartz watches in the 1970s. 

However, they never completely disappeared from the market — they continued to be appreciated for their heritage, craftsmanship, and as luxury fashion accessories. They still hold a special place in the hearts of watch enthusiasts and connoisseurs. 

In recent years, we have witnessed a resurgence of interest in mechanical watches, with some watchmakers introducing new designs and innovations. The market for mechanical watches, particularly in high-end segments, has started growing again

2. Quartz Watches

Basic quartz wristwatch movement

Examples: Casio’s G-Shock line, Seiko Astron 

Quartz watches have a small electronic oscillator that is regulated by a quartz crystal to keep time. This oscillator generates a single with very precise frequency, making quartz clocks at least an order of magnitude more accurate than mechanical clocks. 

These watches were first developed in the late 1950s, and they quickly became the dominant type of timepiece in the world. This is because they are relatively inexpensive to develop, easy to maintain, and far more accurate compared to mechanical watches.  

Did you know? 

Seiko introduced the first commercially available quartz watch, the Seiko Astron, in 1969. This milestone marked the beginning of the quartz revolution in the watch industry.  

How does it work? 

At the heart of a quartz watch is a tiny piece of quartz crystal (in the shape of a tuning fork). It is piezoelectric, which means it can produce an electric charge when subject to pressure or mechanical stress. 

The natural vibration frequency of this crystal is very stable, usually about 32,768 vibrations per second.

The watch is integrated with an oscillator circuit to split this high frequency into lower, manageable frequencies. These frequencies are then fed into a resonator circuit, which utilizes the properties of the quartz crystal to maintain a stable oscillation. 

When quartz oscillates stably, it produces electrical pulses at a consistent frequency. An integrated circuit keeps track of these pulses and converts them into seconds, minutes, and hours, driving the clock’s hands or digital display. 


  • Highly accurate — they usually gain or lose only a few seconds per month
  • Affordable
  • Shock resistance 
  • Does not require any winding


  • Depends of battery 
  • Disposal of used batteries can contribute to environmental waste
  • Lacks mechanical charm

Today, Quartz watch technology is not limited to timepieces. It is widely used in electronic devices and communication systems, where accurate timekeeping is crucial. 

Many quartz clocks can be synced with external time references, such as GPS satellites or radio signals. This enables them to automatically adjust for time zone changes and ensure accurate timekeeping without human intervention. 

3. Kinetic Watches

Examples: Seiko Kinetic SKA649, Bulova Precisionist 98B251

Kinetic watches (also called automatic quartz watches) combine the features of mechanical watches and quartz watches. They use a combination of mechanical and electrical components to power and regulate their movement. 

Unlike traditional mechanical clocks that rely on a mainspring and gears, kinetic watches use a rotor, similar to those found in automatic mechanical watches. The rotor moves (in either direction) as the wearer moves their wrist.

The rotor is connected to a small generator that transforms the motion into electrical energy, which is ultimately stored in a rechargeable battery within the watch. The battery powers a quartz oscillator as well as other features of the watch, such as backlighting or additional complications. 


  • Accurate
  • Eliminates the need for regular battery changes
  • More environmentally friendly than conventional battery-powered watches


  • They have limited power reserve 
  • They need to be worn regularly to remain operational
  • More expensive than quartz watches

Since these watches combine the convenience and accuracy of quartz technology with the craftsmanship and winding mechanism of mechanical watches, they are a popular choice for watch enthusiasts. 

4. Solar-Powered Watches

Examples: Seiko Prospex Solar SNE549, Casio G-Shock GW-M5610

As the name suggests, these watches harness solar energy to power their movements. They convert light into electrical energy, which is then stored in a rechargeable battery. 

Solar-powered watches are designed to combine the preciseness of quartz timekeeping with the self-sustaining nature of solar energy. They are integrated with solar cells (also called photovoltaic cells), which are usually located beneath the watch’s dial. 

When exposed to light, these solar cells absorb photons from the light source. The photons excite the electrons in the semiconducting materials of the solar cells, causing them to move and generate an electric current. The current is then directed to a rechargeable battery within the watch. 


  • Sustainable and environmentally friendly
  • Can be recharged even under low levels of light
  • Have a long power reserve 


  • More expensive upfront compared to regular quartz watches
  • Can be damaged if it is exposed to too much light or heat

First developed in the 1970s, solar-powered watches have become increasingly popular in recent years. They are a perfect option for people looking for environmentally friendly and convenient timepieces. 

Other Types Based On Movements 

5. Spring Drive Watches

Examples: Seiko Prospex Spring Drive SNR043, Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGA211

Developed by the Japanese watch manufacturer Seiko in the 1980s, Spring Drive watches combine elements of mechanical and quartz watches to deliver the best of both. 

It features a patented mechanism, the Tri-Synchro Regulator, that integrates mechanical, electronic, and electromagnetic elements. This Tri-Synchro Regulator serves as a primary timekeeping component.

A spring drive watch has three main components:

  • Mainspring,
  • A quartz crystal oscillator, and 
  • An integrated circuit to precisely regulate the motion of the hands

The energy from the mainspring is transmitted to the glide wheel, a special component that transforms rotational energy into linear motion. This linear motion drives the Tri-Synchro Regulator. 

These watches are very accurate, — they typically gain or lose only one second per day. They are also very durable and can withstand shocks and vibrations. 

However, what makes spring watches unique is their smooth, sweeping motion of the second hand. It offers a visually captivating experience, resembling the fluid motion of a mechanical clock, but without the ticking motion. 

6. Chronometer Watches

Examples: Omega Seamaster Diver 300M, Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust

Chronometers are watches that have been officially certified by an independent testing body to be highly accurate. They are typically used in applications where accurate timekeeping is essential, such as marine navigation. 

They are certified by multiple organizations, including Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres COSC) in Switzerland, Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM) in France, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS) in Switzerland. 

The certification process involves a series of rigorous tests. These tests evaluate the watch’s accuracy in different orientations (crown up, crown left, dial up, dial down) and temperatures (warm and cold weather). The movement is tested over days to ensure stability and consistency in various conditions. 

These watches are often associated with quality craftsmanship, precision, and the watchmaking tradition. The certification signifies the watchmaker’s commitment to developing highly accurate timepieces. 

Watches based on their Functionalities 

7. Analog Watches

Popular Examples: Casio G-Shock, Orient Mako II 

Analog watches display time through hour, minute, and second hands rotating around the numbered dial or markers. The dial is protected by a transparent cover commonly made of mineral glass, synthetic sapphire, or acrylic.  

Most analog watches have a crown (a small button-like protrusion) located on the right side. It is used to set the time, and change the date and wind the watch (in mechanical timepieces). 

They are called analog because they represent time in a continuous manner, using physical mechanisms.  

Analog watches come in numerous designs, styles, and price ranges. You can choose a timepiece that suits your personal preferences, functional requirements, and fashion sense. 

8. Digital Watches

Examples: Timex Ironman, Suunto Spartan

As the name suggests, digital watches display time numerically using digits or segments (instead of using traditional hands on a dial like analog watches). They provide a clear and precise representation of time, making them easy to read and understand at a glance. 

The majority of digital watches are based on the quartz movement as the primary timekeeping element. An electronic circuit converts the quartz crystal’s vibration into digital signals to be displayed on the screen. 

Digital watches were first introduced in the 1970s, and they have evolved with advancements in technology. For example, their display can be an LCD, LED, or OLED. Advanced digital watches may include additional features like a heart rate monitor, GPS tracking, compass, altimeter, and barometer.

Digital watches have become the most common type of watch in the world. They are often favored for their ease of use, functionality, and accuracy, especially in practical or active settings requiring quick and precise time readings. 

9. Hybrid Watches 

Examples: Fossil Q Explorist, Garmin Vivomove HR

Hybrid watches combine both analog and digital elements in their design and functionality. They aim to blend the traditional aesthetics of an analog watch with the advanced features of a digital watch. 

First appeared in the early 2000s, these watches have become increasingly popular in recent years. Many of these come with built-in sensors to track fitness and activity levels. They can monitor distance traveled, steps, calories burned, and even sleep patterns. 

Hybrid watches, in general, have longer battery life than smartwatches. This is because the analog hands continue to function without relying on battery power, while digital components like display and tracking features require occasional charging. They can last for days or even weeks on a single charge.  

10. Chronograph Watches

AC 3030 MCB Chronograph

Examples: Omega Speedmaster, Seiko Prospex Chronograph

Chronograph watches include additional stopwatch functions alongside regular timekeeping features. They typically have two or three sub-dials that are used to measure short periods of time. 

First developed in the 19th century, these watches were originally used by engineers and scientists to measure time. In the 20th century, they became popular among pilots and other professionals who needed to measure short periods of time precisely. 

Some chronograph watches feature a tachymeter scale on the bezel or around the dial. This scale is used to measure speed based on the time taken to travel a known distance.

One can use the chronograph function in conjunction with the tachymeter scale to calculate speed or other relevant measurements. 

All in all, chronograph watches are a great choice for individuals who want a versatile watch that can be used for both everyday wear and sports or professional activities. 

11. Smartwatches

Examples: Apple Watch, Fitbit Versa

Smartwatches offer functionalities beyond conventional timekeeping. They integrate advanced technology, including computing power and connectivity, into a wrist-worn device. 

They are designed to be an extension of smartphones, offering convenient access to information, notifications, health tracking, and other applications directly from the user’s wrist. 

Smartwatches run on an operating system specifically built for wearable devices. The most popular operating systems are watchOS for Apple Watch, Tizen OS for Samsung Galaxy watches, and Wear OS for devices powered by Google. These OSs provide the user interface, manage applications, and enable various functionalities. 

While the concept of a smartwatch can be traced back to the 1970s (when the first digital watches with basic calculator functions were developed), it was not until the 2010s that smartwatches truly gained popularity and evolved into multifunctional devices.  

The global smartwatch market has seen significant growth in recent years. According to the Grand View Research report, the global smartwatch market will reach a value of $130 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of about 18.6%. 

Watches Designed For Specific Purposes/Functions  

12. Diving Watches

Rolex Submariner model 16610

Examples: Omega Seamaster, Seiko Prospex

Diving watches are specialized timepieces built to withstand the rigors of underwater activities. They are engineered to meet the needs of professional divers and recreational underwater enthusiasts. 

These watches are characterized by their water resistance, durability, and legibility in extreme conditions. Although most of them have a minimum water resistance rating of 200 meters, some professional models can withstand depths of 2 kilometers or more. 

Common Features 

  • Unidirectional rotating bezel, usually marked with minute graduations or a dive scale
  • High-contrast dial with large, luminous hour markers 
  • Screw-down crown ensures water resistance

Many diving watches adhere to the ISO 6425 standard, which defines the necessary features of divers’ watches. These timepieces undergo extreme testing to ensure they meet specific criteria for water resistance, shock resistance, magnetic resistance, legibility, and resistance to saltwater corrosion. 

While these watches are primarily built for diving purposes, their ruggedness and sporty appeal have made them popular among millennials for everyday wear and outdoor activities. 

13. Pilot Watches

Zenith Pilot Type 20

Examples: Breitling Navitimer, Hamilton Khaki Pilot

Originally designed for pilots, these watches are characterized by large, easy-to-read dials, luminous bands, and water resistance. They are also called Flieger watches or aviator watches. 

The large dials and luminous hands make it easy for pilots to read the time in low-light conditions, and the water resistance protects the watch from moisture and condensation. 


  • Large and legible dials
  • Oversized crowns
  • Water and shock resistant 
  • High contrast and anti-reflective Coatings

Over the past few decades, pilot watches have evolved beyond their original purpose. They are now appreciated for their timeless style and aviation heritage. They are favored by watch collectors, aviation enthusiasts, and individuals who admire the combination of classic aesthetics and practical functionality. 

14. Outdoor/Adventure Watches

Examples: Timex Expedition, Suunto Traverse Alpha

These watches are specifically designed for outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers who engage in activities like camping, hiking, trekking, and other rugged pursuits.

They are built to be tough and withstand the rigors of outdoor activities. Their sturdy cases are usually made of reinforced polymers, titanium, or stainless steel to resist scratches, shocks, and impacts. These materials allow watches to withstand extreme temperatures, humidity, and other environmental challenges. 

Most of these watches come with digital compasses to assist with navigation. They help adventurers determine direction and bearing, making it easier for them to navigate through unfamiliar terrain. 

Some include altimeters (to measure altitude) and barometers (to monitor changes in atmospheric pressure). These features help climbers and hikers assess changes in elevation, predict weather patterns, and make data-driven decisions during their outdoor adventures.

15. Luxury Watches

Examples: Patek Philippe Calatrava, Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

Luxury watches are high-end timepieces that are made with exceptional craftsmanship and exquisite design. They are often made from precious metals like platinum or gold, exclusive materials like diamonds or sapphire crystals, and exotic leathers. 

Watchmakers pay meticulous attention to finishing details. This includes intricate engravings, decorative motifs, carefully elaborate dials, and carefully polished cases. These fine finishes contribute to the overall aesthetic appeal of the timepiece.  

Luxury watches are usually associated with status, sophistication, and a longstanding tradition of watchmaking excellence. 

Brands like Patek Philippe, Omega, Rolex, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Audemars Piguet are widely recognized for their craftsmanship, innovation, and timeless designs. 

Almost all luxury timepieces are crafted to last for generations. Their high-quality and precision movements contribute to their durability and longevity. Moreover, certain models appreciate in value over time, making them sought after by watch collectors and enthusiasts.  

Watches based on Style 

16. Vintage Watches

Platinum Ref. 96

Examples: Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 96, Omega Seamaster 300 Ref. 165.024

Vintage watches refer to timepieces that are several decades old and possess a unique charm and historical significance. They are often sought-after by enthusiasts and collectors because they represent a bygone era of watchmaking. 

Some of them are highly collectible due to their historical significance, rarity, or association with specific brands or complications. Some represent important milestones in horological advancements or embody the spirit of a particular era. 

Omega Speedmaster Professional “Moonwatch” Ref. 145.012, for example, gained fame as the first watch worn on the moon during the Apollo missions. 

Discontinued models, limited production numbers, and unique variations significantly increase the desirability and value of vintage watches. 

17. Retro Watches

Examples: Timex Q Timex Reissue, Swatch Sistem51

Retro watches are vintage-inspired or throwback watches that evoke the style, design, and nostalgia of a particular era in the past. 

They are not actual vintage watches. Instead, they are newly manufactured timepieces created with modern technology, materials, and production techniques to ensure accuracy and reliability. 

Drawing inspiration from past trends, retro watches may incorporate vintage-inspired logo treatments, retro fonts and numerals, textured dials, and other design details that capture the nostalgic charm of the specific era. 

Since they are more affordable than genuine vintage timepieces, they offer an opportunity for watch enthusiasts to embrace a vintage aesthetic without paying higher prices. 

18. Fashion Watches

Examples: Michael Kors Lexington, Gucci G-Timeless

Fashion watches prioritize style aesthetic appeal over technical complexities. They aim to complement and enhance the wearer’s style and fashion sense, often reflecting the latest trends and designs. 

These watches commonly use quartz movements and feature unique dial designs and eye-catching colors to make a fashion statement. 

They offer a broad range of price points, which makes them more attainable for people who want to incorporate designer style into their accessories without investing in high-end timepieces. 

19. Minimalist Watches

Examples: Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield, Nomos Glashütte Tangente

Minimalist watches have a clean, simple, and understated design aesthetic. They embrace a less-is-more approach, focusing on key elements and eliminating needless embellishments. 

More specifically, they prioritize the primary timekeeping functions of hours, minutes, and seconds. In order to maintain a clean and uncluttered dial, they have no or minimal additional complications or features. 

Characteristics of a minimalistic watch 

  • Clean and simple design 
  • Slim cases and thin profiles
  • Minimal branding
  • Subtle details

These watches are favored by people who appreciate the beauty of simplicity and the elegance of understated design. They embody a sense of sophistication and refinement, offering a timeless accessory. 

20. Casual Watches

Examples: Citizen Eco-Drive, Fossil Grant

Casual watches are typically associated with a relaxed and informal style. They incorporate practical features like chronograph functionality, date display, and luminous hands for low-light visibility. 

What makes a watch a casual watch is subjective, and there is no single definitive answer. However, there are some common factors that contribute to a watch’s casual status. For example, they are

  • Comfortable and durable
  • Offer some level of water resistance
  • Come with various strap options to suit personal preferences, and
  • Offer versatility to match a variety of casual outfits and occasions. 

In summary, they embody a balance between style, practicality, and affordability. This makes casual watches a reliable choice for day-to-day wear. 

Frequently Asked Questions? 

What is the difference between a mechanical watch and a quartz watch?
Mechanical Watch Quartz Watch
Uses a tightly coiled mainspring as a power source Uses a battery as a power source
Mechanical movement with gears Electronic oscillator  
Accurate to 5-10 seconds per day Highly accurate (4 seconds per month)
Manual winding or automatic (self-wind) Requires battery replacement every 2-5 years
Less shock-resistant More shock-resistant
More complex and intricate movement Simpler and less intricate movement
Craftsmanship, traditional appeal Modern design, functional aesthetics
Prices vary widely, can be expensive Has more affordable options
Appreciated by watch enthusiasts Preferred for accuracy and convenience

Note: This table provides a general overview, and there may be slight variations within specific watch models and brands. 

What sets luxury watches apart, and what factors contribute to their high price tags?

Luxury watches are characterized by their unique craftsmanship, use of high-quality or rare materials, meticulous attention to detail, and association with prestigious watchmaking brands. The major factors that contribute to their high price tags are — 

1) Intricate mechanical movements with complications beyond conventional timekeeping, such as perpetual calendars, tourbillons, or minute repeaters. Development and assembly of these complex movements require a high level of skills, expertise, and precision. 

2) Luxury watches often use precious metals such as gold and platinum, high-grade stainless steel, and rare materials for bezels, dials, and straps. These materials add to the overall durability, aesthetics, and value of the timepiece. 

3) They are usually produced by renowned manufacturers with a long history and established a reputation for excellence. The brand’s heritage and expertise contribute to the perceived value and prestige associated with its products. 

4) Limited production, coupled with high demand, can drive up the price. 

5) Luxury watch brands invest heavily in R&D to innovate and improve their timepieces. This includes advancements in movement technology, manufacturing techniques, and materials used. The cost associated with R&D efforts is reflected in the pricing of luxury watches.  

What are some recent advancements and trends in the ‘watch industry’?

The watch industry is progressing, and various advancements and trends are shaping the market. The most notable advances and trends include

  • The rise of smartwatches — All smartwatches offer features like tracking and connectivity with smartphones  
  • The use of new materials — Carbon fibers, sapphire crystal, titanium, and ceramic offer several benefits like being durable, lightweight and scratch-resistant 
  • Vintage and Heritage-inspired designs — Many brands are reimagining iconic models from archives, appealing to watch enthusiasts who appreciate the timeless appeal of vintage aesthetics 
  • Hybrid watches — They combine traditional analog watch designs with smartwatch technology, offering advanced fitness tracking features while retaining the classic aesthetic of a traditional timepiece.
  • Bold Colors and exquisite dials — Intricate patterns, vibrant colors, and textured designs are gaining popularity. These trends allow people to add a touch of flair to their wrists and express their individuality. 
How big is the watch market? 

The global watch market size is expected to reach $124.44 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 5.02% from 2023 to 2028. 

The major factors driving this industry include the accelerated adoption of smartwatches and the growing inclination for luxury watches as a status symbol. New product launches by key players, such as Apple, Rolex, Fossil Group Inc., Casio, and Seiko Holdings Corporation, are anticipated to have a positive impact on the industry’s growth. 


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Written by
Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a professional technology and business research analyst with over 10 years of experience. He primarily focuses on software technologies, business strategies, competitive analysis, and market trends.

Varun received a Master's degree in computer science from GGSIPU University. To find out about his latest projects, feel free to email him at [email protected]

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