Battery operated clock movements (or clock mechanisms) are truly a modern marvel. These “little black boxes” can easily last 15 or 20 years with normal indoor use, and they are accurate to within a few minutes a year. Normally they will operate for a couple of years on a good, fresh alkaline battery.
The truth is though, that there is a huge difference in quality between a cheap imported movement made in a third world country in factory with a dirt floor, a one made in a clean modern factory with a robotic production line. No one makes a better battery operated quartz movement than a robot. No human hair, sweat or parts of the employee’s lunch.
I am a lucky guy. In the nearly 40 years I have been in the clock parts business I have been able to visit factories all over Europe, Japan and China. Much of what I have seen is very impressive, like the factory I once visited where the quartz crystals used in clock movements and other devices are made.
It’s a “white room” operation that has a nearly “medical” level of cleanliness. This particular factory was in Japan and before I could enter I had to put on coveralls that covered by entire body, head and shoes. The latter was a problem because I think they had never seen a size 13 shoe before. After being properly clothed, I had to walk through a decontamination tunnel that removed any dust or contamination that was on my clothing before I could actually enter the factory itself.
On the other end of the spectrum I have also been in factories that were unheated with dirt floors. Factories like this just do assembly of clock parts that were normally made elsewhere. The problem is that making clock parts in a factory like this may give you a lower price, but you get what you pay for. Clock movements made in factories like this often do not last very long or run accurately.
A good example of proper assembly of a clock movement is the American factory that makes many of the Takane movements we offer. They are made here in California on a robotic assembly line. Before the actual parts that make up the clock movement are used, they are batch tested for quality before they are even loaded into the automated assembly line.
Early in the assembly process, the PC board containing a sealed quartz crystal is soldered robotically and all other electrical contacts made on the “electric block”. As the movements being assembled are traveling down the assembly line, a 1.5 volt charge is even passed through every movement just to make sure that the quartz crystal is oscillating properly. The movements are even packaged in the Styrofoam robotically. This is a clean operation.
Another quality factor is the materials used. For example, our gears for our American made clock movements are made in the same California factory, out of the best possible grades of engineering grade nylon. The copper coils, the machined threaded shafts and machined minute hand shafts are also made here in California. Regardless of if you make your own new clock designs, or use these movements as clock repair parts, isn’t your clock worth an extra buck or two to get a well-made quartz clock motor? See what the leader in American-made clock movements has to offer.