How Does a Kinetic Watch Work and What Is Kinetic Movement?

Written by Paul Morrison
| Last Updated on July 22, 2021

Kinetic watches are a mix of self-winding automatic and quartz watches.

This self-winding combination works great, and with the quartz timekeeping mechanism, these watches are incredibly accurate.

But what is kinetic motion? How does this kinetic/automatic watch movement work, and should you buy a watch with this movement?

Read on to find out.

Examples of Kinetic Watches

Seiko SUN065

Seiko SUN065

Seiko SKA791P1

Seiko SKA791P1

Seiko SUN033P1

Seiko SUN033P1

What Is a Kinetic Watch?

To answer how a kinetic watch works, we first need to learn what a kinetic watch is.

A kinetic watch is often called an automatic quartz watch, as it combines the idea of creating energy from movement as seen in automatic movement, and the idea of storing energy as seen in quartz movement. Said in a simple way, it generates energy from movement (such as shaking your hand), and stores this energy in a capacitor.

How Does a Kinetic Watch Work?

A kinetic watch works by transforming motion energy into stored energy. When you swing your arm, shake your hand, or move around, a rotating pendulum will move around inside the watch. This pendulum will then spin a pinion (up to 100.000 RPM), which in turn will cause a small electrical generator to charge an energy storage device (the capacitator). This capacitator will then slowly discharge, causing the watch hands to move.

The capacitator is connected to a quartz timekeeping mechanism. A quartz crystal will receive energy, causing it to vibrate. Every time the quartz crystal has vibrated 32,768 times, the system knows, that a second has passed. This is how the kinetic watch keeps track of time.

To simplify this, when you move around, the capacitator will charge up. This energy is then sent through a quartz crystal and used to keep the watch running. And that is how kinetic watches work.

This technology combines elements from automatic watches and quartz watches to achieve the best of both worlds: keep a watch running for a long time with a “battery”, without having to actually change the “battery”.

Kinetic vs Automatic Watch

Now that we understand what a kinetic watch is, and how these kinetic watches work, we have another question to answer:

Automatic vs kinetic watches, which one is the better movement, and what is the difference?

We understand if you might be a bit confused, as the two are very similar. After all, they both run on energy created by your movement. That said, there are some key differences to the build of the two types of watch movements.

Where an automatic watch is powered by a wound spring (the mainspring) and based on mechanical movement, a kinetic watch is powered by the capacitator and the quartz mechanism/movement.

An automatic watch won’t last as long as a kinetic watch, which is one of the big pros of buying a kinetic watch instead of an automatic one. The kinetic watch will also be more precise – but it’s not as prestigious.

So, which one should you buy? That’s up to you.

What Is Kinetic Watch Movement?

Kinetic watches contain kinetic movement. The movement is what’s inside a watch (an automatic watch contains automatic movements and so on for all kinds of watches), and this is what keeps it running.

In short, the kinetic watch mechanism (or movement) in the watch is what turns motion energy into stored energy.

But what advantages does this come with? And how does it affect running time? Read more about that below.

What Does Kinetic Mean?

The kinetic movement definition from Merriam-Webster is as follows:

“of or relating to the motion of material bodies and the forces and energy associated therewith”,

and is also described as:

  • Active
  • Lively
  • Dynamic
  • Energizing

If we relate this to the kinetic movements inside a timepiece, it makes sense. It runs on active motion, energy from your daily activities and everyday dynamics.

How Long Does a Kinetic Watch Last?

The kinetic watch can last anywhere from two weeks to six months. Kinetic watches will usually go into “sleep mode” if they’re not used for 72 hours. This is when the two weeks – six months will kick in. If the watch, against all odds, stops running, just shake it about and it’ll start again.

This “sleep mode”, look a lot like when automatic watches stop, but with the kinetic watch, you’ll have an energy reserve on top of that.

Do Kinetic Watches Have Batteries?

No, kinetic watches do not have batteries. They instead have something called a: KINETIC ELECTRICITY STORAGE UNIT (KINETIC E.S.U.), an energy storage unit that is completely different than conventional batteries.

This does come with several advantages. For one, you don’t have to replace the battery – unless the watch breaks of course, then you would need to have it repaired. Second, it’s rechargeble. A normal quartz watch with a battery will not be able to recharge but will need replacement.

With this movement, the watch will, in summary, contain an energy storage unit, not a battery.

Are Kinetic Watches Durable?

While this is a valid concern, it actually doesn’t apply so much to the type of watch, as it is more of a concern regarding the brand and the build of the specific watch.

Some watch brands are of higher quality, which generally transfers directly into durability. But if you’re looking for a specifically durable watch, you should look for a field watch – or just a “durable watch”.

So the answer is both yes and no – it all depends on the specific timepiece you’re looking at.

Kinetic vs Solar Watch

Kinetic vs solar watches is an entirely different conversation. These two, while self-powering, are quite different.

First of all, some similarities between the two. They both use external energy to create stored energy, and in both cases, you’ll end up with a watch that’s utilizing an energy storage unit.

Now, to the differences.

A solar watch utilizes solar energy. Connected to any solar watch is a solar cell. This cell will take in light and solar energy, and with the power of technology, the watch can turn this solar energy into electrical energy. This energy is then stored in a rechargeable battery.

A kinetic watch, as you know by now, utilizes motion energy – kinetic energy. This energy then moves a pendulum that spins a pinion. The pinion transfers energy to a capacitator and stores energy in a Kinetic E. S. U (Electrical Storage Unit), which is NOT a battery.

So, the storage method is different, but the method of powering the hands of the timepiece is the same – the use of a quartz crystal. Both watches, therefore, use quartz movement, but they’re combined with other movements – kinetic or solar, depending on the timepiece.

Again, which is better? They both work great and depending on your use case, you’ll find one better suited for you.

About Paul Morrison

For years I’ve been buying and selling watches as a hobby, which led me to the decision of starting Watch for Tomorrow. I write a lot of the content, and I enjoy doing it. The most important aspect for me is the guidance of buying watches as well as avoiding bad ones. There are many bad watches out there, that are just too expensive. Hopefully, I can help you find your dream watch!