In the second half of the XX century among other great events the world saw the birth of a new generation of watches — the watches that required capacitors.
Mechanical watches rely on you winding the mechanism on a daily basis, whereas in automatic watch a complex system does it for you while you are on the move. Quartz watches use energy from batteries (e.g. lithium coin battery) which lasts several years and then stops unexpectedly.
Kinetic movement is a new generation technology
First developed by Seiko, it was then adopted and used by other watch manufacturers under such names as Autoquartz, Powermatic etc.
Fully charged capacitors in the men's models can keep the watch going for up to two weeks even if you do not wear them. Ladies' watches can work on a fully charged capacitor for up to a week. These clever watches would warn your when they need charging by slowing down their second-hand by approximately two seconds.
In 1986 at Basel Fair Seiko unveiled its first Kinetic model. The movement was produced under the trial name "AGM" and became the first watch in the world to convert kinetic movement into electrical energy.
Now kinetic technology is a synonym of ecological production, quality and comfort for the consumers. First commercial model "AGS" was made by Seiko in 1988.
The year 1998 saw the appearance of Kinetic Auto Relay that can be dormant for up to four years. The magic here is that the watch seemingly "goes to sleep" if do not wear it but the moment you give it a gentle shake, it immediately "wakes up" to show you the exact time.
A real masterpiece Ultimate Kinetic Chronograph was unveiled in 1999 and combined the best of Seiko technology.
At BaselWorld 2005 Seiko presented ? Kinetic Perpetual watch which combined comfort and longevity of kinetic movement as well as an eternal calendar that shows exact dates up to the year of 2100.
Now Seiko also have got their Kinetic GMT watch which is perfect for travelers. The hour hand can be set without disturbing the accuracy of Seiko's unique Kinetic movement, and as Kinetic is powered by the movement of your body, this streamlined and refined new timepiece offers the international traveler a unique combination of elegance, powerful design and ‘set & forget’ convenience.
Light-powered (or solar-powered) watches were developed in 1976 and run exclusively on light as a power source. The technology is now known as "Eco-Drive" and can generate power from any source of light, whether it is natural, artificial and not very bright. Citizen has a wide range of exclusive solar-powered watches that work on Eco-Drive Technology.
What is a watch capacitor?
Capacitors in wrist watches are rechargeable elements that store and release energy to facilitate kinetic and solar-powered/light-powered movements of your timepiece.
Capacitors can store energy from a variety of sources of current, and in a watch, this amount of current is often very small.
It is commonly perceived that capacitors are perpetual — after all, they are rechargeable and that makes them ecologically friendly. Both Seiko and Citizen sell their watches as not having a battery. However, nothing lasts forever, not even capacitors. After about 7-10 years of a watch life they need to be replaced.
Capacitors store generated power for short term in the electric field of insulated plates and use. They do not contain chemicals to facilitate power generation. This makes them more environmentally friendly compared to the standard batteries. As opposed to capacitors rechargeable batteries stores its potential energy in a chemical form.
Eventually capacitors lose their ability to store power and become faulty
If you notice that your capacitor in Seiko or Citizen will store energy for less time, your watch stops immediately when you take it off the wrist, stops at night or charges too quickly when it stops — this may indicate that your energy unit, i.e. the capacitor, is defective or exhausted and needs replacing. It can happen due to the lack of use, excessive use or even extreme temperatures. If you want capacitor in your watch to last a really long time you must use it all the time, keep it constant temperature and humidity level but even then it will not last you forever.
Fortunately, replacements are easily available both for Seiko and Citizen capacitors.
Have a good week and keep up the good time with our Wrist Watch Revival Club
at GMT Classics