The Movement

But first, some education…

Often when talking about watches, people refer to the movement of the watch. This is basically the motor that runs the watch on the inside. Today, the main two types of movements, are quartz and mechanical. Since the late 1970’s, early 80’s, quartz watches became the dominant type of movement used in watches, with mechanical watches being used more rarely.


A quartz movement

Most affordable watches use a quartz movement, also known as a battery powered movement. These movements are really cheap to produce, and do have many advantages such as being really accurate, cheap to produce and reliable. Although quartz movements have been around since the 1950’s, they really only became popular in the 1980’s, when they were made more compact and were used in wristwatches. It was at this point that there was a massive change in the history of wrist watches. With mass production in Asia many of the traditional mechanical watch makers in Switzerland went out of business, refusing to switch to quartz.

The intricate detail of Rolex Daytona movement
The intricate detail of Rolex Daytona movement


Mechanical movements are still popular today but are seemingly reserved for the more high end luxury watches such as Rolex and Omega. In fact, it is most often the movement inside the watch that contributes to the really high price tags of these watches. These companies have spent decades of R&D on their movement, refining and honing these intricate little machines. Most watch enthusiasts consider mechanical movements impressive because of all this R&D that has gone into the movement, marvelling at how such intricate machines can fit on your wrist.

An automatic mechanical watch employs a rotor that swings in a central pivot to charge the mainspring. Instead of having to manually wind your watch every few days, all you have to do is wear it and your bodies motion will rotate the rotor, and keep the watch charged.

The advantage of an Automatic Mechanical movement is that it will never require batteries, since it charges with the movement of your body. While not as accurate as a quartz, mechanicals do have a sense of prestige. Many mechanical watches have glass windows on the back to observe the beautiful movement as it ticks away. Another give away that a watch is mechanical, it that they have a sweeping second hand, i.e. the second had will move smoothly between the seconds instead of striking each second with a ‘tick-tock’ motion. If you look at the way a second hand moves on a Rolex, you’l see what I mean.

Quartz watches are dime a dozen. If you take a walk into your local watch or jewelry store, 90% of the watches there will be quartz. Autimatic Mechanicals however are much rarer because they are harder to produce.

Our Movement

The NH35a without the rotor
The NH35a without the rotor

For the Tugela, we wanted to make a watch that payed tribute to the watch makers of old, using an automatic mechanical movement. We sourced a movement that is made by a reputable watch company (Seiko), but still in the fashion of a Swiss mechanical movement. The NH35a is a tried and tested automatic mechanical movement that is often considered on par with some of the entry level Swiss movements. It is robust, and accurate and can often go for many years before needing a service.

The specs for the NH35a are as follows:

  • Jewels: 24
  • Vibrations per hour: 21,600bph
  • Power Reserve: 41 hours
  • Winding direction: Bi-directional
  • Hacking: Yes

*Hacking means that the second hand will stop moving, allowing you to synchronise and set the time accurately.
*Bi-directional winding means that the rotor winds the watch when it moves clockwise and counter-clockwise. For more info on what jewels are feel free to Google!

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