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Quartz Clocks

These clocks are easily identified because they are powered by batteries. Quartz crystals are caused to vibrate by the energy from the battery. This mechanism of keeping time is extremely accurate, generally within 1  second a month. Their small size allows you to turn just about anything that can be imagined into a clock. For a person who is on the go, this is an ideal clock. It is virtually maintenance free with the exception of changing a battery once a year. Atomic clocks are similar, except instead of quartz crystals vibrating, atoms are vibrated to keep time and their accuracy is about 1 second in one million years! While this degree of accuracy isn't necessary for our daily lives, for NASA, it might mean the difference between landing a probe on Mars, or missing the planet entirely.


  • First and foremost is the need for a good battery. Make sure it has power. If you clock stops working, change the battery first. If it still doesn't work try another battery. Occasionally even new batteries are bad.

  • Chiming quartz clocks seem to run best with Duracell batteries. Some of the other batteries have a coating on the contact points that doesn't respond well with the movement.

  • As a general rule, change your battery once a year. Pick a time like New Years, your anniversary, or some day you'll remember.

  • A sick sounding chime, a pendulum not swinging, or the clock keeping bad time, are all indicators that the battery needs changing.

  • Make sure that the hands have good clearance with each other, the face of the clock and the glass, if there is any.

  • If the hour hand is "flopping," it can easily be fixed. Move your minute hand to the "12."  If the clock chimes, count hour is struck, then move the hour hand to that number and reach behind the minute hand center, to push the hour hand towards the dial. The hour hand is held on by friction and the center shaft it is on, is tapered. The closer the hand is to the face of the clock, the tighter it will be.

  • If you've done all of the above and your clock still won't work, your movement probably needs replacing. Sometimes the plastic wheels of the movement fail or the quartz crystals loose their ability to vibrate. In either case, they can not be repaired, so a new movement needs to be installed.

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