Question re: quartz watches & EMP

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by Jeff Brackett, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. Jeff Brackett

    Jeff Brackett Monkey+++

    Still pretty new to the forum here, but I have a question regarding watches & EMP. I'm a writer, & am working on a novella in which the protagonist has a watch that is still working after EMP. Initially, I thought I was covered in putting an eco-drive on his wrist. Then it occurred to me that just because a watch is kinetically driven doesn't mean that it wouldn't be affected by EMP. A little research later, and it looks like my concern was a valid one. It appears that my Citizen eco would be toast in the event of EMP.

    I'm curious about a quartz driven watch, though. Does anyone have any idea as to whether or not the piezoelectric qualities of a quartz drive watch would be immune to something like EMP? I think I've about ruled out nearly any other watch for this character, and may have to resort to an "heirloom" pocket watch, but that just seems a little contrived.


    And thanks in advance. :)
  2. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    Any Crystal Based Timebase may be effected by EMP, that has enough intensity to either Fracture the Crystal, melt interconnecting Wires, or to cause the Timebase chip to fry... If the Crystal, just runs a Timing Wheel, in the Watch, and it does NOT Fracture, that watch will still keep time. ..... YMMV....
  3. Jeff Brackett

    Jeff Brackett Monkey+++

    (Sigh) Yeah, I just found an article that explains a little about how a quartz watch works, and it looks like that one is out. Either the quartz will power an LED (in which case the readout is likely to be fried), or it will power a miniature electric motor that will turn mechanical hands. Either way, the watch is likely toast.

    Crap. I was hoping to avoid the pocket watch scenario. I may have to think on this a bit more. :(

    Thanks for the reply.
  4. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Think the so-called "automatic" watches. Used to be known as self winding. Nothing in them to be affected, and probably last longer than a battery will in an electric watch. (At least mine has.)
    Guit_fishN, Sapper John and tulianr like this.
  5. Jeff Brackett

    Jeff Brackett Monkey+++

    Not sure why, but I thought these were similar to eco drive watches, in that they use motion to charge a battery. Thank ghu I was wrong. :)

    Did some quick poking about & may have found the perfect watch for my character.

    Thanks ghrit!
  6. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    There are others in case your character is not wealthy ---
    Several years ago, melbo started a thread titled (IIRC) "Whats on your wrist?" Might be a couple others there, I don't remember.
  7. Jeff Brackett

    Jeff Brackett Monkey+++

    Part of what makes this one so perfect is that the character is wealthy. He's an East Texas lawyer. Not incredibly wealthy, but comfortable enough that I could see this as a graduation present after law school.

    Thanks again.
  8. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    The automatic Citizen which used motion was discontinued. Most eco drive watches have a titanium lithium ion battery and a solar cell.
  9. Clyde

    Clyde Jet Set Tourer Administrator Founding Member

    In our family, we have passed down pocket watches. One was made in England in 1776. The other is from 1803. They must be wound every day.

    I was in a meeting in NYC with a billionaire developer. One of the guys I consult for was wearing an absurdly expensive watch when he notice what the billionaire was wearing. He said, what kind of watch is that.

    This led to the story. The billionaire had rolexes and other fine watches and they just didn't keep good time and he got pissed when he had to send them in every few years for general maintenance. One day he forgot to put on a watch. He told his assistant about it, thinking nothing. She picked him up a $35 cheap timex at Walgreens. He has worn it ever since and swears by it. He said, "this watch keeps perfect time and serves it purpose. At my age, who do I need to impress. I need to be to lunch on time and dinner on time so I can fall to sleep on time because my body needs its rest."

    Also many wealthy people wear vintage hand wind watches as part of their collection. Your character could own one of these and just so happen to be wearing it on the right day when the shtf
  10. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

    "Old Fashioned" wind-up watch movements are still available and sold. One, based on the Vietnam era military watch, is extremely popular, and runs about $55.00. No quartz movement, they are called "mechanical" watches. You can do a search for wind-up watches to get an idea of what is out there and available. I guess I am just that old that I remember when the common watches worn were all hand wound and quartz movements and electronic watches were non-existent or so expensive as to be extremely rare except on the wrist of someone who was rather affluent.
  11. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++

    I like the USMC issue vietnam era Hamilton mechanical watch. Only wrist watch I haven't been able to break. Never an EMP concern.

  12. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

    This exact watch is the one I am speaking of. Except the ones being sold are newly made, with the same innards and specs. Available on Amazon
  13. weegrannymush

    weegrannymush Monkey+

    But if we have to go back to using "mechanical" old-fashioned watches (I have more than a few in my jewellery box, none still functional) doesn't that mean we will have to either take a course in watch repair NOW - and just where would that be obtainable - or find some little old retired Swiss watch repairman to keep on a leash until the SHTF!! There's always a problem with everything we think of to do, lol! I think I'll just try to learn the tell the time by sundial or compass: I believe I read somewhere that the latter is possible???? Or we could go back to the hourglass or hour-marked candles - does anyone know anything at all about making them? I'm getting lazy and not doing my own research, this week only, haha...taking a break.

    Or does anybody have a good book (yet another one...) on the subject? The things we do in the pursuit of knowledge.....
  14. strunk

    strunk Monkey+

    The kind of guys who fix old cameras have almost the right combination of skills, experience, and tools to work on old watches. The two technologies share a lot in common.
  15. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

    That is an option. Another option is to eschew watches all together. What are you expecting to have an appointment you need to keep? Say a 5:00 with your dentist after SHTF?

    Timing something in the oven? Mechanical wind up timers work just fine.

    Agreed, watches have a function in a mechanized, industrialized society. A massive collapse throws us back to pre industrial agricultural lifestyles.

    A sundial will work, uses no electricity, no battery, nothing to break, except the stick. That can be fixed easy enough.

    I seriously think we will be going down with the sun, except maybe in the winter time, and rising with the sun. Shifts of a watch at night are easy enough to time. Use the same timer you would for timing a casserole. wrap it in a scarf and put it in a pocket. The bell striker literally vibrates the timer. Set it for the maximum (1 hour each) and repeat a total of 4 times. That is a 4 hour watch. The wrapping in a scarf and putting it in a pocket not only muffles the sound (in some cases silences it totally), but keeps the timer on a person so when it goes off it can be reset.

    The manual, spring operated timers run about $2 a pop at Walmart. A very small investment will buy you enough manual timers to last a lifetime and then some.

    Forget to wind a manual watch and it winds down. How do you reset the time? Sundial will get you close enough for gubbmint work during the day.
  16. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

  17. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    I have printed off Sunrise / Sunset charts for my location(s) which will help me reset to within a minute ;)
    Guit_fishN and Falcon15 like this.
  18. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++

    I must be doing alright. I haven't forgotten to wind my Hamilton in ...well years. It's become as natural an activity as tying my shoes or putting on my holster.

    Remember, organization is a survival skill. If you're going to use a mechanical watch post SHTF, then now is the time to start wearing it. Get in the habit of winding it right after you put it on, or as soon as you're awake.

    Imagine how unnerving it would be to wake up in the dark and have no idea what time it was because your quartz watch was dead. Can you tell time by the stars? It's cold and raining, no stars visible. Are there 9 hours til sunrise, or two? Wouldn't it be nice to have a watch, and know that answer?

  19. carly28043

    carly28043 Monkey+

    I need a watch after the SHTF so that I can celebrate twice a year. No daylight savings time adjustments.
  20. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    You can find "vintage" (60s era) Timexs and Seikos that are self-winders for < $100. My dad has worn the same self-winding Seiko from Vietnam to now.
    Falcon15 and Idahoser like this.
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