Quartz watches and microwave ovens

Thread: Quartz watches and microwave ovens

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  1. #1
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    Quartz watches and microwave ovens

    I seem to have microwaved my watch :) (and no, I didn't put it inside the oven).

    It's a cheap NoName watch that I bought for about 3$, and I don't really care about it. I'm just trying to figure out what has happened - can a microwave destroy a quartz watch?

    I've bought a new microwave few days ago, and so far I only used it for warming up various foods (with the watch on my hand, of course), so the oven was working for 60 seconds at most. This morning I was baking some pie, and it took about 10 minutes. I was curious about the new microwave, so while it was cooking I was standing very close, and several times I was feeling with my hands warm air that comes out of the vents, in short - behaving like a 10-year old. After my breakfast I noticed that my watch has stopped. As I said, it's a very cheap Chinese watch. The case and bracelet are made of metal.

    I have it for almost a year, and most of the time it works fine. Two months ago it got stuck somehow while I was having a tendon repair surgery, but it was ticking and a few knocks and shakes revived it. This time it was completely dead. I opened it up, checked the battery, it was 1.44V which is fine. I've put it back and listened carefully, but there was no ticking. If I understand correctly the way analog quartz work - quartz delivers 32 768 oscillations per second, counter reduces it to one per second and delivers an electrical impulse to the electric motor. The rotor is made of permanent magnet. Now, microwave oven could have pretty strong magnetic field around it, but could it de-magnetise the rotor?

    Did anyone had similar experience? What happens to a quartz watch when it's subjected to strong magnetic fields?

    P.S. I hope this is the right forum.
    Last edited by miloske85; January 3rd, 2011 at 12:30.

  2. #2
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    Re: Quartz watches and microwave ovens

    Quote Originally Posted by miloske85 View Post
    I seem to have microwaved my watch :) (and no, I didn't put it inside the oven).
    Nuts, I thought that was what this thread was about and maybe there'd be a cool video to boot.

  3. #3
    Moderator Public Forum John MS's Avatar
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    Re: Quartz watches and microwave ovens

    Quote Originally Posted by miloske85 View Post
    I seem to have microwaved my watch :) (and no, I didn't put it inside the oven).

    It's a cheap NoName watch that I bought for about 3$, and I don't really care about it. I'm just trying to figure out what has happened - can a microwave destroy a quartz watch?

    I've bought a new microwave few days ago, and so far I only used it for warming up various foods (with the watch on my hand, of course), so the oven was working for 60 seconds at most. This morning I was baking some pie, and it took about 10 minutes. I was curious about the new microwave, so while it was cooking I was standing very close, and several times I was feeling with my hands warm air that comes out of the vents, in short - behaving like a 10-year old. After my breakfast I noticed that my watch has stopped. As I said, it's a very cheap Chinese watch. The case and bracelet are made of metal.

    I have it for almost a year, and most of the time it works fine. Two months ago it got stuck somehow while I was having a tendon repair surgery, but it was ticking and a few knocks and shakes revived it. This time it was completely dead. I opened it up, checked the battery, it was 1.44V which is fine. I've put it back and listened carefully, but there was no ticking. If I understand correctly the way analog quartz work - quartz delivers 32 768 oscillations per second, counter reduces it to one per second and delivers an electrical impulse to the electric motor. The rotor is made of permanent magnet. Now, microwave oven could have pretty strong magnetic field around it, but could it de-magnetise the rotor?

    Did anyone had similar experience? What happens to a quartz watch when it's subjected to strong magnetic fields?

    P.S. I hope this is the right forum.
    I think that your watch stopped again for reasons unrelated to the microwave. A $3.00 watch can die for a variety of reasons including poor electronics, intermittent electrical connections or dirt in the movement.

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  5. #4
    Member brandon\'s Avatar
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    Re: Quartz watches and microwave ovens

    Quote Originally Posted by miloske85 View Post
    I seem to have microwaved my watch :) (and no, I didn't put it inside the oven).

    It's a cheap NoName watch that I bought for about 3$, and I don't really care about it. I'm just trying to figure out what has happened - can a microwave destroy a quartz watch?

    I've bought a new microwave few days ago, and so far I only used it for warming up various foods (with the watch on my hand, of course), so the oven was working for 60 seconds at most. This morning I was baking some pie, and it took about 10 minutes. I was curious about the new microwave, so while it was cooking I was standing very close, and several times I was feeling with my hands warm air that comes out of the vents, in short - behaving like a 10-year old. After my breakfast I noticed that my watch has stopped. As I said, it's a very cheap Chinese watch. The case and bracelet are made of metal.

    I have it for almost a year, and most of the time it works fine. Two months ago it got stuck somehow while I was having a tendon repair surgery, but it was ticking and a few knocks and shakes revived it. This time it was completely dead. I opened it up, checked the battery, it was 1.44V which is fine. I've put it back and listened carefully, but there was no ticking. If I understand correctly the way analog quartz work - quartz delivers 32 768 oscillations per second, counter reduces it to one per second and delivers an electrical impulse to the electric motor. The rotor is made of permanent magnet. Now, microwave oven could have pretty strong magnetic field around it, but could it de-magnetise the rotor?

    Did anyone had similar experience? What happens to a quartz watch when it's subjected to strong magnetic fields?

    P.S. I hope this is the right forum.
    How did the pie turn out?
    "Oh, nice. So now we're quoting other people to sound deep." -alx007

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    Re: Quartz watches and microwave ovens

    I think if a $3 watch actually works for longer than one week, that is quite remarkable, and should be celebrated with a Thread!

    A $3 watch is a good source for a battery, nothing more!

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    Re: Quartz watches and microwave ovens

    Quote Originally Posted by John MS View Post
    I think that your watch stopped again for reasons unrelated to the microwave. A $3.00 watch can die for a variety of reasons including poor electronics, intermittent electrical connections or dirt in the movement.
    Yeah, maybe it was the electronics (and maybe that had something to do with the microwave).
    There's no oxidation or any dirt around the battery, and if there was dirt in the movement then the watch would be at least ticking and 'trying' to move.

    Quote Originally Posted by Janne View Post
    I think if a $3 watch actually works for longer than one week, that is quite remarkable, and should be celebrated with a Thread!
    A $3 watch is a good source for a battery, nothing more!
    Actually here in Eastern Europe you can buy lots of relatively useful cheap watches. I got a QnQ (or at least the label says so), that I bought for about 4$. It works for some 5 years now, and loses 1 second every 5 days. Other similar watches that I had also worked for several years.

    Quote Originally Posted by brandon\ View Post
    How did the pie turn out?
    A little bit overdone.

  8. #7
    Member hooyah22's Avatar
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    Re: Quartz watches and microwave ovens

    Quote Originally Posted by ulackfocus View Post
    Nuts, I thought that was what this thread was about and maybe there'd be a cool video to boot.
    me too, I got all excited for an awesome video



  9. #8
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    Re: Quartz watches and microwave ovens

    I think I know what was the problem.

    I measured the current with ammeter, and it draws 10-15 µA each second. That probably rules out the electronics. Then I took the watch apart (nail clipper is excellent for removing hands :D) and movement was filled with dust, there was even a hair inside, which I'm sure is not mine. Every part of it was covered with fine grained dust. I didn't know that they had sandstorms that blow through watch factories in China.

    So, microwave can't kill a watch, unless it's inside, but that could kill microwave too.


  10. #9
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    Re: Quartz watches and microwave ovens

    Quote Originally Posted by miloske85 View Post
    I think I know what was the problem.
    So, microwave can't kill a watch, unless it's inside, but that could kill microwave too.
    Are we SURE. Only a video can prove or disprove this for us...

    These guys have microwaved a bunch of stuff - including a watch.

    YouTube - Is It A Good Idea To Microwave A Wrist Watch?

    Short answer: No

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