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Battery or Power Cell?

by J.Peter

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One of the less glamorous things I get to do as a watchmaker is to change batteries in quartz watches. While not very glamorous, it pays well. Quartz watches rely on an electric current both for accurate timekeeping and to pulse a motor which moves the hands. Most quartz watches have either a 1.5V silver-oxide power cell or a 3V Lithium power cell. Why do I call them power cells you ask?

There must have been a watchmaker at our store who was very insistent that power cells be properly referred to as such and not batteries, because everyone calls them by there proper name.

bat·ter·y [bat-uh-ree] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation

–noun, plural -ter·ies.

1. Electricity.

a. Also called galvanic battery, voltaic battery. a combination of two or more cells electrically connected to work together to produce electric energy.

b. cell (def. 7a).

2. any large group or series of related things: a battery of questions.

3. Military.

a. two or more pieces of artillery used for combined action.

b. a tactical unit of artillery, usually consisting of six guns together with the artillerymen, equipment, etc., required to operate them.

c. a parapet or fortification equipped with artillery.

4. a group or series of similar articles, machines, parts, etc.

battery. (n.d.). Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved January 21, 2008, from website:

So, you see while the battery in your car has several cells, the one in your watch is actually a single cell (not a group of them.)

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