IEC 60086-3:2021 – Watch Batteries

A gold rolex with IEC 60086-3:2021 watch batteries properly fitting inside under standard conditions.

For the primary batteries of watches, IEC 60086-3:2021 – Primary Batteries – Part 3: Watch Batteries offers a range of standard technical requirements, even giving “a menu of test methods.”

Watch Batteries: A Unique Style

The batteries that power wristwatches stand out in their shape, function, and even abundance. While watch batteries are readily available, odds are you don’t have a drawer in your home devoted to spares.

Watches are as much statements of style as they are devices for telling time, and style long predates electricity. While Peter Heinlein’s model, the Watch 1505, is credited as the first timepiece, the first wristwatch was made in 1868 for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary.

For centuries, mechanical watches reigned as the main form of timepieces. These devices use a mechanism driven by a spring that transmits its force to a series of gears that power the balance wheel, which oscillates back and forth. An escapement releases the watch’s wheels to move forward at a constant rate with each swing of the balance wheel.

Throughout World War I, wristwatches proved invaluable for helping military leaders conduct precision attacks. In the decades before and after this historic time, you can see the technology that led to battery-powered watches begin to emerge.

In 1880, Pierre Curie discovered piezoelectricity. Drawing from the timekeeping ability of this quartz technology, Warren Marrison to created a large clock in 1927. The first watch batteries emerged in 1954 at the Hamilton Watch Company and a few years later became a component of their electric watch, the Hamilton Electric 500—the first electric wristwatch unveiled to the public.

Seiko would follow up in the 1960s with the production of the first quartz wristwatches. The decade that followed saw watch batteries handling even more power with LED digital watches. At the time, these were highly fashionable. In fact, Roger Moore had one strapped to his wrist in Live and Let Die at the start of his tenure as 007.

For decades, numerous companies have produced battery-powered watches, and the interoperability and reliability of these devices continues to keep people on time.

About IEC 60086-3:2021

IEC 60086-3:2021 specifies dimensions, designations, test methods, and requirements for the primary batteries of watches. These tests and requirements adequately prepare watch batteries for their end use, not only helping assure that all electrical characteristics and standard dimensions, shapes, and sizes are met, but also preventing concerns like deformations and leakage, the latter of which is classified and broken down into grades in the standard.

Watch batteries manufactured with the purpose of complying with IEC 60086-3:2021 should be designated by a system of coded letters that are outlined in the document. The standard also provides codes for the sizes of watch batteries.

Changes to IEC 60086-3:2021

As the fifth edition of the standard for watch batteries, IEC 60086-3:2021 revises the previous edition that was released in 2016. It was prepared through joint work by IEC and ISO, being prepared by IEC technical committee 35: Primary cells and batteries, and ISO technical committee 114: Horology. This revision saw some technical changes, including:

  • Table 1, “Zinc systems L and S dimensions and size codes,” and Table 2, “Lithium systems B and C dimensions and size codes,” were reformatted. These tables are now divided by system, and dimensional tolerances were changed when appropriate. Cell sizes were removed or added based on the size preference of the market place.
  • The minimum values of l1 were reformatted in Table 3.
  • In Table 5, “Standardised electrochemical systems,” the minimum OCV (open-circuit voltage) for the S system was changed to 1.55 V.

IEC 60086-3:2021 – Primary Batteries – Part 3: Watch Batteries is available on the ANSI Webstore.

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