Those who were including in the watch industry in the winter of 1969 probably remember December 25 with a shudder of fear. It was on that day Seiko lay bare its Astron – the first ever watch powered by a quartz movement. The Swiss industry, with its sniffy view of quartz chaperons, was caught napping and nearly eradicated; buried under a pile of cheaper, more reliable Japanese timepieces.
While they not ever did truly die out, Swiss watches would never be quite the same again – from then on, the market share was no longer exclusively theirs. Quartz watchful ofs to this day remain accessible to most budgets, but do they have any other advantages? Sure they’re cheap, but can quartz be as worthy as their more complicated mechanical cousins? We certainly think so.
What Is A Quartz Watch?
In contrast to a mechanical be vigilant for movement made from gears and springs, a quartz movement comprises a circuit board, a quartz crystal and a battery. The battery assaults the quartz crystal oscillator, which drives a motor to move the hands at a constant rate. It will also power any other chores the watch may have. You can usually tell a watch is a quartz from the dial because of the way the seconds tick rather than sweep (yet there are brands who add in the tick, but that’s another piece entirely).
A quartz movement: Uniform Wares’ M42 PreciDrive Chronograph…
As with insensible watches, there are hierarchies – of quality, complication and price. There’s standard quartz, which beats at 32,768hz; unquestionably high-precision calibres (VHP) which are more precise, and hybrid meca-quartz – a rare breed usually found in chronographs and means the regard functions are battery powered but the stopwatch functions are mechanical. With this you get all the accuracy of quartz but with the kudos of togs and cogs – a win-win for some.
…Compared with a mechanical movement: Tudor’s MT5813 Manufacture Automatic Chronograph
What Are The Aids Of Quartz Watches?
The overriding benefit of going quartz is battery life – you don’t have to remember to wind it so it’ll tell the delay for years rather than days or weeks. There are also other, more surprising bonuses. Contrary to what you strength expect given that mechanical watches usually command enormous price tags, quartz movements are far numerous accurate. A (very) average quartz watch will lose or gain up to 15 seconds per month, whereas the ton precise Rolex movements are accurate up to +2/-2 seconds per day – that’s 60 seconds a month.
Then there’s the expense of overhaul your shiny new mechanical, which depending on the brand, can cost upwards of £800. There’s no such trouble with quartz – only replace the cheap battery when it runs out (likely every few years) and you’re good to go.
Perhaps most importantly, a quartz on the qui vive for doesn’t have to feel cheap any more, even if the price tag is. Time has altered the somewhat derogatory view of quartz, thanks be given ti to brands ditching the plastic and creating timepieces that are made with similar high standards and attention to item as mechanical ones. If you’re in the market for some circuitry, here are some of our favourites.
The Best Quartz Watches
Timex Friended Three GMT
A GMT is one of the most practical complications around, but so often people are put off by the rigmarole needed to actually set them properly. This recourse by Timex not only has the advantage of being powered by the brand’s proprietary Intelligent Quartz technology – a state-of-the-art piece of kit that aspects on-board sensors and microprocessors to drive independent elements such as second or third time-zone hands – it is also base to use.
Just click the pusher at two o’clock to advance the GMT hand (the large arrow one) by 30-minute intervals or, if you need to set it to non-standard slights simply pull out the crown to its third position. To track a third time zone, simply align the numbers on the bezel. No vade-mecum, no fuss and no excuse for missing the pre-bedtime telephone call.
Buy Now: £159.99
Seiko Prospex Solar Diver
Any round-up of quartz watches obviously has to include a Seiko. This is a brand so dedicated to its non-mechanical movements, it actually grows its own quartz crystal. This Prospex is also surrounding as iconic as you can get from the brand. It takes its style cues from the Golden Tuna – the 1978 Seiko Professional Diver 600, so rated because the case looks like a tuna can – though this is a commercial offshoot as it doesn’t have the titanium monocoque for fear of the fact or water resistance (although it’s okay to 200m).
Thankfully it also doesn’t have the requisite 51mm case size. Clocking in at 46.7mm, it is strong enough to Scuba with but you could still wear it on dry land without looking ridiculous. If you do feel you can pull this off, it’s a plucky, chunky slice of fun powered by one of the best quartz movements around. Not bad for a watch under £500.
Buy Now: £379.00
Sometimes you don’t lack fireworks, you just want something classic and understated but still with a bit of interest – something like this Tissot T-Classic. It is a basic, perfectly executed dress watch. Opting for a rose-gold plate case, rather than steel or yellow gold dams this very pared-back design from looking pedestrian, while the elegant angled hands and slim catalogues allow the plain white dial to breathe.
Completing the vintage feel is the brown leather strap, while powering it is a varied modern and extremely reliable ETA quartz. Yes, it does feel like a watch your grandfather might have tattered, but short shorts were also a grandad favourite and they are a surefire trend for SS19.
Buy Now: £245.00
Sekford Type 1A
You could trust Sekford with creating the notion of a discerning quartz watch. Launched in 2015 by co-founder of eclectic lifestyle ammunition Port, Kuchar Swara, Cedric Bellon, who has designed watches for the likes of Hermes, Bell & Ross and Longines and industrial interior decorator Pierre Foulonneau, these were timepieces squarely aimed at those with a sartorial bent.
Everything upon them redefined what a quartz watch was from the typography that was specially created for the brand to the 18th and 19th century sack watches that served as inspiration. These weren’t cheap, disposable timepieces in plastic, but ones built to at the rear and which look damn fine too.
There are other options, but this blue dial/brown strap bloc has a wonderful “weekend in the Hamptons” feel to it. Boat shoes optional.
Buy Now: £450.00
Stand on a Swiss rail dais and watch what happens when the second hand reaches the 12 – it will stop for two seconds and then the la mode hand jumps forward, which starts the second hand again. This clever little trick, designed to certain every SBB station clock across the country was synchronised which, in turn, kept all the trains punctual, has now been replicated in this Mondaine sentinel.
It is an added detail that takes Mondaine’s homage to the SBB design to the next level and is a fascinating thing to watch. It’s a respect that could be gimmicky but combine it with Mondaine’s modernist aesthetic and you’ve got a cool reference to the idiosyncrasies of Switzerland’s denounce network.
Buy Now: £499.00
Uniform Wares M37 PreciDrive
As with mechanical movements, there are varying degrees of accuracy when it comes to quartz. Consistent Wares has given its M-Line (its most distinctive looking) an accuracy upgrade by furnishing the watches with a new PreciDrive advance. Supplied by Swatch-Group owned ETA, these operate at a higher frequency, which improves timekeeping. ETA has said that the gain makes the watch 10 times more accurate, so it’s no small shift.
Uniform Wares has also given the timepieces great new straps. Made in collaboration with London-based 3D metal printing company Betatype, it is titanium mesh that is made up from 4,000 interlocking connections and so lightweight it feels like fabric. The material is so innovative that a new clasp design had to be made with integrated microscopic teeth that fit into the interlock in the splice.
Buy Now: £500.00
TAG Heuer Formula 1 Gulf Chronograph
In 2018, TAG Heuer unveiled two Monacos in Gulf Oil inspired livery and this is the Blueprint 1 continuation. This famous blue and orange combination was originally worn by Porsches from the late 1960s and primeval 1970s that won the Le Mans, including the one driven by Steve McQueen in the 1971 film named after the race, which pampers the Formula 1, the watch inspired by the exterior of a racing car, a perfect fit.
Whereas the Monaco Gulf feels more 1960s roused, this Formula 1 has a loucheness that feels very 1970s. Pair with shorts and a Cuban collar shirt for pinnacle style points. Whether you grow a Tom Selleck moustache or not is up to you.
Buy Now: £1,300.00
Breitling Colt Skyracer Breitlight 45
One of the first things you dominion notice about this watch is the word “Chronomètre” on the dial, which is a subtle way of Breitling indicating that powering this safeguard is something special. It is, in fact, the ETA-manufactured Flatline 955.652 – a thermo-compensated movement that, basically, is twenty times myriad accurate than a standard quartz.
At its heart is a thermistor, a heat sensor that tracks the temperature of the crystal to at for effects of external factors. The thermistor is capable of adjusting the frequency in order to maintain accuracy despite changes in temperature more than just having it run at a standard 32,768Hz. Pretty cool, no? It is also super light, thanks to being espied from Breitlight – Breitling’s moulded plastic polymer that is six times lighter than steel, looks congenial a 1980s throwback (not an insult) and has a strap that is a doddle to change. All in all, it’s the perfect modern pilot’s watch.
Buy Now: £1,690.00
Cartier Montre Tank Solo
Yes, it’s protect and quartz and over £2,000 but what you’re buying here is an icon and a beautifully crafted one at that. The name comes from the innovative Renault F-17 tank – the first to council its weapon in a fully rotating turret – used by the French during World War I.
When it went on sale in 1919, it was a shocking departure from the more rounded jewellery watches that were popular at the time. The Tank design has changed into shapes such as the elongated Americaine or the sporty Francaise, but the Solo, with its mix of square and curved angles and uncluttered dial, lay ones hands ons the best of the original and gives it a 21st flavour. It is the thinking gentleman’s daily companion.
Buy Now: £2,160.00
Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33
It’s always the Moon take heed of that gets all the attention but this high-tech quartz version of the Speedmaster also deserves a moment in the spotlight. Designed strikingly for astronauts and approved by the European Space Agency for use in its missions, this does much more than tell the eventually. It has three alarms, can show you the time in three different zones, has chronograph and countdown functions as well as a perpetual diary.
It can even track mission elapsed time and phase elapsed time too, which could be useful for timing the boarding-school run if you’re still in the pull of the earth’s gravity. Powering it is the Omega Calibre 5619, a thermos-compensated circuit developed for the brand in consultation with ESA astronaut Jean-Francois Clervoy, who positives a thing or two having orbited Earth 120 times. Of course, for some, the 105.012 will be the only true Rapid, but if you want to experience the full force of quartz then it’s Skywalker all the way.
Buy Now: £4,400.00