Quartz movements are often regarded as the cheapest option among the three main movement types (automatic, mechanical, and quartz) because they can easily be mass-produced and run on batteries. Even in this category there are some rather expensive pieces. Are high end quartz watches really worth buying though?
There are some well crafted quartz watches and there are definitely reasons why someone might consider a high end quartz watch over an automatic or mechanical one. Let’s see what are some reasons why somewhat might want to purchase a high end quartz watch.
The Movement That Changed The Game
Before 1969 the Swiss were a monopoly when it came to manufacturing watches. Little did they know that there whole world was about to fall apart because of a Japanese watch manufacturer known as Seiko was about to unveil new technology that would change the watch game forever.
In 1969 Seiko unveiled the Astron watch featuring the first ever quartz movement called the Cal. 35a. This movement was powered by a battery and relied on a quartz crystal that vibrates at 32,768 times per second creating a very precise frequency signal that is measured by a circuit and converted into a pulse every second.
Truth is, Quartz watches are by far way more accurate than automatic watches.
The most highest quality quartz movement will always out perform even the highest quality mechanical or automatic movements. This new technology threw the Swiss into a loop and during the 1970s Seiko would remain the top dog in the watch industry with its many quartz watch offerings.
Eventually in 1983, Swiss watch company Swatch would develop a response to the “Quartz Crisis” with its quartz watches which you can say saved the Swiss and brought them back into the limelight.
Another interesting fact about quartz watches is that you can create a much slimmer and smaller watch with a quartz movement because they require a lot less parts. For those looking for a smaller watch, quartz watches are the way to go. There are slim automatic watches, however they are usually priced quite high because they are very difficult to manufacturer.
Japanese Quartz vs Swiss Quartz
I happen to own 2 quartz watches myself. Both of very good quality and not cheap in price. One of Japanese origin, the other is Swiss made. So how do these two quartz watches compare with one another. Well for starters they are both very accurate watches. Both offer a chronograph function and date indicator. There are some differences between the two movements.
The first watch I got, that really got me interested in watches was my Seiko Coutura SSG010. This of course was a quartz movement watch and not a cheap one at that. It retails on Seiko’s website for $650 dollars. This watch is not your average quartz watch as it features radio-sync and is powered by solar energy.
For its movement it utilizes a Seiko Caliber 8B92 which is a solar powered chronograph quartz movement that also features radio sync and a world clock, made in house by Seiko.
My other watch is a Nicolet 1886 Triumph. This watch is Swiss made and utilizes one of the most reliable and well-known Swiss quartz movements. The movement it uses is called the Ronda Startech 3540D. It is also a chronograph movement measuring up to 10 hours, and 60 minutes on two separate dials. The Ronda movement also features 5 jewel bearings and the Swiss made version is gold-plated. This watch retails on Nicolet 1886’s website for $999.00.
So which movement is more superior. It depends on what you are looking for. If you want strictly a chronograph watch than the Ronda movement is the winner here. If you want a watch with multiple functions and some of the most accurate time-keeping in the world thanks to the Radio Sync feature, than the in-house Seiko Caliber 8B92 takes the crown.
Why The Steep Prices?
So as you can see above, both of the quartz watches I own are priced quite high. In general quartz movements are not expensive to manufacturer and even the most expensive Swiss quartz movement will run around $35.00. I am not sure what the prices of these specific movement are but regardless, these watches are priced high for other reasons.
Both watches are crafted exceptionally well, using high quality materials. The polished steel on my Seiko watch is impeccable. Both watches offer a sapphire crystal which is the leading industry standard. The Nicolet has a unique design in stacking multiple materials for its dial. Utilizing carbon fiber and mother-of-pearl within its dials. Its bezel is made out of Titanium. The polished solid steel strap on my Seiko is exceptional, while my Nicolet offers a genuine Italian leather strap of very fine quality.
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into a watch. An automatic watch crafted out of the same materials and offering the same functions would cost in the thousands. Which is why you might want to consider purchasing a quartz watch in its place. For a few hundred dollars you can get functionality, design, high quality materials, and much more accurate time keeping.
That being said, cheap quartz watches in my opinion are not worth buying. At the same time, cheap automatic watches are also not worth buying. There are exceptions to this rule of course and under $100.00 you can still find some exceptional quartz and automatic watches that provide a lot of value for the cost.
What About Really High End Quartz Watches?
Aside from the two watches I mentioned above, there are plenty of high end quartz watches that are worth buying. There are also, super high end quartz watches in the thousands that I believe are NOT worth buying.
What I am speaking about are high end luxury brand quartz watches by watch makers like Rolex, TAG Heuer, Breitling, Tissot, Omega, and even Grand Seiko. These watches can be priced in the thousands and in my honest opinion if you are going to be spending that kind of money you might as well purchase an automatic.
This of course is strictly opinion, and yes, some of these high end luxury watches offer a range of functions like alarm clocks, world calendars, perpetual calendars, stop watches, and many more etc. That you just can’t have in there automatic counterparts. However, you can find watches that cost a few hundred dollars like a G-Shock, Citizen, or even my Seiko Coutura that also offer a multitude of functions, great design and for a fraction of the cost.
So Whats My Final Take?
Well, it all comes down to a few things. Do you want a highly accurate time piece, that is more cost friendly, comes in slimmer/smaller sizes, offers a multitude of functions, and can still look really good? Well than maybe a quartz watch is what you need.
If you want a watch that can last you a lifetime if maintained properly, that doesn’t rely on a battery, that is a work of art as much as it is a time keeper, and you have a few extra bucks to spare? Well than maybe an automatic would be a better fit.
Regardless on what you decide, the one thing that really matters, is that whatever watch you decide to purchase, make sure it is a watch to remember…
***Let me and the community know what quartz watches you have in your collection in the comments below***