If you’ve been sifting through a watch brand’s catalogue, you might have noticed that these watches are commonly divided into two camps — mechanical and quartz watches. Watch snobs will usually go for mechanical ones from big brands like Omega or Patek Philippe. However, quartz watches have their own charm. Apart from being cheaper, they are generally more accurate than their mechanical counterparts.
In layman’s term, a quartz watch is battery-operated, whereas a mechanical calibre uses a mainspring that is wound up in two ways — from hand-winding or kinetic energy. One foolproof way to check if a watch is quartz is by looking at the seconds-hand. A quartz movement’s hand will tick once per second. On the other hand, a mechanical watch’s hand will sweep smoothly and not jump unlike a quartz’s.
Why choose quartz watches over mechanical?
Mechanical watches are more popular with hardcore enthusiasts. This is due to the fact that they value the craftsmanship that’s put into the watch’s gear. In short, luxury and hobby are major factors in choosing a mechanical watch over a quartz watch. On the other hand, here are a few reasons why you should not ignore quartz watches.
1. Quartz watches are more affordable.
Quartz watches are generally cheaper than mechanical watches. In fact, a lot of big brands create iconic mechanical watches in quartz versions so more fans can experience it. If you’re on a tight budget and are not too big on the watch’s gears, then a quartz watch would be better suited for your needs.
2. They require less maintenance.
Like cars and other expensive hobbies, watches require maintenance every now and then. These sessions can sometimes cost you up to $500. With quartz watches, you are not required to do this. In fact, the only thing you need to do is to change these watches’ batteries every now and then.
3. Quartz watches are more accurate.
Quartz watches are far more accurate than mechanical watches. This is because they have less moving parts, thus they are more rugged. Apart from that, the quartz crystal provides a high Q factor and a low-temperature coefficient which improves its accuracy.
How does a quartz watch work?
As mentioned above, quartz watches are powered by a battery. But for a more detailed explanation, it has a low-frequency piece of quartz crystal that serves as an oscillator. The battery then sends electricity to the crystal via an electronic circuit. As an effect, the quartz oscillator vibrates with a precise frequency of 32,768 times/second. After that, the circuit counts the vibrations and generates the regular electric pulses which drive the motor that makes the watch’s hands tick.
Factors to Look for in Quartz Watches
While there is no such thing as a “best watch”, you can still find a watch that is a perfect match for you. Here are a few things that you should note when you’re looking for a new quartz watch.
Watches in general have a long history, which means that a lot of brands have a rich watchmaking pedigree. If you want guaranteed quality, you should check out which brands that have a lot of milestones when it comes to creating quartz watches. A few to mention are Seiko, Longines, and Hamilton.
However, that’s not to say that you should ignore the emerging microbrands. In fact, there are a lot of small, unheard-of watchmakers that are showing a lot of promise. You just have to do the right research and read insightful reviews about them before buying.
When it comes to quartz watches, you have a lot of choices in design. One obvious rule is to choose the one that attracts you the most. However, what you want is not necessarily what you need. This is why it is important to know your lifestyle and where you will mostly use your watch.
As a rule of thumb, choose the design that will blend in well with your current lifestyle. For instance, if you always find yourself in business meetings, an elegant dress watch such as the Baume et Mercier Classima or Cartier Tank will be your best bet. And if you are the adventurous type, a diver or a sports watch, like the Citizen Promaster, is a good match.
Watches are made with different materials. Some are more attractive than others while some are more durable. If you are the outdoorsy type, then find a watch that has a scratch-resistant case and crystal. A stainless steel case, for instance, can handle a lot of bumps.
However, if you’re mostly indoors and you want something fancier, a watch made in 18K gold like a Rolex Oysterquartz might be a better choice for you. Yes, Rolex used to make quartz watches, too! So to conclude, each material has its own strengths and weaknesses and finding the perfect match for you will depend on your needs and lifestyle.
A quartz watch’s functions can range from time-only to a world timer. This is why you have to prioritise getting a watch that can do whatever you need. If you only need a watch just to tell the time and to complete your outfit, a simple dress watch or Bauhaus-style watch will suffice.
However, if timekeeping is crucial for your career like a racecar driver or an astronaut, you will need something that is more durable and functional. Now that technology is more advanced, a lot of watches, such as the Seiko Astron, can do complicated things like tell time from different time zones or do math.
Recommended Quartz Watches from Iconic Brands
Depending on your needs, below are some of the best quartz watches that you can find.
Baume et Mercier Classima
Baume et Mercier has always been one of the best Swiss watch brands. However, there is no denying that high quality comes with a high price tag. To reach more fans, the brand decided to launch a new line under the Baume et Mercier Classima collection. Enthusiasts can now enjoy a Baume et Mercier watch with a more affordable price but with a catch — these are quartz watches instead of the usual mechanical.
Design-wise, it retains the classical styling of Baume et Mercier. Case in point: the dial of the M0A10416 model featured above is clean with thin indexes and Roman numerals for hour markers. All of these come in a silver colour that contrasts well against the slate grey background. To boot, the small date window beside the 3 o’clock position is unobtrusive.
To complete the look, this Baume et Mercier Classima Quartz comes with a black leather strap. Its crocodile pattern adds a touch of elegance to make it one of the most attractive quartz watches in the market today.
The Bulgari Serpenti Tubogas Quartz watch takes a very unique approach when it comes to design. It has a snake motif that not only looks fashionable but also comfortable. That being said, it is a great addition to trendy women’s wardrobes.
Just like a snake’s head, the case comes in an oval shape that broadens at the base. Its dial comes in a white background with a sunray pattern. Meanwhile, the hour markers come in silver applied indexes and Roman numerals.
It must also be said that producing the watch’s bracelet is an elaborate process. To make the scales look realistic, the craftsmen at Bulgari had to enamel each of the scales separately by hand. These are then placed in intense heat before being assembled into bracelets. After that, they add the final touch by etching individual lines to completely mimic the scale of a snake.
Overall, the Bulgari Serpenti Tubogas Quartz featured above, is perfect for those who like setting the trend. So, if you’re looking for stylish quartz watches that look like no other, this model should not be overlooked.
One of the most iconic watches in history is a quartz watch — the Cartier Tank. This watch is a vintage military watch that Cartier fashioned after a Renault tank during World War I. Apart from that, its rectangular shape has become a signature style for the brand and has been one of the most copied designs.
Staying true to its vintage roots, the size of the Cartier Tank is smaller than average. Indeed, the large model comes in a 34.8mm size, which is still considered tiny by today’s standards. And as mentioned above, its iconic dial comes in an Art Deco style that makes it a perfect dress watch. Its matching metallic blue hands and cabochon crown prove that Cartier takes fashion seriously.
The Cartier Tank is one good reason why we shouldn’t dismiss quartz watches so easily. Despite lacking a mechanical movement, this model has climbed to the top of the list of most iconic watches.
Casio Pro Trek
The Casio Pro Trek is one of the more outdoorsy types of quartz watches. And as its name suggests, it features a lot of functions and durability that can handle a long trek in the wild. That being said, it shares a good blend of ruggedness, accuracy, and reliability.
One of the first things that you’ll notice is its size. Like any other tool watches, it comes in a bulky case. In particular, it packs 51.6mm of diameter. But that size doesn’t go to waste as it is shock-resistant and has a water resistance rating of 100m. Furthermore, it has four pushers on the side to easily tinker with its functions.
Speaking of functions, it offers a lot of goodies that you will need during an adventure. A few of those are the thermometer, a countdown timer, and a chronograph. In addition, the watch’s colour scheme is optimized for easy reading during the night.
To conclude, this robust watch from Casio is a nice watch to add to your rotation if you’re one of the adventurous bunch. Its durability and functions can surely keep up with your timing demands.
Chopard Happy Sport
The Chopard Happy Sport collection is targeted towards the sporty and at the same time, fashionable ladies. The models in this collection feature a combination of steel and diamonds, which is why all of the timepieces you’ll see here have diamonds placed on the dial.
Chopard has expertise in making fashionable dials, so let’s start with that. The Chopard Happy Sport 278509-3006 comes in a simple white and silver colour scheme that’s easy on the eyes. The background is made with a mother of pearl, while the hour markers come in silver. But wait until you see the main attraction — the dancing diamonds.
They weren’t joking when they said that these are “Dancing Diamonds”. Indeed, these little gems spin around the whole dial like ballerinas as its name suggests. And to be honest, it is a very amusing addition. We wouldn’t blame you if you end up looking at your watch more than usual!
All things considered, the Chopard Happy Sport Quartz watch is perfect for ladies who are looking for something unique in their watch.
In terms of features, the Citizen ProMaster watch boasts great value for your money. It is equipped with the Citizen Eco-Drive technology, meaning it is solar-powered quartz. Thus, you wouldn’t have to worry about changing its batteries, unlike typical quartz watches.
No doubt that its dial is cluttered due to its numerous features. A few of those functions are the compass, altimeter, calendar, and even a power reserve indicator. To add, it has a water resistance rating of 200m. With that, you don’t have to worry about submerging your watch for a quick swim in the lake.
All things considered, the Citizen ProMaster Land Altichron Eco-Drive is a perfect match for the adventure-seekers. Besides its robust construction, the watch has a lot of handy features that you may need during an expedition.
The Seiko Astron is where it all started. And if you know your history, this model was the world’s first-ever quartz watch. Apart from that title, the Seiko Astron is also one of the most accurate quartz watches around, thanks to its ability to receive GPS signals.
When it comes to features, the Seiko Astron 8X Dual-time GPS Solar watch featured above, has a lot to offer for the globetrotter. For one, it adjusts to your current timezone with just a push of a button. Apart from that, it has a dual-time calibre that allows you to read two timezones at once. And finally, it has an aeroplane mode which turns off its GPS function to avoid interference with other electronic devices in the aeroplane.
There is no doubt that this iconic watch from Seiko is one of the most technologically advanced quartz watches. It has accuracy and precision that are second to none. To add, the Seiko Astron has a lot of functions that you will not see in any other timepiece.
Frederique Constant Classics
Despite being relatively new to the industry, Frederique Constant has been showing promise. One collection that caught our attention is the Frederique Constant Classics. This lineup consists of quartz watches that have a classical and refined appearance like the mechanical models of the brand.
The Frederique Constant FC225ST5B5 features a case that’s made with yellow gold-plated 40mm polished steel. Meanwhile, its dial comes in white with a subtle diamond pattern. The brand calls this the “Clou de Paris” decoration. The indexes are all hand-applied and they match the colour of the case, along with the set of hands.
Under the convex scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, it uses the calibre FC-225. This quartz movement contains 1 jewel and has a battery life of 25 months. That means you only have to replace watch batteries once every year.
The Frederique Constant Classic Gents Quartz is a dressy watch for those who love classic styling. Its clean dial is attractive enough to be paired with a suit or a blazer.
Franck Muller Heart to Heart
Here’s another one for the ladies. The Franck Muller Heart to Heart collection sports a silhouette that is quirky and elegant at the same time – perfect for those who want a unique spin on their quartz watches.
Like other Franck Muller watches, this model comes with a curvy case. Its dial has a silver guilloche design with Arabic numeral hour markers. These hour markers come in a black serif font that gives off a funky feel to the watch.
You should know that the dial was manufactured entirely in-house. Each Franck Muller dial needs 20 layers of lacquer. This explains why it is such a pleasure to look at its dial. Furthermore, it is protected by a sapphire crystal to avoid scratches and cracks.
To conclude, the Franck Muller Heart to Heart timepiece is a testament to the brand’s dedication to Haute Horlogerie. Apart from the reliable quartz movement that it has, its design is definitely unique and something to write home about.
Grand Seiko 9F Quartz
If you love Seiko but are looking for an upgrade, check out their luxury brand – the Grand Seiko. To be more specific, the Grand Seiko 9F Quartz is a fine collection of quartz watches that should be on any watch lover’s radar.
While many quartz movements are produced by the automatic assembly, Grand Seiko’s 9F calibre is made entirely by hand. To expound, two craftsmen work on a calibre — one is assigned to assemble the date indicator and one is responsible for the movement. Even in quartz watches, Grand Seiko preserves its high-quality standard.
Furthermore, the 9F movement uses a regulation switch that controls precision. If a watch becomes too fast or too slow because of external factors, this switch fixes it to its normal state. So, you can expect your watch to display top-notch accuracy even after years of using it.
Last but most importantly, the Grand Seiko 9F watches use a protective shield construction. This shield prevents dust and other particles from entering the movement, thus minimising the risk of harm whenever you have to open the case to replace its battery. Kudos to Grand Seiko for assuring us that this watch is durable enough for our daily needs.
Surprise, surprise! Hamilton also offers quartz watches, and some of them come from the Hamilton Jazzmaster collection. Apart from their famous aviation-themed timepieces, they also have refined dress watches. One such example is the Hamilton Jazzmaster Gent Quartz.
This particular model takes a modern approach to your classic dress watch. Using Hamilton’s own words, it is “understated, yet bold”. True enough, its dial colour is brown which is neutral yet not as common as black or navy. Meanwhile, the calf leather strap comes in a greenish hue that matches the whole dial.
Moving on to the movement, it uses a quartz calibre called the F06.111. It is an ETA movement that is used in a lot of big brands like Certina, Tissot, and even TAG Heuer. Furthermore, it has 3 jewels and a battery life of up to 68 months. It is indeed a reliable workhorse that you can depend on for a long period of time.
Overall, the Hamilton Jazzmaster Gent Quartz is an affordable dress watch that feels and looks high quality. If you’re in the market for one but with a limited budget, this should be on your list. Its combination of reliability and good design is going to give you a lot of value for your money.
In addition to mechanical timepieces, Longines has a rich history when it comes to making quartz watches. From the Ultra-Quartz in the late ’60s, the brand has improved its quartz technology. Now, they use the VHP (which means Very High Precision) calibre, as seen in Longines Conquest watches, that is guaranteed to keep time precisely and accurately.
One specific model that caught our attention is the Longines Conquest VHP. This model is the perfect representation of the brand’s sporting elegance. Indeed, it is rugged enough to meet the demands of athletic users. And at the same time, it is guaranteed to make heads turn with its fashionable colourway and silhouette.
Another thing to note about its movement is that it has an accuracy rating of +/- 5 seconds per year. This passes the COSC requirement for quartz movements which is +/- 25.55 seconds per year. And if that doesn’t impress you, it also has a GPD (Gear Position Detect) system, which allows the hands to return to its original position in case it falls or goes through a shock. It just goes to show how much Longines values their watches’ accuracy and durability.
That being said, despite having a quartz movement, the Longines Conquest VHP is something that watch enthusiasts should admire.
Types of Quartz Watch Batteries
Lithium Quartz Watch Battery
Lithium watch batteries are very popular. This is due to their high voltage capability (usually 3V), low self-discharge rate, and long storage life. This is the reason why it is the most recommended type to use for a timepiece that is very power-consuming.
Silver Oxide Quartz Watch Battery
This type of watch battery typically has a voltage of 1.55V. It is also the most popular battery used for quartz watches. Among its characteristics are a high physical density and stability. Apart from those, people also prefer this battery as it does not create environmental pollution.
Silver Peroxide Quartz Watch Battery
The Silver Peroxide is also known as the divalent silver quartz watch battery and it has a voltage of 1.55V. This type of quartz watch battery has a high capacity. However, it has poor voltage stability which makes it less popular than Silver Oxide.
Solar Cell Quartz Watch Battery
Unlike the other quartz watch batteries, the Solar Cell gets its power from the sun. In other words, it converts light energy into electrical energy. This type of battery is what you will see in solar-powered watches, such as the Casio Edifice and Tissot T-Touch timepieces. With this type, you wouldn’t have to change batteries every few months or years as you only have to recharge it.
Mercury Oxide Quartz Watch Battery
The Mercury Oxide watch battery is one of the earliest watch batteries invented. It has a voltage of 1.35V. However, this is becoming far less common as it causes too much environmental pollution. Instead, people have been shifting to a more environment-friendly battery like the Silver Oxide.
How to Change the Watch Battery
For some reason, there are times when you can’t go to a watch repair shop when your watch’s battery has died. This is a good reason why you should know the basics of how to change a watch battery. Here are the steps to make your watch tick again.
Tools you need to change watch battery:
- A new battery
- Flat screwdriver
1. Remove the caseback.
Depending on your watch, you may or may not use a screwdriver to pry open its caseback. Other quartz watches like the Timex Q have a dedicated coin slot that lets you easily remove the case. However, if your watch doesn’t have that, simply use a flathead screwdriver or blade and press it down on the indentation. Then twist the cover until it becomes loose.
2. Remove the dead battery.
Now that you can see the inside of the watch, locate the battery. But before you remove it, observe which side of it is facing upward. Then, you can use tweezers to carefully remove the battery without touching the other parts of the watch.
3. Insert the new battery.
Using the tweezers again, insert the new battery in the same position as the old one. Gently press it down to make sure it is secure.
4. Check the watch if it’s working.
Before you replace the caseback, flip the watch over and check if the new battery is working. If it is still not working, double-check if you placed the battery properly. But if it’s still not working despite being inserted correctly, it’s either the battery or the watch might be damaged. With that, it is recommended that you bring it to a professional watch repair shop for examination.
5. Replace the caseback.
If the watch is now working, set the caseback in its original place. Congratulations, you have just replaced your watch’s battery!
Quartz watches have a lot of differences from mechanical watches. However, one is not necessarily better than the other. We may say that these two movements are targeted at different audiences. While mechanical is mostly for true-blue watch enthusiasts, quartz watches are for the more practical watch lovers.
Thanks to their cheaper price tag and reliability, quartz watches have provided a way for non-enthusiasts to enjoy high-quality watches on a budget.
Photo credit: Featured image courtesy of Seiko