Quartz Watches: Why You Should Still Consider Getting One
Quartz watches. These two words divide the watch community into two. On one camp, some people would burn all quartz watches if they could. While on the other end of the spectrum, some swear that they are efficient beasts.
Both of these types of people have their own valid points. But for now, let’s focus on the latter. Read on to find out why you should still consider getting a quartz watch.
What Are Quartz Watches?
But first, what makes a quartz watch tick? Quartz watches get their power via an electronic current running through a quartz crystal. This allows the crystal to vibrate at a perfectly constant frequency. In effect, these vibrations drive the motor, which in turn makes the hands move.
Long story short, quartz watches have an electronic movement and are mostly battery-powered.
The Rise of Quartz Watches
During the Christmas of 1969, Seiko brought a present to the world. They introduced the first-ever quartz watch called the Astron.
Along with the watch came their promise of it having 100 times the accuracy of a mechanical timepiece. But more than that, it was the model that triggered the start of the Quartz Revolution and the Quartz Crisis.
The Quartz Crisis
If you read through many of today’s successful brands’ histories, you might come across the Quartz Crisis. For the unaware, this is considered a dark period in horological history. Really, watch geeks talk about it like it’s the black plague. And like the disease, it almost wiped mechanical watches out of existence.
Shortly after the release of the Astron, demand for quartz watches skyrocketed. Conversely, sales for mechanical counterparts plummeted. Aside from being accurate, quartz watches are generally cheaper. So, from a consumer’s point of view, it’s easy to see why people’s preferences suddenly shifted.
This caused Switzerland, a country that dominated the watch industry, to experience an economic crisis. The financial calamity was so bad that thousands of Swiss lost their jobs and several watch companies filed for bankruptcy. Yes, even your beloved Audemars Piguet almost fell victim.
How Did the Swiss Get Over the Slump?
Can’t imagine life without admiring a watch’s gear from a clear caseback, can you? Fortunately, the Swiss did what they could to save the art of traditional watchmaking.
Dedicated to bounce back, the Swiss reexamined a new marketing strategy. Instead of feeding the consumers with complicated watchmaking artistry, they tried a completely different route. They thought, “what if we saw watches as cheap and disposable fashion accessories?”.
That idea gave birth to the now-famous Swiss brand called Swatch. Thankfully, the new brand was a hit. And with the profit, the Swiss were able to reopen factories and give traditional watchmaking a second chance.
Why You Should Still Consider Getting Quartz Watches?
1. They tell time more accurately.
Even the most die-hard watch fan won’t deny that mechanical watches are less accurate than quartz. In fact, one of the main selling points of the Seiko Astron was its accuracy.
Scientifically speaking, the oscillator of a quartz watch is steadier than the balance wheel of a mechanical one. No matter what happens, a quartz crystal will always oscillate at the same frequency.
2. Quartz watches are cheaper.
Although there are some expensive quartz watches (e.g. Cartier Tank Solo), they are generally cheaper. Your choice of mechanical watches would be very limited at $100. But take the same budget for a quartz watch and you’d be surprised by the number of options.
Why is this so? Quartz watches are easier to assemble and can be mass manufactured. On the other hand, mechanical watches contain more parts. Thus, they require more effort to make.
Some people are not really big on the watch craftsmanship and just want an appealing watch that can tell time. If you fall into this category, then quartz watches are a great way to start your watch collection.
3. You wouldn’t have to wind them every now and then.
There are two types of mechanical watches: hand-wound and automatic. But both of these types have one thing in common — they stop working when not in use.
This is where their quartz counterpart shines. Because a quartz watch is battery-operated, it would still run even when you’re not wearing it. This makes it very convenient if you’re not planning on wearing the watch every single day.
4. Quartz watches are low-maintenance.
They say that owning a mechanical watch is a lot like owning a car. You admire the machines and gears inside. You may or may not have a designated ‘daily driver’ and a ‘weekender’. But most of all, you have to clean and oil them every few months or years.
Speaking of service centres, mechanical watches lose their accuracy after some time. When this happens, it’s time to have it recalibrated by a trusted watchmaker.
Quartz watches, however, do not require a periodic checkup. Apart from the occasional battery change (which you can do in less than five minutes), they do not require any other special attention.
Why Do Quartz Watches Get a Lot of Hate?
Based on the points we’ve made above, quartz watches do not sound so bad. In fact, it might sound like all the things you could ask for from a watch. So, what’s with all the hate?
They may have different reasons for it, but the common denominator is the lack of craftsmanship in quartz watches. Typically, a mechanical watch contains more parts and thus requires more time to assemble. That is why some consider them as engineering masterpieces that you can wear.
Some people just love the feeling of having a very tiny and complicated machine on their wrists. They value the skill and artistry required in a mechanical watch that cannot be seen in a quartz watch.
NOTABLE QUARTZ WATCHES
Now that we’ve settled the lowdown on quartz movement, here are a few recommended quartz watches. You wouldn’t regret adding any of these to your watch collection.
1. Seiko Astron
The Seiko Astron is a staple on this list simply because this is what started the Quartz Revolution. It is now even registered as a key advance in electrical engineering. Go check it out at the List of IEEE Milestones.
Years after the revolution, the Astron continues to innovate. In modern times, the Astron comes in different series and is marketed by Seiko as “the most advanced ever”. The Seiko Astron 5X, for example, is the world’s first solar GPS watch.
2. Cartier Tank Solo
Perhaps one of the dressiest watches you’ll ever lay eyes on is the Cartier Tank Solo. Hardcore watch geeks might be wary about it due to its quartz movement. However, it is undeniable that the Tank has carved itself a permanent place in the history books of horology.
Ironically, its elegant surface was inspired by ferocious Renault FT-17 war tanks. It was even gifted to World War I soldiers like U.S. General John Pershing. Who would have thought that a refined timepiece would blend in well on a battlefield?
The Tank has a long history behind it. And no matter what your stand on quartz watches is, one thing is for certain — the Cartier Tank Solo remains to be a conversation piece.
3. Rolex Oysterquartz Datejust
Surprise surprise! You might be stunned to find the Rolex Oysterquartz Datejust on the list. But to answer your question, yes, Rolex also produced quartz watches for a brief period. The brand suffered from the Quartz Crisis and had no choice but to produce quartz.
Knowing Rolex, they wanted to stand out and refused to use the same movement that dozens of companies had. That’s why they developed their own quartz movement. After five years, they introduced the Rolex Oysterquartz movements. It included 11 jewels and a 32khz oscillator.
Don’t feel bad if you never knew that Rolex had a few quartz watches. Truth be told, even some watch connoisseurs do not know about this model. We can’t really blame them as it was easily lost in Rolex’s history since they produced less than 25,000 units of it.
4. Timex Weekender
If sneakerheads have the Stan Smiths, the watch community takes pride in the Timex Weekender. Everybody knows at least one person who has this in their wardrobe. And there’s a very good reason for that.
First of all, the Weekender is one of the cheapest watches you’ll find. Secondly, it is so easy to incorporate into your wardrobe with its dozens of aftermarket strap options. Want a rainbow NATO strap today and a simple black leather tomorrow? No problem.
It doesn’t matter how many expensive watches sit on your watch box. Without a doubt, you can never go wrong with adding a Timex Weekender to your collection.
5. Breitling Colt Quartz
Fancy the Omega Skywalker X-33 but hate the digital format? The Breitling Colt Quartz is a great analogue alternative. This fine piece is indeed a must-see if you’re into high-end quartz watches.
Inside, it features the high-tech Breitling SuperQuartz movement. The brand even claims that it is 10 times more accurate than standard quartz. It even has a COSC Chronometer certification to prove it.
Apart from that, it boasts a lithium battery that can live up to eight years. That’s almost a decade without changing batteries!
This Breitling Colt piece is perfect for you if you want an ultra-reliable watch that looks handsome at the same time.
6. Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33
It shares its name with a lightsabre-wielding Jedi, and the X-33 sounds like a vehicle in the movie. However, the Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 is none of those things. But don’t worry because it’s still as powerful.
Omega designed this beautiful piece with astronauts in mind. With that said, it is equipped with an advanced quartz movement that has the European Space Agency’s seal of approval.
Apart from its impressive calibre, the Skywalker X-33 has stellar features. It can read time from not just two, but three different time zones! It also has three alarms, a chronograph, and a perpetual calendar among others.
7. Citizen Eco-Drive One
Looking at the dial, the Citizen Eco-Drive One looks more like a normal dress watch. But once you look at it from the side, you’ll be surprised at how thin it is!
With a case of only 2.98mm, it is considered one of the thinnest dress watches in the world. Some people would even swear that it feels like a feather and you’d hardly notice that it’s on your wrist.
But that’s not all. While it is a quartz watch, you wouldn’t have to worry about changing its battery. This watch is equipped with the Citizen Eco-Drive, allowing it to be powered by any kind of light. Yes, it would still charge even in dim light. Once fully charged, it can run for six months. Now, that’s efficient!
8. Swatch Fun Watches
Remember those colourful watches you wore back in high school? They’re special for a reason. Going back a few decades, this brand was the Swiss’ weapon against the Quartz Crisis. It’s actually the reason why the Swiss watch industry recovered.
Swatch Fun Watches have bright and unique designs. Paired with a small price, it’s no wonder how these watches captivated the market. So, when you’re feeling like a kid again, don’t forget to check out the different designs of this watch. It wouldn’t hurt to add something fun to your growing watch collection.
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