August 12, 2019 - Authored By: Dale E. Malick
Are quartz watches worth buying? Personally, this is a question that I have struggled with over the past several years. Most watch enthusiasts and collectors believe that quartz watches are simply a circuit board with a battery and it is sacrilegious to even think about purchasing a quartz watch or even more so, a luxury quartz watch.
To better answer this dilemma, it only makes sense to list some of the pros and cons of purchasing a quartz watch and provide a brief insight with the evolution of the quartz watch.
In 1969, Seiko introduced its Astron wristwatch. It was the first of its kind to feature a battery-powered movement. Soon after, the quartz revolution took flight and during the 1970s and 1980s, the quartz crisis was at full throttle. This forced such renowned watchmakers, such as Rolex, Omega, Audemars Piguet, Longines, Hamilton and others to join the party.
So, what are the advantages of a quartz watch? First and probably the most obvious, is the convenience factor. There is no need to set the time once the power reserve depletes or once a manual wound movement elapses its wind. Consequently, some watch enthusiasts would argue that in fact, this is part of the charm of owning a wrist watch with an automatic or manual hand wound movement.
Second, is the cost of service. Depending on the watch brand, as well as the complication, the service and maintenance can cost up to several thousands of dollars. Obviously, if you can afford to purchase a $30,000 Audemars Piguet, you can certainly afford the hefty service cost.
Next is durability and reliability. Obviously, quartz watches have fewer moving parts and are not susceptible to shock. That being the case, quartz watches are far more accurate than their counterparts. Simply put, less is more.
Another advantage is the price. Since quartz watches do not feature the extensive parts and more importantly, the tedious watchmaking process, they can be mass-produced which ultimately lowers the cost of labor. From a business perspective, it allows a company to have higher margins and in return, add more profits to the bottom line. It is all about the Benjamins; isn't it?
Now that we have listed some advantages of quartz watch ownership, let's take a look at some disadvantages.
The most obvious is the lack of tradition for watchmaking and horology. Watchmaking for some watch enthusiasts, including myself, is an important part of owning a particular watch brand and complication. Celebrity watchmakers and watch industry pioneers, such as Gerard Genta and Jack Heuer not only will have an eternal and significant place in the history of horology, but were also extremely influential in both their design and marketing within the watch industry. As a motorsport enthusiast, Jack Heuer practically coined the chronograph watch with the introduction of the Heuer Carrera.
By the same token, Gerard Genta, as a world renowned designer, single-handedly institutionalized the stainless steel sport luxury watch. In a nutshell, tradition matters.
Next is the art of watchmaking. In today's day and age, it is hard-pressed to find a competent and quality watchmaker. The inner components and parts within a mechanical watch is as complex as a finely tuned exotic Italian or German sports car. From the hand regulated balance spring, to the highly-decorated Côtes de Genève on the watch’s movement, this craft undoubtedly makes watchmaking a true work-of-art and highly sophisticated.
However, to be completely fair, there are some quartz watches with the decorated Côtes de Genève, such as; the Tag Heuer Aquaracer and the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Cinq Aiguilles. Unfortunately, the fine craftsmanship of watchmaking is truly becoming an unforgotten profession; especially with the rise of the Smart Watch.
In the past, one of the issues with a quartz movement was the temperature. This would affect the watch's accuracy. However, because of modern innovation, brands such as Omega, Breitling, Grand Seiko and others use a thermocompensated quartz movement to mitigate this issue. The piezoelectric power of a quartz watch is what keeps the watch running. The normal vibrations of the quartz crystals in battery watches provide a higher level of accuracy compared to mechanical watches. Compared to the escape lever within a mechanical watch, the electronics of a quartz movement unleash the power generated by the quartz crystal, producing regular ticks. Unfortunately, the relationship of all these parts can be affected by the fluctuation in the surrounding temperature. Thermocompensating reduces the temperature variation in the watch by cutting the quartz crystals.
So, where do I stand with quartz watches? In my humble opinion, I actually like quartz watches. However, depending on a few caveats.
First, as an everyday day, so called “beater watch”, they are more durable; especially during rigorous activities. I wear my Omega Seamaster Midsize 36mm when working out at the gym and doing yard work. Next, since I have a small wrist, I find that most high-end luxury watches (and more so sport watches) are just too big for my skinny 6.75 inch wrist.
Having said that, I purchased an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 56175ST 33mm. Truthfully, this was an extremely difficult decision. After justifying the cost of the watch and believe me it was a long painful process. Why would I pay north of $8,000 for a quartz watch?
It's just a circuit board with a battery. Am I crazy? In the end, I finally decided that the craftsmanship was truly second to none and that there is more to a watch than just its movement. Frankly, (and the biggest factor is) I do not even look at the movement. My attention is completely focused on the stunning grey tapestry dial. It changes colors like a chameleon.
The colors range from a light bluish grey to a dark grey and I am mesmerized how it reflects in the different light settings. It is absolutely stunning.
Lastly, I absolutely love the watch's design, fit and finish and the integrated silky-smooth bracelet is like a second skin. It is truly a work-of-art and not to mention, I am a huge fan of Gerard Genta.
Article Written By: Dale E. Malick Founder & CEO of Watch2Wear
Watch2Wear is an online watch (and timepiece) buy now and secondary auction marketplace. Watch dealers, watch collectors and private individuals can list, sell and purchase watches and luxury timepieces. Private sellers can sell their watches for FREE without any listing and selling fees. Just like a watch forum, but better!
Unlike the other watch marketplaces, (watch forums, live/secondary auctions, consignment websites), Watch2Wear offers an exclusive verification service to ensure the watch’s authenticity and overall condition. Our watchmakers will thoroughly inspect and verify the watch's components, mechanical and physical condition.
As a buyer, you have the option to purchase your fine timepiece or luxury watch with verification. Or, as a seller, you can now sell your watch with verification. An industry first! A game changer! With either option, our team of watchmakers, with over 50 years of experience servicing luxury watches and fine timepieces, will ensure a risk-free purchase and a hassle free sale.