It’s easy to look down on quartz watches, the battery-powered pauper to haute horology’s prince. Yet whereas most of them you come across aren’t really worth mentioning in the same breath as mechanical timepieces, there are a rarefied few that won’t taint your wrist for ever more. Here are a handful of our favourites.
Grand Seiko 9F
You can’t talk about great quartz without Seiko. They were the pioneers, the vanguard of the industry-shattering timekeeping technique. It’s no surprise they have plenty of decent pieces on offer, but Grand Seiko… now that’s another story. The SBGV007 has all the trappings of GS – flawless finishing, timeless design – with a quartz movement accurate to +/- 10 seconds a year. It’s also by far the most pared-back thing you’ll see on this list.
Price: £2,750; www.grand-seiko.com
Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 Solar Impulse
Omega are more likely to go on about their proprietary Co-Axial calibres and silicon balance springs than humble quartz, yet the Skywalker (no relation to Luke) is just painfully cool, especially with the blue and lime green of the Solar Impulse limited edition. It has all the functions a professional astronaut could need, making it, at least functionally, a techy successor to the original Speedmaster.
Price: £3,920; www.omegawatches.com
Breitling Emergency II
When you’re stuck the wreck of a light aircraft slowly slipping into the ocean, you don’t want to have to wind your watch. It goes without saying then that Breitling’s Emergency, a watch built just for that occasion, is powered by a quartz movement. It also houses a transponder so that should the worst happen, emergency services know where to find you. Even without that, the 51mm watch is a beast.
Price: £12,430 – £15,700; www.breitling.com
Citizen Promaster Navihawk GPS
Citizen’s Eco-Drive is an odd duck of a quartz movement. It works the same but the power comes from a phenomenal solar cell. In short, it’s the quartz that never, ever dies. In this world-timer extraordinaire it’s been paired with a full GPS system for the ultimate globe-trotter’s timepiece. It’s busy to look at, but when there’s 40 time zones, a 1/20 second chronograph, a power reserve indicator, alarm and the usual three hands, that can be excused.
Price: €1,275; uk.citizenwatch.com
Bulova were with Seiko among the originators of electric watches with the Accutron – a seriously cool find if you can get your hands on one. The modern successor, the Precisionist, though, offers something that no other quartz watches can: a smooth seconds. It eliminates the telltale tick that gives quartz pieces away, and it’s insane 262kHz frequency makes it far, far more accurate than nearly all the riffraff out there.
Price: £229; intl.bulova.com