Nothing about the wristwatch industry makes sense. Not only should they have been relegated to buggy-whip territory when mobile phones became ubiquitous, the most prized, expensive, desirable wristwatches are actually the worst performing. Mechanical timepieces are not as accurate as quartz. Yet “everyone” wants a Rolex, and nobody wants a Timex. OR DO THEY. Here are ten quartz-powered watches that even some watch snobs would (reluctantly) tip their impeccably crafted bowlers at. M’lady.
The watch that took 2019 by storm. A faithful re-vamp of a style originally from when quartz was the new, hot technology. Off-white, almost sepia indices and hands. A case that mixes geometry with wearability, brushed edges and polished surfaces. Retro in all the right ways. 38mm case diameter. Full review here.
Tough as nails, loved by many, and rugged good looks that are unapologetic to all fancy-pants, monocle wearing, loupe carrying goofballs. These are the quartz watches that many mechanical/automatic watches are set by. Shown above is the blackout, 6900.
One of the best values in watches available. Classic pilot watch styling, a GMT hand (so you can tell the time across separate time zones), and an E6B circular slide rule. Yes, a slide rule. Movement is Citizen’s very popular, very accurate, solar powered quartz Eco-Drive movement. As it was clearly aimed at globe trotters, the watch has a jump-hour function, so that you can skip by hours to the next timezone without having to worry about messing up the minute hand or the date. The Nighthawk also features one of the best bracelets you can find on a watch (well!) under $500. It has solid end-links, and a very secure precision machined clasp with a diver’s safety on it.
Yes it’s not cheap for a quartz. Hardly. But man does it look good. Sorta kinda shades of the Tag Monaco. Movement is the unusual and well appreciated chronograph mecha-quartz. Which means you get the accuracy and ease of a quartz, with the snappy feel of a mechanical chronograph. And if you want a chronograph? Good luck doing that with an automatic/mechanical for around $500. It can happen, but it’s rare. Full review of the Zodiac Grandrally can be found here.
The “other” moon watch. Apollo 15’s mission commander, Colonel David Scott, wore his personal Bulova on the moon as backup to the NASA issued Omegas. This is the recreation for us normal civilians. Not small at 45mm, but doesn’t feel bulky to me either. Superluminous hands and markers. Ultra high-frequency quartz movement. Set comes with two straps, including a black-nylon akin to Colonel Scott’s original, as well as a strap changing tool. Does the Omega Speedy get more love from the watch wearing community? Of course. But the Bulova is no slouch. Currently $399 at Amazon, but often goes for $315 – $350 (just depends on how Amazon’s pricing robots are feeling that day/who is selling the thing). Want to save quite a bit of money? Jomashop has the date-free, no leather strap option for $289.
One of the watches that Timex made, signaling their return to the status of desirability. These things showed Timex wasn’t just gonna be relegated to Ironman workout use, and the odd slip-thru weekender wear. Bold dials. Domed crystals. And the best part is the thick leather straps, sourced from the Red Wing shoes tannery in Minnesota. These watches, weirdly, are getting increasingly difficult to find… especially on sale.
A splurge, but Marathon knows what they’re doing. Build to handle the toughest, most challenging environments. Marathon has been contracted by the US Marine Corps, Department of Homeland Security, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. So chances are one of their timepieces can handle your
desk duty backpacking trips. And they’re not afraid to listen to the customer base either. We’re in the era of “more classically sized” watches (ie: smaller.) And this 36mm fits that bill. Tritium dial markers, MIL-SPEC construction, high-viz white dial, and the kinda good looks that won’t go out of style any time soon. One of our contributors, Zach, likes Marathon. He’s a Marine. That’s a recommendation I’m highly likely to listen to.
Rolex looks on a top-ramen budget. For about $50 you get 200m of water resistance, a stainless steel case, and a rotating bezel which feels much more expensive than many other watches in the under $100 category. Even the stock rubber strap that it comes on is decent (soft-ish, not rigid plastic). Throw an aftermarket strap on it and you’ll get more style points
More proof that nothing about the wristwatch industry makes any sense. We the consumer these days are all about well-made this and sustainable that… yet when Timex goes and makes a watch sourcing every single bit and piece and component from within the U.S. (aside from the Swiss Quartz movement which keeps better time than your impeccably groomed co-worker’s Rolex), and then they actually assemble the things at their headquarters in Middlebury Connecticut… nobody buys the things. Counterpoint: It’s a Timex that costs half a grand. So yeah. Maybe wait for when they drop the prices on these to “okay, we get it, you guys won’t pay this for this” levels. Stinks though. I really wish these would have worked. They look beautiful. Four different color combos to pick from.
My goodness that’s a looker. Another chronograph, because again, mechanical chronos are pricey. But yeah, this thing is nails. Contrast sub dials. All sorts of retro inspired design elements. 42.5mm case diameter has some size since it’s an aviation style watch, but it’s still wearable by most. Full review here.
What’d we miss? Got a favorite quartz watch that should have made the list? Send those suggestions into firstname.lastname@example.org.