Watchmaking has been around for hundreds of years and has seen many leaps in innovation, but no advancement was more disruptive than the invention of the quartz movement. So game-changing was this technology that it almost destroyed the Swiss watch industry altogether. This so-called “quartz crisis” of the 1970s was a defining moment for watches, and forced the old-school Swiss brands to innovate, while making inexpensive battery-powered quartz watches available to pretty much anyone. Watches of all kinds have come a long way since then, but the accuracy, durability and value that made quartz so popular in the 1970s and 1980s remains unchanged. These eight picks span many styles and price points, but all have one thing in common: they will serve you well for many years to come.
Grand Seiko SBGP007
Seiko was the first brand bring a quartz movement to market back in 1969 and today both Seiko and its luxury division Grand Seiko still make some of the best quartz-powered watches around. The new limited edition Grand Seiko Heritage Collection SBGP007 features the new Cal. 9F82, an advanced quartz movement designed for ultimate precision. Accurate to an astonishing +/- 5 seconds per year, and finished with exceptional attention to detail, this is a timepiece for true watch connoisseurs.
Many of the world’s top luxury watchmakers began offering quartz movements in the 1970s and 1980s and a handful of them still do. This version of Cartier’s iconic Santos-Dumont is just such a piece, combining century-old design with modern technology.
Hamilton pioneered electric watches (the forerunner to quartz) in the 1950s, including early versions of the Ventura. A battery-powered movement was a perfect complement to the watch’s bold, futuristic design, which remains totally unique more than 60 years later. This one comes with all of the charm of the early space age, plus a modern quartz movement.
Rado True Thinline Leaf
Anyone looking for maximum lightness and thinness in an everyday watch will find a lot of good options with quartz movements, which are by definition thinner and lighter than their mechanical counterparts. Rado’s True Thinline Leaf, with a case made out of high-tech ceramic (which is light, scratch-resistant and hypo-allergenic) adds a splash of verdant green to the mix thanks to a textured dial inspired by nature.
While this brand is also a great source for mechanical movement watches, their quartz offerings like the modern, minimalist Everytime are as reliable as they are stylish.
TAG Heuer Aquaracer
With its tough stainless steel case, handsome blue dial and impressive 300m water resistance, it’s hard to imagine a more reliable daily wearer than this Aquaracer, whose Swiss quartz movement promises many years of worry-free timekeeping.
Swatch Big Bold Jellyfish
Perhaps no watch brand is more closely associated with quartz than Swatch. The brand launched in the early 1980s as a direct response to the quartz crisis, and their inexpensive, fashionable watches proved that the Swiss could do quartz as well as anyone. This new model, a modern adaptation of a classic ‘80s design, proves this is still true.
Momentum Flatline Micro
This Vancouver, BC-based watchmaker has been quietly producing affordable, reliable watches since 1980, and backing them with a commitment to service mostly unknown in this price category. With a 36mm case, winding crown at four o’clock and unique design details like the three-day date window, this is a stellar piece of wristwear for the money.