All That Glitters can be Quartz.
Some say that only mechanical watches have a ‘soul’ and quartz watches represent all that is evil. Of course, we at MotoringExposure do not agree with such bold watchgeek statements. Watch aficionados however are still a bit cautious of the quartz driven movement, as it made a lot of brands go bankrupt in the 1970s and 1980s. Invented in 1967 by the Centre Electronique Horloger (CEH) in Neuchâtel, the quartz movement conquered the world of wristwatches and won.
Luckily, ever since Mr. Swatch (Hayek) declared his true love for mechanical watch manufacturers, by investing his Swatch quartz profits in revamping old brands like Omega, Breguet, Blancpain etc, it’s taught watch lovers worldwide a major lesson – we don’t have to be scared anymore. Hayek turned something negative into something positive, at least for collectors of fine timepieces. We can confidently say the current Swiss watchmaking industry is still alive because of these cheap quartz watches.
However, besides Swatch’s cheap quartz watches, there are a few quartz pieces that wouldn’t make you look bad at all amongst collectors of fine timepieces. As a matter of fact, we think – if you are a serious collector – you definitely should have a quartz watch in your collection, to synchronize all your mechanical timepieces with.
Below we discuss three quartz driven timepieces from established Swiss brands that are either still in production or are discontinued, but can be found without too much effort.
The Breitling Aerospace is a quartz watch with digital display, which can be bought in the pre-owned market for a very decent price. Introduced during the mid-1980s as part of the Navitimer collection, the Aerospace became a model of its own (as part of the ‘Professional’ series) in 1992. The most interesting models are those from 1996 and later, as they feature a digital minute repeater movement.
This digital sports watch looks incredibly cool on a brown alligator strap. With a 2nd time zone, chronograph, count down timer, alarm and minute repeater, it is definitely a watch you can show off to your mechanical-lovin’ watch friends. The Aerospace is still in production and available in steel, titanium and gold.
Omega Speedmaster X-33
This was meant to be Omega’s Mars Watch, however, it was released before we could make the trip! Omega introduced the Speedmaster X-33 in 1998, but withdrew it in 2006. This has to be one of the shortest Omega models in production and is probably more limited than their regular Speedmaster limited edition models.
The X-33 was initially a project code for this watch, but Omega retained it as their product name when they introduced it to the public. This titanium watch came with either a titanium bracelet or a Kevlar strap. With a production number this low, prices today are increasing rapidly, so be prepared to pay at least 2000 Euro (+/-2,700 USD) for a mint condition X-33.
Rolex OysterQuartz Datejust
Although Rolex is famous for its mechanical chronometer (COSC) movements, the battery operated OysterQuartz was part of their collection for quite some time. First introduced in 1977, the OysterQuartz Datejust provided an alternative for customers who did not want to be bothered with the inconveniences of a mechanical Datejust. Rolex also introduced the OysterQuartz Day-Date, but besides a day complication and the fact these are only available in either 18ct yellow gold or white gold, they do not differ much in terms of design and quality.
The quartz movement inside isn’t the ordinary movement you would expect from a battery-operated watch. It is almost true haute horlogerie and looks more beautiful than some of the standard mechanical ebauches from other brands. The watch even ticks in a mechanical kind of way, one tick per second of course, but with elegance. The design of this quartz movement by Rolex has a few mechanical parts inside, such as the pallet fork similar to the design of a traditional mechanical escapement construction. This results in a very loud “tick”.
Rolex discontinued their OysterQuartz models in 2002 and there is still no gold rush for these models; a familiar story they share with other unpopular models from a certain era (Daytona, Explorer II, Milgauss). A Rolex OysterQuartz Datejust can be found for approximately 1750 Euro (+/- 2,300 USD) for a piece in good condition.
High-End Quartz Watches Pictures
Rolex OysterQuartz photos by SubGMT.com, Breitling Aerospace by Breitling and ClockWise.nl and Omega Speedmaster X-33 by Omega.