w&w Round-Table #5: How Much Would You Pay for a Quartz?


This week’s Round-Table question comes from one of our regular readers, Teeritz (you might have seen his name in the comments from time-to-time). His questions is:  How much would you pay for a quartz wristwatch? What is your cut-off price?

Let us know your answer in the comments, and if you have an idea for a Round-Table question, please email it to us for consideration!

James Enloe

Since the early 2000’s my buying habits changed from quartz watches, which I had worn since I was a kid, to mechanical watches, thanks to the internet. Where I lived there were no sources for affordable mechanical watches; all the stores sold only quartz. Wearing a mechanical watch for the first time changed my buying habits a great deal. In the past 14 years I have bought no more than 10 quartz watches and have had over 150 mechanical go through my hands. Today I may be more inclined to buy a quartz watch, but it would have to be more than just a three hand time keeper. It would need a chronograph or GMT or some additional function, and even then I would have a hard time spending more than $125-$150. It would really have to leap out at me and grab my attention for me to pay even that much. I haven’t found that quartz watch yet, but I am sure one is out there.

Li Wang

This question is easy for me. The answer is $2,300, the list price for the Grand Seiko Quartz SBGX059/61/63/, which has a very special quartz movement, that is more powerful (to support longer hands), uses a tracking mechanism so the hands hit the markers exactly, and is specced to be within +/- 5 seconds per year. With a 37mm case and no lume, it is a proper dress watch that can be worn in more casual environments. But mostly, the watch finishing is superb and can only truly be appreciated holding the watch in person. The unconfirmed rumor is that this model has a 50-year service interval, so I might never need to have it serviced in my lifetime.


Christoph McNeill

This is an easy one: $0. I don’t care for quartz watches at all, and wouldn’t buy one for any price. I do have a few vintage Seiko quartz LCD watches from the mid to late 1970’s, but no quartz analog watches in my collection. I’m one of those kooky purists who believe quartz watches have no ‘soul’…they just leave me cold. I understand that many enjoy the ‘grab and go’ convenience and accuracy of them, but I just really don’t like them and have no interest in owning one.

Ed Estlow

This is a tough one for me because it depends on a couple of things. I’m a mechanical watch guy, so normally I wouldn’t spend even a little (like two digits) on a quartz watch. There are a couple of compelling exceptions however.

Something like the Breitling Emergency (well into five digits) – if my lifestyle required it – would be on my list. I think the Tissot T-Touch watches are pretty cool, so I could see myself shelling out the ~$1000 there. Several quartz ladies luxury watches in the upper four-digit range (Cartier, Parmigiani Fleurier) have caught my wife’s eye, and after her gifting me several watches over the years, I owe her.


Beyond those, and a few like them, I’m not really interested in quartz.

Brandon Cripps

It’s hard to say where my absolute cutoff price for a quartz is, so I’ll answer this one with a story about a watch I regretfully didn’t buy.

I’m always keeping an eye on online auctions for military watches (and, well, all watches), and about a year ago one came up that caught my eye. It was a 1984 Seiko RAF Gen 1 chronograph like the one we featured here. They come up for sale pretty regularly, and I already own one, so I wasn’t too excited about this one until I saw the issue number. It was low. Like, really low…0007. Of the 11,000+ Gen 1s issued by the MoD, this one was the seventh!


The seller had a buy-it-now price around $850, which was higher than the average price for Gen 1s at the time. So I thought about it, waffled and debated a bit, eventually deciding to pass on it. I slept on the decision and realized the next day that I would probably never see one with an issue number that low again. So I clicked over to buy it, and, of course, it had already sold.

$850 isn’t necessarily my limit for a quartz watch, but it’s probably not far off. If that watch or another Gen 1 with a crazy low issue number popped up today at that price, I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

Ilya Ryvin

Great question. I can’t say quartz watches are really on my radar these days (unless they’re the awesome Seiko 7a28 series of watches), but I guess it would ultimately depend on the movement. It’s important to understand that not all quartz watches are made the same, and the same holds true for the movements themselves. So while I probably wouldn’t pay too much for your run-of-the-mill Ronda-powered watch, I’d gladly pay a premium for a Sinn UX with a thermo-compensated chronometer-grade ETA 955.652. I’d also consider buying a pricier quartz watch like the Autodromo Prototipo, which features some of the nicest details and finishing I’ve ever seen in a watch under 1k. Plus, it uses the ultra cool Seiko VK64, a hybrid Meca-Quartz chronograph movement  (the chronograph motor operates at a higher frequency than the timekeeping motor, and the reset is instantaneous).


But, to answer the question at hand more directly, I guess my cap would be somewhere around $100 for a generic quartz watch (I paid $90 for a second-hand CWC quartz navigator), and the rest would have to be judged on a case-by-case basis.

Watch Curmudgeon

How much would I pay for a quartz watch? Nothing! Zilch! Zippo! Nada! If I’m going to spend anything on a watch, it’s going to be mechanical. Period.

Now, you probably think I absolutely despise quartzers. I don’t at all. In all practical purposes, they’re probably better than mechanicals. They’re more durable, require less servicing, and far far far more accurate. But, and this is a big BUT, they lack a soul.

Mechanicals are marvelous little pieces of machinery that have only slightly evolved since the golden days of A.L. Breguet. They’re true classics, and I’m devoutly classical. For me to truly love and respect a watch, it’s got to have a mainspring, a balance, an escapement, and all those incredible complimentary gears.


But, if someone put a gun to my head and said, “Choose a quartz watch or I’ll blow youse brains all over duh wall,” I’d opt for a Seiko Spring Drive. That would be a pretty decent compromise, a quasi quartz I could live with. How much would I fork over for one? Maybe $250., which means I ain’t got a chance.

Zach Weiss

hmmm… It’s hard to put a number on it, as I think I could be persuaded by anything in the right circumstance. I do like that quartz watches can bring complications down to more affordable prices. Something like the Citizen Grand Complications, which for around $1k give you a perpetual calendar, chronograph…and a friggin’ minute repeater. That’s a lot of fun things to play with…unfortunately, they aren’t particularly attractive, so I’ve yet to be confronted by my quartz limit.

In practice, the only quartz watches I really wear these days are ones with the Seiko Meca-Quartz movement inside, such as the Techné Sparrowhawk II and the Autodromo Prototipo, both of which are in my rotation.  The convenience of  not having to set them is nice, but I really love that they have the mechanical chronograph function, but are fairly inexpensive. Both watches also are built to the same standards one would make a mechanical watch, so they have great looks and a solid feel.


It’s not that I don’t like or enjoy quartz watches, it’s that missing sort-of-organic element that makes a mechanical so charming. In my collection, I’m more interested in unique qualities, the story of a watch, the artistry of it than accuracy, per say… Some of my watches are surprisingly off (old chronos that need some TLC) but it’s those idiosyncrasies that endear them to me. It’s part of the watch’s personality, in a weird way.

I guess I didn’t answer… For a watch with aesthetics that really worked for me, with a quartz movement that had something I couldn’t get from a mechanical, I’d probably top out at $1,000… I’m waiting for the day that temptation arises.

Mark McArthur-Christie

There are few things in Watchworld that divide opinion like watches with batteries rather than springs.

It’s odd, because when it comes to the ostensible function of a watch – telling the time accurately – there’s no contest.  Even the lamest oscillator will shame the most accurate wiggly-spring ticker.  A £7 Casio F-91W makes even a GMTII look pedestrian when it comes to timekeeping.


But that’s disingenuous.  If you’re here, reading this, your watches tell the time merely incidentally.  You’re interested in the technology, the tradition, the fascination of watches.  And, for most, this is where quartz falls down.  They believe quartz, simply because of its ubiquity on the wrists of the undiscerning, has all the intricacy and excitement of a domestic appliance.  But look past those cheap and nasty dullards in your local watch shop window…

I’ll declare an interest straight off.  Quartz watches fascinate me – because of their technology, their impact on the industry, their complexity and because they’re part of horological history.  The drive for ever more precision.

In my watchbox, an F91 sits alongside a Breitling Aerospace (that simply doesn’t gain or lose in between the two occasions a year I set it).  There’s a Grand Seiko SBGX083 Mastershop with a jewel of a 9F HEQ, hand-assembled thermo-compensated quartz movement with its ‘Tokyo stripes’. And there are two cal. 1620 Omegas, a Constellation and a Speedmaster from the 1970s (the same watch that went up on the Space Shuttle).  Then there are a couple of Seiko 7a28s – the first quartz analogue chronograph.


You ask what would I pay for a quartz?  What are you selling?  I’m Mark and I’m a quartzaholic.  Now, if I can find someone to buy a kidney, I’m off to look at an Oysterquartz.

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