The best quartz watches

The romance of mechanical engineering is unlikely to fade anytime soon but a battery buzz is growing...

The received wisdom has long been that if you want a “proper” timepiece, it has got to have a mainspring – anything other than mechanical was seen as soulless. So what to make of the resurgence of high-end quartz?

For some, it’s about design. The Cartier Santos-Dumont, for instance, is 7mm thick, thanks to its battery-powered movement – 20 per cent thinner than the standard Santos. The same goes for Hermès’ new Arceau 78, its name a reference to the launch year of Henri d’Origny’s original creation, which debuted as a quartz watch.

For others, it’s about doubling down on the inherent advantage of quartz, which is reliability. A new watch category dubbed “high-accuracy quartz” (HAQ) is gaining traction, particularly among the online watch community. The Grand Seiko 9F86 Quartz GMT is accurate to +5/-5 seconds per year, for instance, as is “The Citizen” Chronomaster AB9000-61 – astonishing feats both.

It’s not for everyone, obviously. The romance of mechanical engineering is unlikely to fade anytime soon. But, even for arch traditionalists, here’s a tip: seek out a vintage Rolex Oysterquartz and throw it in the back of the safe. You might just find it pays dividends.

Here, we round up the best quartz watches.


1. Cartier Santos-Dumont

If 2018's return of the Santos de Cartier - the world's first pilot's watch, in effect, as it was made for the Brazilian adventurer and early aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont - stole the horological show, 2019 belongs to its quartz-driven sibling, available in small and larger sizes in either steel, bimetal or pink gold. Available on leather strap only, it's the dress watch to beat. £3,350. At


2. Hermès Arceau 78

The big news at SIHH this year was the return of the upsized but now unlimited Carré H, we not so secretly admired the new ultra-slim Arceau 78, noting its just-so grained anthracite dial, 40mm polished stainless steel case and the house's emblematic Barenia calf leather strap. £2,650.


3. Clifton Club Quartz

Baume & Mercier's Clifton range of automatic models re-set the standard for affordable mechanical watchmaking a few years ago. Joining the sporty Club collection is a new offering featuring Swiss-made quartz movements set within the attractive stainless steel 42mm case– offering the same chic yet sporty aesthetic in an even more competitive package.£1,290.

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