Quartz is something of a four-letter word in watch geekery, probably because it doesn’t have the illustrious “soul” and “craftsmanship” of a mechanical watch. But considering a good amount of watch brands use mass-produced movements from third-party suppliers, these are things we probably shouldn’t get too caught up in, at least when talking about watches on the lower end of the price spectrum. Because the thing is, quartz watches are fantastic. Aside from battery changes, they don’t require much servicing and they’ll be more accurate than even the most expensive mechanical watch. Further, aside from some particularly special high-end quartz watches, you can find some incredible timepieces under $1,000 — many of them far, far below that.
Timex Waterbury United
Timex makes some of the best quartz watches around the $100 mark, and that goes especially for the Archive Series, which draws on past designs to make great vintage-inspired watches. The Waterbury United is emblematic of that, featuring an off-white dial with 24-hour markers, red accents and a worn leather strap.
Along with its great aviation-inspired looks, the Nighthawk has the Citizen’s lauded Eco-Drive quartz movement, meaning you won’t have to worry about a battery change once every couple years. Further, the Nighthawk features a GMT function for keeping track of your home time zone while abroad, and a slide rule bezel in case you’re really against using the calculator on your iPhone.
Seiko Prospex SUN023P1 Kinetic GMT
Similarly, this Prospex watch from Seiko features a GMT hand and a mechanism to keep battery changes fewer and further in between. But rather than solar charging, the Seiko uses a system similar to the rotor in an automatic watch — when you wear the Seiko, it winds a rotor which generates energy that then juices the battery right back up.
Bulova Moon Watch
The Speedmaster wasn’t the only watch worn on the moon — during the Apollo 15 mission, Commander David Scott wore a custom-made Bulova chronograph on the surface of the moon in place of his NASA-issued Speedy. While that watch was mechanical, the homage here uses a chronograph version of Bulova’s Precisionist high-beat quartz movement, so rather than the seconds hand ticking once every second like a standard quartz watch, it smoothly sweeps across the watch’s dial.
Braun’s BN0211 has won both a Red Dot and an iF award, so if you’re really looking for something design-focused at a low price, this is your watch. It comes with a slim stainless steel case and, for Bauhaus fans, a dial reminiscent of early Braun watches and wall clocks designed by legends Dieter Rams and Dietrich Lubs.
Though the brand has rolled out mechanical watches recently, Farer got its start with good ol’ quartz watches like this Frobisher model. It takes on the look and feel of a classic explorer’s watch, but is made modern with a larger (but still modest) 39.5mm case size and a dose of color on the dial. As a bonus, the crown is a piece of bronze that will patina with age.
Marathon TSAR Quartz Medium
Built to U.S. Military standards, the Marathon TSAR is a tough watch in a small package. Coming in at only 36mm, it’s tiny, but it’s still a super tough and submersible to 300 meters. It also features tritium gas tubes for luminescence, which is a nice, bright and colorful touch.
Tissot PR100 COSC
In addition to mechanical watches, the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) certifies quartz watches, though very few watchmakers go through the certification process. Since this is an official chronometer, know that this Tissot is built to be accurate to within +/- 0.07 seconds per day, or about 25 seconds a year (most quartz watches are off by about 15 seconds a month).
Hamilton Ventura L
When it launched 60 years ago, the Ventura was known for 1) being Elvis Presley’s watch in Blue Hawaii and 2) using Hamilton’s innovative Model 500 electric movement. Though the 500 was ultimately too unreliable to surpass mechanical watches, it paved the way for modern quartz-regulated watches. Today, the Ventura is powered by a quartz movement, but keeps the original’s now-iconic asymmetrical case, penned by industrial designer Richard Arbib, who was known for his over-the-top Jet Age designs.
Longines Conquest VHP
Longines’ Conquest VHP (Very High Precision) is one of the most accurate analog watches in the world, being accurate to about five seconds per year. How does it do it? Longines added tons of interesting tech to the movement, like a “gear position detection” system, which “checks the gear’s exact position and corrects the display if it is inconsistent with the quartz’s time base.” The watch can also readjust itself after a shock or in the presence of a magnetic field.