Too often, quartz is disregarded as a cheap, passionless way to tell time. While mechanical watches are put on a pedestal as complicated high art (and to be fair, in many cases they are), quartz is labeled timekeeping’s easy answer. You can see how the perception takes root. High-end mechanical movements come from clean, brightly lit manufactures in the verdant Switzerland countryside; quartz-powered watches can be found for $50 at your local Big Lots.
But quartz watches shouldn’t be looked down upon. Many of our favorite affordable watches are made by well-regarded brands using great quartz movements. Even the high-end price range is home to some incredible quartz watches — spend four figures or more and you can have a watch that is not only more accurate than a similarly priced mechanical watch, but also comes with new features, and in impressive shapes. To put it bluntly, when watchmakers push the boundaries on what quartz movements can do, the result is some of the most technologically advanced timepieces you can buy. These five watches prove it.
Max Bill Mega
Some of Junghans' Max Bill-designed watches quietly sport some of the coolest quartz-powered technology around: radio-controlled quartz. These otherwise understated Bauhaus watches feature a special movement that constantly checks itself against radio time signals the world over to maintain an accuracy of +/- 8 seconds a year. What's more, they're solar-powered, meaning they sport a power reserve of up to three years, and the date will remain accurate until the year 2400. Not bad for a dainty little dress watch, eh?
Grand Seiko SBGN009
Who said quartz can't be beautiful as well as accurate? This GMT from Grand Seiko boasts all the high-end finishing and design typically associated only with mechanical watches, but matches it to the brand's high-end quartz movement, the 9F. (The particular version of the movement used here, the 9F86, includes a GMT complication and date display.) Boasting a perfectly sized 40mm case with a gorgeous, dark blue dial and a pop of yellow in the hands and indices, the SBGN009 is accurate to +/- 10 seconds per year.
Citizen Caliber 0100
Upon its release in 2019, the Caliber 0100 became the world' most accurate light-powered watch, with a stated accuracy of +/- one second per year. What's more, the movement is completely autonomous, meaning it doesn't sync to any sort of external signal, whether radio-controlled or otherwise. Though this tech doesn't come cheap — the watch starts at $7,400 — it's certainly unique: The quartz crystal within is shaped in something called an "AT cut," giving it more stability and resistance to temperature and position changes, as well as an ultra-high frequency of 32kH.
G-SHOCK MRG-B2000SH Shougeki-Maru Rising Dragon Limited Edition
Do we even have to say anything? Look at this f*cking thing. This is the watch Frodo probably wore on that trek to Mordor. It takes inspiration from the design of Japanese samurai helmets, called kabuto, and features a forged titanium bezel with unique color treatment achieved through the use of a sand die, brushes and a misting tool. The watch itself features all the best quartz-powered G-Shock goodies: access to 39 time zones, Tough Solar charging, 18 months of battery life and 200m of water resistance. In short: If this thing doesn't turn heads, no quartz watch will.
If you're not familiar with the Emergency, allow us to blow your mind: This fully badass, quartz-powered watch will tell the time, sure, but it also features a dual-frequency emergency distress beacon that, when pulled, will alert a rescue team to your location. Powered by the Breitling cal. 76, a COSC-certified SuperQuartz chronograph movement, the Emergency is available in plain or DLC-coated titanium and features a rechargeable battery. Just don't activate the beacon if you're not, you know, about to die: in addition to the watch's $16,475 base price, you'll pay a hefty fine.