While haute horlogerie is all about insane complications these days, even basic mechanicals are lots of fun when we get to peek under the hood. It’s part of why watches fascinate us. But quartz watches? They give one the feeling of an absolute black box: no clue what goes on in there. Just a little black plastic movement the size of a subway token and a little battery that makes the whole thing go.
So sure, we’d rather go mechanical, but to overlook quartz watches is to ignore unique performance and a form-follows-function vibe in some pretty cool purpose-built watches. Witness our recent breakdown of the Tissot T-Race Touch and our write-up of the Victorinox Swiss Army Night Vision. Quartz watches are, by their very nature, more accurate and often more comfortable to wear than their mechanical forebears. Sometimes those traits are welcome, like when you’re swinging a golf club, marching into battle or just lifting a cold one on a hot afternoon. So let’s take a look at a few electromechanical beasts that wouldn’t be unwelcome in our watch box.
Chase-Durer Special Forces 1000XL
If you like blowing stuff up underwater, this one was made for you. The 1000XL is part of the Chase-Durer’s SPECIAL FORCES Underwater Demolition Team Chronograph series. To ensure utility, Chase-Durer conferred with officers and enlisted men from Special Forces units during the design phase to determine their needs in a tactical watch. They came up with a 316L stainless case and bracelet with black PVD coating housing a Swiss quartz chronograph movement featuring 12-hour, 60-minute, and 1/10th-second sub-dials. The screw-locking chrono pushers allow for a 300m water resistance rating.
Marathon Diver’s Quartz
More commando stuff, this time from Marathon, watchmaker to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). The Diver’s Quartz conforms to ISO 6425 requirements and uses tritium gas vials on the hour and minute hand for illumination. This one wins the Hairy-Chested Watch award in the group. Intended for Search and Rescue (SAR), the watch comes on a natural rubber Swiss-made mil-spec strap with stainless steel buckle. The 41 x 13.5mm 316L stainless steel case weighs nearly a quarter of a pound. It’s equipped with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, a 120 click uni-directional bezel, and is water resistant to 300 meters. An optional stainless steel bracelet is available if you like to shine passing barracuda on your snorkeling adventures.
Casio Edifice EM100-1AV
The EM100 from Edifice’s Advanced Marine Line is designed like a dive watch, although it combines analog and digital displays. The Edifice is a high-tech electro-mechanical timepiece featuring a tide indicator, moon data, thermometer, countdown timer and alarm, world timer (48 cities, 29 time zones) and perpetual calendar, 1/100th second stopwatch, and 12/24 hour format. The 46.7mm stainless steel case sports a unidirectional bezel and is depth rated to 200m. We love this watch, but we’re a bit curious why we need to know the time in Istanbul while we’re knee-deep on a bonefish flat, waiting on an incoming tide with fly rod in hand.
The M36 is a sleek, cushion-shaped chrono, nicely done in black PVD coated 316L stainless steel. A screw-down crown & threaded case back make this one good to a depth of 100 meters; the sub dials are laid out tri-compax style, which we find quite attractive, and the contrasting red chapter ring at dial’s edge is a great finishing touch. The sapphire crystal is coated on the front and back with anti-reflective coating, giving a great view of LÜM-TEC’s claim to fame: their magnificent LUM-TEC MDV Technology, great for ease of reading at the darkest depths. The quick-change three straps you get with the watch — a custom molded anti-static rubber strap, a black leather strap with dial-matching stitching, and a black PVD coated stainless steel bracelet — are all excellent.
The Breitling Aerospace has been a great choice for pilots and world travelers for nearly three decades. Although it’s gone through numerous updates over the years, the Aerospace has always featured a combination analog and digital dial. Time is indicated with oversized stick hands, while the second time zone, 1/100th second chronograph, countdown timer and alarm functions are indicated in the two backlit digital displays. All this functionality is controlled by pressing, pulling, or rotating the crown. Breitling’s trademarked SuperQuartz movement is thermocompensated (immune to temperature swings), chronometer-rated and neatly packaged in a 42 x 10.4mm titanium case.