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- Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:00 pm
Today, since it's raining cats and dogs here, I decided to put on something I consider one of my toughest watches that I fluked into a couple of years ago – a Victorinox Swiss Army Chrono Classic 1/100th. This VSA model originally came out in 2013 and didn't go over particularly well, particularly since what I've read on various sites is that a whole mess of buyers couldn't figure out how to set the unique watch, which offers a perpetual calendar, a super-accurate chronograph (the second hand serves as the chronograph hand, while the disc reading displays the fractions of seconds – hence, the “1/100th”), tachymeter, and displays the month and year, all in the same watch using a rotating disc system. Press the crown twice and you can move from function to function while the chronograph is running in the background. My personal favorite feature is the perpetual calendar. My other favorite thing about the watch is that I caught it out of the corner of my eye for like $79 or something at a Nordstrom Rack – the watches, when original sold, had MRSPs of up to $975 for a watch that has been described as a high-end quartz. (The big Tourneau store in midtown NYC here is still selling one of these for full price.)
The VSA uses a Soprod SOP FM13D movement, which, obviously, is pretty packed with features. True, it's complicated in every possible way; I keep referring to the manual often when resetting after battery changes. But this movement is way cool and a stone blast to just tinker around with, and it's in a watch that's not half-bad looking and solid as a rock. Yeah, it takes time to set, but it's fun to set.
Which got me to thinking: As I get older and my collection is just about finalized, I have nothing against quartz at all … given that the movement is a quality one. I believe that too many watch buyers and hobbyists pooh-pooh quartz thinking the movements are pretty much all the same, from the watches you see in drug stores to the movements that higher end brands such as Tag Heuer and Omega use in some of their models.
As for me? I'd rather research the difference and know going in that a good quartz movement offers a lot of bang for the buck while allowing watch owners the same high quality that they'd find in automatic versions of literally the same watches. A few years ago, I found something while browsing around at Tourneau during a sale that just floored me – a preowned Omega Seamaster from around 1999 or so (the 2223.80), in absolutely like-new condition, selling for the eye-popping price of $1,495. With that classic Seamaster bracelet. With the 300-meter water resistance. With the helium escape valve. With the Bond-style that took hold when Omega first was seen in the Bond films. With the anti-reflective sapphire. With the sleek case.
But...it was a quartz watch. Yet, it was nearly the same as another Seamaster, an auto, sitting right next to it selling for $3,800. Except for the movement. I mean, in use, the 2223 did the same thing the automatic model did, but one was a quartz and the other an auto.
I bought the quartz version. I thought it was a freakin' deal, and to this day, I still do. This model is packed with the Omega 1538 quartz movement (based on the ETA 255.461), a rhodium plated, perlage-decorated, nifty timekeeper with a superb end-of-life indicator and that gets a whopping 48 months between battery changes (and, yeah, since I bought it at Tourneau, the battery changes and cleanings are free for as long as I own the watch). Only a quartz, some would scoff? I'll keep it.
Here's a great write-up of the 1538 by a guy who really knows his stuff:
https://omegaforums.net/threads/quartz- ... ting.5475/
The two watches I've described are ones I own – but there are many more quartz movements that I wouldn't think twice about buying. My meaningless two cents: I consider the Grand Seiko SBGX263 one of the most handsome dress watches out there, one that just maybe I will soon own – and the 9F62 quartz movement inside only adds to my lust. So, you can get the uncanny quality of Grand Seiko featuring a thermocompensating movement that controls the watch's accuracy during weather changes, and offers accuracy of plus or minus about 10 seconds a year … for a list price of $2,200? Where do I sign up?
And who would scoff at The Breitling Emergency Watch, which virtually any gear head considers one of the all-time marvels in wristwatch history? Which can literally save your butt in an air or sea emergency? Run by a COSC-certified Breiting SuperQuartz chronometer movement, another temperature compensated, insanely accurate movement (sold as being 10 ten times more accurate than most quartz watches)? Those antennas? What, you didn't have GI Joe as a kid or something?
In all seriousness, when I log on to some watch sites and read people scoffing at “quartz” with a two-word insult or a haughty wave of the hand, I log off. YES, I prefer automatic movements, and own practically the entire ETA catalog, a Valjoux 7750, 9015s, the Orient stuff, the chop-socky 8215s, a whole buncha Sellita, and everything in between. Autos are first and foremost my choice, but so are high quality stainless steel cases, sapphire crystals, and styles and features I enjoy. The movement, to me, is just one facet of what makes a good watch a good watch.
But dismiss quartz out of hand? I'll take a 9F or 1538 any day of the week, and twice on Sunday. I'll take the best of all worlds that I can afford, without hesitation.