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If you judge a watch by its craftsmanship and artistry, then mechanical watches are the champions. But if you judge a timepiece by the simple metric of telling time, then the victory of quartz is crystal clear. Where a mechanical watch relies on small wheels and springs to keep time, a quartz watch uses an electric current (supplied by a battery, in most cases) and an oscillating quartz crystal to measure time. Although quartz watches are often looked down on by many watch enthusiasts, a quartz watch for men is far more accurate than even the most advanced mechanical watch.
While they’re an affordable alternative now, quartz watches weren’t always that way. Seiko introduced the Quartz Astron 35SQ in 1969, and the cost for Seiko’s brand-new quartz watch was astronomical. Quartz timekeeping technology had actually already existed in clocks for decades, but it took Seiko’s engineering expertise to squeeze that kind of tech into something you could wear on your wrist. As with most new tech, the price dropped rapidly. These days, quartz watches are by far the most affordable kinds of analog watches. Many storied watch brands like Timex, Swatch and of course, Seiko, rely heavily on quartz for their watches.
Quartz has several key advantages over more expensive mechanical and automatic watches. As mentioned, quartz is supremely accurate, losing only a few seconds a month. By comparison, a really good mechanical watch might still lose a few seconds per day. Upkeep is another major factor. Automatic and mechanical watches need to be maintained, which can be pretty costly. Meanwhile, a quartz watch battery should only need replacing once every couple of years, often at a cost of less than $10 for both the battery and the labor. And crucially, the watches themselves are very affordable. Because of the simplicity of their components, quartz watches are also generally thinner than mechanical watches, which can make them more comfortable to wear.
Types of Watches:
Mechanical watches: Mechanical watches are the oldest kind of watch. They need to be hand-wound to keep time.
Automatic watches: Automatic watches are a kind of mechanical watch, which relies on the movement of the wearer to keep the watch wound. These are often more expensive.
Quartz watches: A quartz crystal is combined with a battery to keep time. These are low-maintenance, but not always as durable.
Smartwatches: A smartwatch can show your texts and emails and monitor health metrics like heart rate and blood oxygen levels, but the battery needs to be recharged often.
Mechanical watches will continue to command adoration for the craft and care that goes into producing them, and rightfully so. But for many people, a quartz watch makes more sense for daily use. The battery doesn’t need to be charged daily, unlike a smartwatch, and they don’t need costly maintenance. Quartz simply does a better job of telling time than mechanical, which, at the end of the day, is what a watch is supposed to do.
Read on for some of our top picks for the best quartz watches to buy online.
1. Timex Unisex Weekender 38mm Watch
Of all of Timex’s offerings, the Weekender is by far one of the most beloved, and it’s not hard to see why. It has a stylish face that’s rugged enough to work outdoors and sleek enough to wear to the office, and the large numbers make for easy legibility. It comes in either leather or nylon straps, most of which are slip-through for easy changing. And like most Timex watches, the Weekender includes Indiglo, which lights up the face with a press of the crown for easy reading in the dark.
2. Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Diver Quartz Men’s Watch
This rugged diver takes advantage of Eco-Drive, one of Citizen’s most popular and well-known features. Eco-Drive uses a solar cell to power a rechargeable battery, meaning you never need to replace the battery. Sitting at an office all day? That’s okay, Eco-Drive works with any kind of light. The watch is water-resistant to 200 meters, and the rubber strap (technically polyurethane) means this watch can handle whatever you put it through.
3. Casio Men’s A158WA-1DF Stainless Steel Digital Watch
BEST DIGITAL WATCH
Analog isn’t the only option. Casio’s digital display watches are also powered by quartz, and this simple watch has an 80’s inspired vibe that’s surprisingly versatile today. It has a luminous display to easily read in the dark, a day and date display. There’s also an alarm and a stopwatch, so you can use it as your morning alarm clock. Not bad for 20 bucks.
4. Seiko Men’s Essential Brown Leather Strap Watch 40.4mm
BEST DRESS WATCH
Despite the fact that Seiko invented the quartz watch, they’ve actually put a lot of focus on their automatic timepieces, including the sporty and affordable Seiko 5 line and the dressy, premium Presage line. But make no mistake, the brand still excels at producing quartz timepieces. This dressy watch has a rose gold finish on a brown leather strap, with a small date window at the 3 o’clock position. It also includes a second hand.
5. Hamilton Swiss Boulton Brown Leather Strap
BEST SQUARE WATCH
Swiss watchmaker Hamilton got its start as an American company, worn by the likes of none other than Elvis Presley. These days, the brand combines the best of both worlds, bringing Swiss expertise to classic American looks. This unique square watch is powered by a Swiss quartz movement and it has a seconds subdial.
6. Swatch 1907 BAU Quartz Silicone Strap
BEST CASUAL WATCH
Swatch injects a much-needed dose of fun into the staid world of Swiss watchmaking. Swatch uses unpretentious materials like rubber and plastic, and their watches are not lacking in color, either. This watch may have a black strap and a white face, but the red, yellow and blue hands add a vibrant look.
7. Void Watches V03D
BEST SCANDINAVIAN WATCH
While Swiss watchmaking may be legendary, Swedish brand Void shines a spotlight on Scandinavian design. The analog VO3D has a three-hand face with simple numerals, and the 38mm face suits different wrist sizes. The watch may be nearly anonymous, but you can guarantee you’ll get questions about where you got it.
8. Tissot PRX Bracelet Watch, 40mm
BEST SWISS WATCH
Plenty of Swiss watchmakers have dabbled in quartz (yup, even Rolex). That includes Tissot, a nearly 170-year old brand that produces rugged yet classy timepieces like the PRX, which has a Swiss quartz battery. The stainless steel build and simple face make for a watch that you can wear just about anywhere, and it has a three-hand face with a date window.