When discussing the accuracy of watches, we are almost always referring to mechanical watches. However, not all quartz watches have the same performances when it comes to accuracy. As watch accuracy geeks, we are concerned by the topic for manual wind, automatic and quartz movements! The goal is to have an accurate watch giving accurate time, right?
Over the past years, watchmakers have been introducing new chronometer certifications for mechanical wristwatches and, for quartz movements, improved performances with HAQ (High Accuracy Quartz). We will consider that a quartz watch with a variation in rate of -10 / +10 seconds per year deserves the title of HAQ.
Here are some of the most accurate quartz watches and innovations.
In 1984, Longines launched the 276 VHP (Very High Precision) watch movement. This quartz calibre featured a technology that compensates the effect of temperature variations. In 2017, with the new Conquest VHP, Longines introduced a new movement developed in exclusivity by ETA. The level of precision is incredible with -5 /+5 seconds per year.
The Longines VHP also has a feature to reset its hands after an impact or exposure to a magnetic field, using a GPD (gear position detection) system. An other useful feature is its end of life indicator, letting you know when to change the battery.
The simple model can be found around $1’000 but some great deals are available if you are willing to purchase online your Longines VHP. For those looking for complications with the same level of precision, the Conquest VHP can also be found in a GMT or Chronograph version.
Breitling also know a bit when it comes watch accuracy. In 1999, Breitling decided to switch to a 100% chronometer-certified production. Today, with Rolex, Breitling is one of the companies that gets the largest number of COSC certificates.
In 2011, Breitling introduced its SuperQuartz techonology for its entire quartz production. The goal was to offer an accuracy that was ten times superior as what could be found with regular quartz movements. The accuracy is of 15 seconds per year versus 150 seconds of variation.
Here as well, watchmakers (or most probably engineers!) designed a system to correct the temperature variations. The system works with a tiny thermometer and a correction is made to the watch’s rate depending on the temperature.
Today, the SuperQuartz movement can be found in Breitling’s Exospace B55, our favorite is the blue one in titanium!
Omega Spacemaster Z-33
The Omega Speedmaster Spacemaster Z-33 is the evolution of the famous X-33. Originally released in 1998, it is not produced anymore, making it a hit for collectors.
Inside the Spacemaster Z-33 is the Omega caliber 5666, thermo-compensated quartz movement which operates similarly as the Breitling Superquartz. This one has an accuracy of 10 seconds per year. Outside is a grade 5 titanium case inspired by the original shape of the legendary Flightmaster 1969!
The cool feature here is a LCD screen that adapts automatically based on the ambient luminosity. On top of that, you will also find two time zones, a perpetual calendar, a chronograph, a timer and an alarm loud enough to be heard in a noisy cockpit. Pretty much the ideal pilot’s quartz toolwatch!
Pro tip: Read the Omega Moonwatch Only book!
Seiko SBCM023 Perpetual Calendar Diver
Inside a classic diver’s case beats a quartz-powered 200M ISO-rated dive watch. This one is accurate to 20 seconds per year, yes not a HAQ, but still impressive! Quite unusual in a diver’s watch, you will have a very legible perpetual calendar. As for the battery, Seiko announces that it has at least 8 years of power reserve.
The watch’s overall design is similar to Seiko’s superstars : the SKX007 & SKX009. (Pro tip for die-hard fans : get one on your wall!) It has all the nice design features you would expect from this kind of watches with it’s crown at 4 o’clock and large Lumibrite indexes.
This discontinued quartz series was originally made for the Japanese market but some examples were still exported in Europe or the US.
Grand Seiko 9F Series
Speaking of Seiko, we had to talk about the Grand Seiko and its 9F Series! This model has an instant date change mechanism, a first for a quartz powered movement. Another unique thing is the fact that this watch is assembled entirely by hand unlike most quartz watches.
Regarding the watch accuracy, we are talking here of 10 seconds per year. This is obviously impressive but this watch is much than just accuracy. The level of finishing of the case, the hands, the dial and the technology of the movement is what you can expect a Grand Seiko to be.
We had to mention the Citizen Eco Drive Calibre 0100! Citizen has a long story of quartz accuracy records! Their first quartz watch accurate to 10 seconds per month was released in 1973. In 1975, the Crystron Mega was introduced, the world’s first quartz watch accurate to 3 seconds per year!
Marking their 100th anniversary, Citizen Introduced Calibre 0100, an Eco-Drive movement with an annual accuracy of 1 second, setting a world record! This is done entirely through the movement, without relying on an external source such as GPS or radio towers. Unfortunately, this is still a concept watch for now and not available for sale.
The design is unexpected, who would have thought of a quartz watch looking like a pocket watch? By looking at its dial, you would imagine that you would find a good old balance wheel in the movement!