I am certainly not a “watch snob”. But there is no way I can consider a quartz watch to be a real timepiece at all.
The whole attraction of mechanical pieces, for me, is the complexity of a mechanical movement and the engineering and craft that goes into producing it. For sure, there are “better” ways of telling time. But the notion of wearing a tiny machine on your wrist, with moving parts and mechanical power, is what my passion for timepieces is all about. Up until about the 1960’s or 1970’s, such a device was actually needed for telling somewhat accurate time. There were no cell phones, laptops and LCD screens everywhere.
Then, around the early 1970’s, the Japanese introduced quartz technology. This revolutionary timekeeping technology allowed companies to produce inexpensive wristwatches that were FAR more accurate and reliable than traditional watches with mechanical movements. Then came the “quartz crisis” where Swiss watchmaking companies struggled to compete with newer, cheaper technology.
Fast-forward to today and you will know that mechanical watches are enjoying a real renaissance. Style-conscious young guys with bonus cheques to spend are going nuts for proper timepieces again.
So what’s the difference anyway? A proper piece is powered by a spring that is either wound manually or by a rotor that turns with the movement of your wrist (i.e. an automatic). A quartz, on the other hand, is powered by electricity… a battery. Although a quartz movement is super accurate and reliable, there’s just no craft involved- no heritage, no art, no… soul. A guy who buys a quartz is doing so because it’s practical, affordable and dependable and MAYBE it looks nice. Where is the f___ing fun in THAT?!?! Mechanical pieces make no practical sense, can cost obscene amounts of money and require lots of fiddling and adjusting. But man, mechanical pieces are FUN! It’s all about passion.
I’ll admit it- I own one quartz. It was the first watch that I ever bought for myself and I didn’t know any better. It has sentimental value, it has nice brushed steel and I wear it for vacations, cycling, cleaning the garage and going to Home Depot. So you see — there IS a place for quartz in my world after all! But no way would I wear said quartz to a meeting or to a function. I’d feel ridiculous.
There’s nothing really wrong with buying a quartz watch if that’s what you like. If you don’t have a passion for timekeeping and you just want an object stuck to your wrist that indicates the time of day, then a quartz is definitely for you. Hell, you can collect them if you want. You can buy a dozen quartz objects for the price of a nice IWC. How great is that?
If you value heritage, style, engineering and craft, then you must wear a mechanical timepiece. If you want to communicate to the world that you value quality and tradition, then get a real piece. And if you want to consider yourself a true timepiece aficionado, then you know what you need.