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Automatic vs. quartz

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Stu, Jul 9, 2002.

  1. Stu

    Stu Senior member

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    I'm looking at some nice Omega dress watches, but can't decide whether to get automatic or quartz. The price difference is significant, with quartz much cheaper. The salesmen have differing opinions. One thinks automatic is problematic and doesn't work as well. The other thinks automatic is better, because it requires more engineering than does a quartz and is thus a finer piece of jewelry.

    What's the lowdown on this. Are automatic watches problematic, or are they more accurate than quartz?

    BTW: I assume manual winding watches are another thing alltogether, correct?
     
  2. davei

    davei Senior member

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    I think that technically, quartz is the most accurate (to 1/64000 of a second or thereabouts) but you have to change a battery. Â However, a well engineered automatic can be just as accurate in all practical terms - I have a 30 year old automatic Seiko that is off less than a minute a year (I never have to adjust the minute hand for daylight savings time.) Â This is based on the time using an Atomic Clock utility and www.time.gov. There's maintenance issues with automatic as well, but it's about has much hassle as changing a battery (quartz will go flaky when the battery is dying). I had the Seiko in for service once when I needed the band adjusted, which took less than a day. I have a service center near me though. Bottom line, buy a watch on price and looks, unless you're timing race cars or sprinters, in which case, you need something more accurate than a wristwatch. [​IMG]
     
  3. pstoller

    pstoller Senior member

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    As Dave says, quartz watches are more accurate. I'd say both your salesmen were correct, more or less: yes, automatic watches are more "problematic," for precisely the same reasons your second saleman likes them: they require far more engineering and craftsmanship, and the good ones are indeed fine jewelry.

    Manual-wind watches are very similar to automatics; the main difference is that an automatic has a "self-winding" mechanism that responds to the movement of the wearer (or, for the serious watch person, a moving case that keeps the watch wound when you're not wearing it).

    The right choice depends on your lifestyle and aesthetics. To me, it's like choosing between a Jeep and a Jaguar. If you're asking which one is "better," it really depends, "for what?" Quartz watches are not only less expensive, but also better suited to a highly active lifestyle. (You wouldn't buy a mechanical sports watch.) For evening wear or the executive boardroom, though, I'd opt for a fine mechanical watch, whether it's manual-wind or automatic.

    The quartz dress watch is more acceptable now than it once was, but I think of it as "business casual""”not really exceptional as either business or casual. That said, if you only have the money for one watch, a quartz dress watch is a reasonable compromise. Sadly (in my view), not that many people know the difference, anyway...and, even if they do, nobody should judge you on whether your second hand ticks or sweeps.
     
  4. RainCityClotheshound

    RainCityClotheshound Well-Known Member

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    Much of the difference in price among quality timepieces is,besides the marquee,the craftsmanship that went into building the movement,plus whether the case and bezel are made of precious metals. Omega is known for being one of the world's greatest producers of COSC certified chronometers,a measurement of their accuracy and durability. Quartz watches have the advantage of having fewer parts,so that they can be made with very thin cases. This makes them ideal for dress watches,designed to slip easily under the cuff of a gentleman's dress shirt. The allure of mechanical and mechanical-automatic watches is their construction. Mechanical watches are more for the connoisseur,who has an appreciation of the intricacies of the movement;the art of the machine. This is one reason why finer watches also have an exhibition back,the mineral glass or sapphire crystal on the back case,which allows the wearer to view the movement at work. Other timepieces even have skeletonized dials, which also allow a peek at the craftsmanship of the watch maker.
     
  5. LabelKing

    LabelKing Senior member

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    I vastly prefer mechanical movements, as I find that there is a certain allure, and that the workmanship that went into the watch is quite intriguing.

    Patek Philippe makes some of the best watches, but their prices are higher than most.
     
  6. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    In days gone by the price of a watch was an indicator of its accuracy. All this has changed with the arrival of the quartz watch. Even the cheapest Japanese quartz job is likely to beat a manual Patek Philippe in exactness of it's time keeping. Where a manual watch scores is the potential thinness of the movement and thus the elegance of the watch's appearance. (I don't know the exact record for the thinnest watch, it's maybe 3 mm=1/8", compared to twice the thickness in quartz).

    Because of the difficulties in producing a manual movement to that degree of accuracy to come close to quartz, the production of manual movements has virtually stopped apart from very few models of the top-makes. Self-winding (automatic) movements cannot be produced to the same degree of extra-thinness, but they are still the result of the watchmaker's skill. By all means, if you like the style, get a quartz watch: it will be more accurate than any mechanical watch. But of course, if you care about watches, nothing can replace that daily ritual of gently winding your watch between thumb and index finger.
     
  7. Joe G

    Joe G Senior member

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    Really? I didn't know that. Do you know who made that 3mm watch? The thinest watch I've yet seen are Swatch's "Skin" line, which are neat but not exactly elegant and not really my style. However, a super-thin, elegant watch for wear with a dinner jacket and such is exactly what's missing from my wardrobe right now, watch-wise. Oh, and as for JLC prices on this side of the pond. For a non-EU resident* (i.e. with "Tax Free for Tourists" partial VAT refund) the watch I want (a Reverso duplex in platnium with an ostrich band) comes to about US$6500, or about a rather significant US$3000 off American high street prices. Not a bad deal, but considering that I'll need to buy a car as soon as I hit Stateside, and figure that I should budget at least 40k for that, it's not one that I can take advantage of right now. (As a Muslim, I don't pay interest. Therefore, such things have to be paid for up front, in cash.) Peace, JG *If you are an EU resident but non-EU citizen, most EU residency visas easily steam out of your passport. But you didn't hear that from me [​IMG] )
     
  8. LabelKing

    LabelKing Senior member

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    The thinnest automatic movement watch was made by Piaget. Piaget is a luxury watch company based in Switzerland as most are.
     
  9. LabelKing

    LabelKing Senior member

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    The thinnest automatic movement watch was made by Piaget. Piaget is a luxury watch company based in Switzerland as most are.

    Also Audemars Piguet made an extremely thin one also.
     
  10. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I just had a quick look at the Patek Philippe site. The ulta-thin manual watches have a tickness of 2.5 mm, but, and that shows that my knowledge of watches is a bit out of date, the ultra-thin quartz watches are 1.8 mm. I presume someone makes an even thinner watch.
     
  11. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Hi Joe G,

    I realize that this may be a little off topic, but I am intrigued by your statement that your adherence to Islamic tenets precludes you from paying interest. It would seem from your posts that you come from a highly privileged and also wealthy background (not too many people get to interact with Nelson Mandela, for example, nor do their parents afford to give them Hermes coats.)

    However, I was wondering how the average wage earner could ever afford to buy either a new car or a house, which would be beyond the reach of nearly everyone if payment had to be made in full up front? Is there a provision either in the Qu'ran or by traditional practice that allows for this reality?

    Also, are Muslims allowed to benefit from interest? Does this preclude you from, for example, holding bonds (i.e. investing it debt), or even a savings account?

    Finally, what sect do you belong to? Do all branches of Islam adhere to this admonition against usury?

    Thanks in advance for the clarifications.

    LA Guy
     
  12. Joe G

    Joe G Senior member

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    There are other approaches that make such things possible. Leasing, for example with cars, or various transaction fees. With homes, a rent-to-own programme. There are some Islamic banks in the US that have such programmes, although the names escape me right now. Also, there's nothing wrong with installment-plan payments, even if the total amount paid is higher if one pays over time. For example, a car could sell for US$20k if paid up front, or US$25k if paid off within two years, etc.
    No. Bonds aren't allowed in general. (There are some exceptions, but I must admit a degree of ignorance on this matter, too.) Neither I nor anyone in my family has ever held an interest-bearing bank account, to my knowledge.
    I'm not an especially religous man, and indeed I feel guilty writing about religion right now because of the wine I had not too long ago. I guess you could say that the only pillar of Islam that I take deadly seriously is Zakat, or a small (2.2%) annual tax on fixed assets (savings, property, etc) payable to the less fortunate. I also don't fast, drink alcohol, or get it on during Ramadan. But inasmuch as I'm religious, I'm a mainline (Hanafi) Sunni. This branch of Islam, which is the most common type in West Africa, practiced by the Hashemite family (directly decended from Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him), and also very common in South Asia, is much more tolerant and accepting than the Wahabi or Shia varieties. Also, I would appreciate you not to refer to the divisions within Islam as "sects". Unless you likewise refer to Catholicism, Southern Baptism, Methodism, etc. as sects of Christianity, then you're being consistent and I won't complain. That, along with the use of "tribe" for families of African or Arab heritage, really bugs me. (Why write about the Quereshi tribe but the de Medici family, for instance?)
    To my knowledge, yes. Except for maybe Ismaelis, who are basically the Unitarians of Islam. Lots of Muslims don't "accept" them as Muslims, but I'd be willing to bet that Mullah Ashcroft and his cofanatics aren't terribly accepting of Unitarians as Christians, either. In general, I'm sorry if my answer wasn't as thorough as you were expecting. Religion in and of itself is not something that I'm especially knowledgeable of. I'm more interested in the political workings within religions and the interactions between them, and how such things play out vis-a-vis globalisation, etc. Still, I do expect I'll someday sell my gold watch and all of my silk ties, because Muslim men aren't supposed to wear either material. (Thankfully, cashmere is totally halal [​IMG] ) Giving up Merlot will be much harder... Peace, JG
     
  13. pstoller

    pstoller Senior member

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    For what it's worth (and it ain't much), I think of all branches of larger religions as "sects," be it Catholicism, Orthodox Judaism, or whatever. And, as a (non-practicing) Jew, well, we're officially "tribal" ourselves, and I don't find anything derogatory in that. It is, true, though, that there is a subtly- (or not so subtly-) implied primitivism in the Western usage of "tribe" in many cases. The word is used for groups that go well beyond immediate families, however; I don't think it would make sense to refer to the "Apache family," for example, in the same way we'd refer to the de Medicis. Of course, we can simply refer to the Apache people or Apache culture without ever resorting to the word "tribe." Does this make sense in an Arab or sub-Saharan African context? Personally, I think paying off a car in installments at a higher price than a lump-sum cash transaction is paying interest on a loan, no matter how you split your hairs, but I certainly wouldn't find it objectionable behavior by any but the most preachily devout...in which instance I'd only be objecting to what I would see as hypocrisy. And, if we're to look at these proscriptions as guidelines for healthy living rather than immutable doctrine, it's hard to argue with the inherent wisdom of most of them. (Does anyone really admire a profligate, ostentatious drunk?) [​IMG]
     
  14. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Joe G.,

    Thanks for the clarifications. I actually did some checking after I posted, and I also had several conversations with several practicing Muslims (but none of them Islamic scholars, by any stretch of the imagination.)

    As for the use of the word "sect", I think that the word is the most accurate term with which to denote religious groups sharing a common central belief, but adhering to different dogma. The term is not exclusively used to describe sects of Islam. I can't remember how many times the news starts with "Sectarian violence broke out once again in the Catholic/Protestant neighbourhoods or Belfast." The Catholic "Church" would refer to the particular entity headed by Rome, but Catholicism is most definitely a sect of Christianity.

    And the word tribe describes, rather concisely, a social group comprising numerous families, clans, or generations together with slaves, dependents, or adopted strangers, and carries with it connotations of primitivism only because the tribal structure is often found in primitive societies. (Please note that I use the word primitive in its literal sense of closely approximating an early ancestral type, and not in a derogatory sense.)

    In that sense, it might be argued that the Medici constituted a tribe, and that perhaps the Hapsburgs did as well, although it is difficult to reach a conclusion in either case, since neither of these entities were autonomous social groups. Canadians, on the other hand, do not a tribe comprise, since their primary connection with the group is not familial, nor is the political structure familial. I don't know much about Arab or African societies, but if the social structures are primarily familial, and the hierarchy is based on rankings within the extended family, these societies might very well be tribes. Be proud of being in a tribe if you are. The Israelites proudly proclaim themselves a tribe. So did the original Romans.

    I think it rather unfortunate that language is so thoroughly politicized. I can't even walk down the street and declare that I'm a proud mongoloid anymore. As a matter of fact, the word doesn't even register on my spell check.
     
  15. pstoller

    pstoller Senior member

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    Well, you could, and maybe you should, just to reclaim the word from its racist co-option as a description of people with Down's Syndrome. But, that, again, would be a sort of political act. (So, you couldn't just say "Mongolian?")
     
  16. Biggskip

    Biggskip Senior member

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    Getting back to the original topic (and yes I realize that this thread has been dead for six years), but I anyways, I digress.

    I know that on Rolex automatic models (I don't even know if they even produce any quartz models) that the second hand has a "sweeping" motion as opposed to a more standard "ticking" motion. Is the sweeping motion fairly common among automatic watches, or is this just a Rolex thing?

    Are there watch makers out there who make a quartz watch that also has a sweeping motion?

    LK, I know that you've been active on this thread once, here's hoping that you see this and can impart some of your wisdom on me.
     
  17. needshoehelp

    needshoehelp Senior member

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    I'm looking at some nice Omega dress watches, but can't decide whether to get automatic or quartz. The price difference is significant, with quartz much cheaper. The salesmen have differing opinions. One thinks automatic is problematic and doesn't work as well. The other thinks automatic is better, because it requires more engineering than does a quartz and is thus a finer piece of jewelry. What's the lowdown on this. Are automatic watches problematic, or are they more accurate than quartz? BTW: I assume manual winding watches are another thing alltogether, correct?
    Like another poster said, both salesman are correct. If this is going to be your one fine watch that you hope to keep for a long while, I'd splurge for the automatic. There's just something about it, and in case you ever decide to sell it, will likely have a higher resale value (as a percentage of original price). On the other hand, if you just want a watch that tells time and money is an issue, nothing wrong with quartz--although personally, if you're going the quartz I'd buy a less expensive watch than an Omega. Unless there is a certain design that you must have, it's harder to justify a ton of money on a quartz watch. I'd instead look into something like Oris or Hamilton.
     
  18. jefe

    jefe Senior member

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    Most (maybe all? not sure about this) automatic watches sweep. It's not a Rolex specific thing, but Rolex movements are generally of high quality and are very accurate. If you look at the specs of an automatic movement, it will have reading for BPH which is indicative of the accuracy of the movement. Generally higher BPH watches are the most accurate, while lower BPH watches can be a little more reliable because the movements require less powerful mainsprings among other things.

    All in all, all decent quartz watches are much more accurate than even the best mechanicals/automatics.

    Also, I don't think Oris makes a quartz watch. Pretty sure they just add a nice red rotor to some ETA/Valjoux movements.
     
  19. NiFTY

    NiFTY Senior member

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    quartz is more accurate and more reliable but a mechanical watch is a real work of art something you hand down to your children, a quartz watch hasn't been made by an artisan and is about as special and disposable as a mobile phone or an ipod.
     
  20. Biggskip

    Biggskip Senior member

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    No offense to NSH, but I love how I took the time to search for this thread, made specific mention in my reply that the thread had been dead for SIX years, and yet still the responses for the most part pertain to the OP's questions.

    Jefe, thanks for the info. I appreciate it.
     

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