Thought the Brexit debate was bad? Try asking the watch world to choose between quartz and mechanical. The former boasts increased accuracy and cheaper maintenance costs. The latter is a product of fine craftsmanship, fused together by a watchmaker of skill. So, which is better: the mass-produced but accurate quartz, or the more expensive but artisanal mechanical?
There is no clear answer. And neither side is likely to call a truce anytime soon. Which is why, seeking to find some middle ground during the Quartz Crisis, a hybrid was developed – the mecaquartz.
A chronograph usually contains two isolated movements (quartz or otherwise) to separately power the time function and the timer. The mecaquartz, however, uses a single quartz motor to power both. How? A network of gears splits power from the same motor, directing some to the big hands and some to the sub-dial.
Which is where the mechanical part comes in: the gear-operated mechanism creates a clicking sensation to the pushers (akin to a traditional mechanical watch), the kind of finger satisfying sound that an ordinary quartz movement lacks. Plus, a mecaquartz watch instantly resets a chronograph to zero with a second click – something else you can’t get with quartz. The feel of cogs, for the price of quartz.
Helgray Silverstone Blue
Like many mecaquartz watches, the Helgray Silverstone Blue offers a slightly domed sapphire crystal glass – a feature introduced to differentiate models from the usual mechanical range.
This particular iteration is anything but standard though. A classic blue dial is offset by orange hands to provide contrast, and Helgray includes two interchangeable straps: a stainless steel bracelet for the boardroom, and a weekend-friendly leather alternative.
Available at Helgray, priced £225.
Seiko Chronograph Overseas Model SSB025PC
A diamond white dial and a stainless steel bracelet make for one ice-cool watch.
With a chronograph function and a tachymeter scale included for under £250, this particular model is a fraction of the cost from similar brands. Plus, you’ve still got that all important semi-mechanical movement inside.
Available at Amazon, priced £238.
Autodromo Prototipo PCW1
The Autodromo Prototipo offers Seiko craftsmanship in a brand new shell. Literally. Seiko has long shared its in-house movements with smaller independent labels and this particular iteration houses the same mecaquartz movement as an SSB025PC.
What differentiates the Prototipo is a design that nods to Italian 1970s motorsports: clean lines, off-white and pops of colour that are more Targa Florio than Tokyo tech.
Available at Page & Cooper, priced £505.
Many would assume that a sports watch and a dress watch will never (and should never) merge. Try telling that to the Belmoto Tourer-GBG. It’s got a chronograph function, for those days behind the wheel, but the rose gold case and calf leather strap are hallmarks of a top table-ready timepiece.
True, Belmoto is no Blancpain. But there’ll be no skidmarks on your bank statement either.
Available at Belmoto, priced £525.
Straton Watch Co Curve Chrono
Although not officially released yet, the Straton Curve Chrono looks set to rekindle the mecaquartz category. From Milanese to rubber straps, gradient tachymeter scales to all-black designs, the Curve Chrono’s USP is all in the name – the case is bent to match the shape of the wrist for a closer, more comfortable fit.
And again, there’s the same reliable Seiko movement ticking away inside.
Available to pre-order at Straton Watch Company, priced £375.80.
BOLDR Journey Chronograph Wasp
Sometimes, you just want a watch to look good. After all, what maniac goes deep sea diving with a £10,000 timepiece round his wrist?
This is what makes the BOLDR Journey Chronograph so refreshing: not only is the murdered-out design modern, but it’s also versatile enough to sit with every weekend ensemble. Minimalism guarantees more bang for your buck.
Available at BOLDR, priced £200.