Tested: The Best Quartz Watches for Every Budget (2024)

For many watch enthusiasts, their collections begin and end with the mechanical. Whether hand-wound or automatic, the vast majority of watches that collectors and aficionados drool over are powered by nothing more than a collection of gears and springs. Because of this, quartz watches tend to get overlooked by many in the watch community. That’s a shame because a great number of battery-powered timepieces are fully deserving of your attention — and we’ve laid out our favorites in this guide to the best quartz watches currently on the market.

Best Quartz Watches Breakdown

What Is a Quartz Movement?

You could think of a quartz watch as battery-powered, but there are some differences between chip battery watches and quartz. For one, the movement of the latter uses an actual quartz crystal, shaped like a tuning fork and housed in a metal cylinder called a regulator. The crystal passes electrical currents through it, causing it to vibrate at a very precise and constant rate. From there, a series of circuits harnesses the oscillation and transfers it to the hands by way of a gear train.

Video Review: The Best Quartz Watches

As good as the written word can be, nothing compares to seeing these beautiful pieces in stunning 4K. Dive into our best quartz watches video review for a closer look.

History of Quartz Watches

Quartz technology was invented in the 1920s but wasn’t implemented in production pieces for decades later. Prior to the 1969 release of the Seiko Astron 35SQ –– the first quartz watch –– the wristwatch industry was nearly dominated by mechanical movements since the beginning. Certain brands had experimented with electronic timepieces, but it wasn’t until the Astron that things really started to change. From there, we got the world’s first digital watch the next year with the Hamilton Pulsar, and nothing was the same ever again.

Throughout the 1970s and to the early ’80s, the mechanical watch industry, especially in Switzerland, suffered from what was known as the Quartz Crisis, which saw the near extinction of traditional horology in favor of cheaper, more reliable, and equally stylish timepieces. This brought a rise in Japanese brands, which embraced the quartz technology.

While hundreds of brands didn’t make it out alive, some were saved from decimation by the emerging names –– notably the Swatch Group –– that were dominating the industry because of the success of quartz.

Why Do People Love Quartz Watches?

Although they lack the centuries-long history and romance of mechanical watches, quartz watches are still worthy of a spot in your collection — and on your wrist. For one, they’re considerably more accurate than mechanical watches, with the best examples only being off a few seconds per year. The top-of-the-line mechanical watches, meanwhile, will deviate a couple of seconds a day. Quartz watches also require less maintenance, typically only needing a battery change every few years, and are generally more durable and not as easily damaged. This “grab and go,” “set it and forget it” convenience of quartz watches is certainly their main draw, and their general thinness and affordability only serve to sweeten the pot. But rather than continuing to sing the praises of quartz watches, we’d rather just show you the best examples that you can go out and buy right now.

What to Look for in Quartz Watches

Battery Life: Inherently, a quartz watch will keep ticking long after a mechanical watch stops. However, while some will last you a few years before dying (you cannot recharge quartz) others will run indefinitely with solar power.

Function: Watches are meant to tell time, first and foremost, but it’s always nice to have a few extra tools on hand (literally), such as a chronograph stopwatch, a GMT to display more than one time zone, or even an altimeter.

Style: The fun part about quartz watches is their willingness to be more playful with their designs. While you can still find some traditional-looking watches, your options are certainly more varied.

Durability: Some quartz pieces are among the most durable watches on the planet while others are like standard wristwatches. If you’re planning on sending your watch through the ringer, make sure it’s made with tough materials like steel, resin, or titanium.

How We Tested

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In recent years, mechanical watches have certainly come back into fashion and there’s a greater balance between quartz and mechanical than we’ve ever seen before. However, we certainly appreciate a solid quartz timepiece, to say the least. Due to the sheer number of quartz watches out today, it’s become difficult to find the best available. In fact, selecting the best watch in any category can become a challenge these days.

When preparing for the following guide to the best quartz watches, we first made a short list of models we wanted to test out. Based on design, color, function, price, and brand reputation, as well as some key specs (e.g., size, materials, strap), we selected the timepieces we suspected would be the best candidates. From there, we whittled down the options to the ones we wanted to test out.

No matter how good a watch looks online, you won’t know its true value until you spend some time with it on your wrist. Once we acquired the demo pieces from our initial shortlist, we put the watches on and sent them through a variety of scenarios to get a sense of their fit, comfort, and wrist presence firsthand. It took us weeks to figure out our favorites, which we’ve presented to you here in our list of the best quartz watches available.

Timex Q Timex Reissue

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  • Fantastic retro styling
  • Great wrist presence
  • Lots of colorways
  • Smaller size may not be for everyone

Although Timex has resurrected its mechanical watch business in recent years, the American heritage brand is still largely working within the battery-operated realm. Leading the charge on that front is the Q Timex Reissue, a wildly popular reimagining of a 1979 Timex that has reinvigorated the brand and injected a large dose of coolness into its lineup. A wide range of variations of the Q exist, and they’re so ridiculously affordable that you might as well pick up a few of them.

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Wearing the Q Timex Reissue on your wrist, you immediately feel like you’ve been transported back in time. The smaller lug-to-lug is noticeable, which may or may not be your preference. Regardless, the watch has some serious wrist presence and won’t weigh you down throughout your day.

Case Size: 38mm
Case Thickness: 11.5mm
Water Resistance: 50m


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  • One of the toughest watches on the planet
  • User-friendly function
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Lightweight despite girth
  • Chunky

No list of the best quartz watches would be complete without a G-SHOCK. The Casio offshoot is known for crafting some of the most rugged watches in existence, and a surprising number of watch enthusiasts have at least one G-SHOCK kicking around in their collection. For our money, the GSTB400 line offers perhaps the brand’s best combination of trademark toughness and stylish elegance. It’s the thinnest G-STEEL series watch the brand has ever produced, yet it’s still loaded with all of the goodies we’ve come to expect, like a world timer and Bluetooth connectivity.

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The first thing you’ll notice when putting on most G-SHOCKs is their girth, but the resin construction helps reduce the weight quite a bit and the watch is pretty comfortable. As for features, the side buttons follow a user-friendly utility and an intuitive functionality.

Case Size: 46.6mm × 49.6mm
Case Thickness: 12.9mm
Water Resistance: 200m

Dan Henry 1972 Maverick Chronograph

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  • Pays homage to Porsche Design watches of the ’70s
  • Has high perceived value
  • Limited styling options

Brazilian watch collector extraordinaire Dan Henry is the brains behind his eponymous microbrand that boasts a catalog of vintage-style pieces that are inspired by his own world-class collection. Perhaps the brand’s most daring and interesting piece is the 1972. Based on watches from the same year, it not only boasts identifiable half-century-old styling, but it houses a unique alarm chronograph movement; the type of which that’s almost never seen in modern analog quartz watches (or mechanical ones, for that matter).

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Well-lumed and sporting a countdown timer as well, the 1972 Maverick Chronograph wears a bit smaller than 41mm. A solid affordable alternative to the Porsche Design Chronograph 1 which it’s very much inspired by, the Dan Henry watch is a racing watch in a pilot’s watch’s body. We were surprised by the built quality of this timepiece, which offers style and utility for just $350.

Case Size: 41mm
Case Thickness: 12.7mm
Water Resistance: 50m

Citizen Promaster Diver

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  • Versatile style
  • Eco-Drive is the best solar power in the industry
  • Has classic dive watch appeal
  • Wears smaller than case size
  • Still pretty big

Proprietors of Eco-Drive technology, quartz movements that are powered by any light and almost never need a battery replacement, Citizen is another brand whose inclusion on this list was a no-brainer. The vast majority of Citizen’s catalog is powered by Eco-Drive, ranging from budget timepieces to expensive luxury examples. Our choice is near the lower end of the price spectrum, but it shouldn’t be underestimated. The Promaster is a legendary dive watch line from the Japanese brand, and this classically-styled version of the watch is crafted from stainless steel (although there is a version in Citizen’s proprietary and nearly-scratchproof Super Titanium material, but we had the stainless steel version for this review).

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At first glance, it’s difficult to assume that this piece is quartz-powered at all. Looking and feeling similar to its more expensive mechanical brethren, the timepiece is a quartz watch for the 21st century. And despite the 45mm case size, it wears much smaller thanks to the compact 22mm lug-to-lug measurements.

Case Size: 45mm
Case Thickness: 12mm
Water Resistance: 200m

Tissot PRX

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  • A solid Royal Oak alternative
  • Integrate bracelet is really classy
  • Tons of vintage charm
  • Versatile style
  • N/A

While Tissot’s subsequent release of the Powermatic 80-powered version of this watch may have stolen a bit of its thunder, the OG PRX remains one of the best bargains in the industry. For less than $400 you’re getting a retro-styled integrated bracelet sports watch with incredible finishing, 100m water resistance, a very on-trend look, and all from a brand in Tissot that boasts a ton of actual Swiss watchmaking heritage. Even mechanical watch snobs would be tempted to add one of these to their collections.

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A great first timepiece, the PRX Quartz soars on vintage charm, versatile style, and a highly-precise movement. You can rock this watch at the office or the bar, especially considering the accessible 40mm case size, which is neither too big nor too small.

Case Size: 40mm
Case Thickness: 10.4mm
Water Resistance: 100m

Brew Metric

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  • Unique design language
  • Chapter ring designed to help you time espresso shot
  • Chronograph function adds to the charm
  • Funky layout won’t be for everyone
  • Small

Arguably the most popular quartz-centric microbrand out there, Brew is the brainchild and passion project of industrial designer Jonathan Ferrer, who pens each of the marque’s showstopping watches. The Metric is one of Ferrer’s funkier designs, with a cushion case, an asymmetrical chronograph layout, a nicely-finished integrated bracelet, and a number of fun retro colorways.

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Another quirk, and a signature of the coffee culture-inspired brand, are the special markings on the chapter ring that are designed to help you time the perfect espresso shot. All of Brew’s timepieces are fairly playful, but this neon-touched option is one of their most, combining its inspired colorway with a chronograph function. Likewise, despite the 36mm case size, the Metric doesn’t wear small thanks to the integrated-style bracelet design.

Case Size: 36mm x 41.5mm
Case Thickness: 10.75mm
Water Resistance: 50m

Bulova Lunar Pilot

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  • Really stylish
  • Mimics original ’70s NASA watch
  • Chrono function adds some utility
  • Scratches easily
  • May be too big for some

Every watch enthusiast knows that Omega’s Speedmaster Professional was the first watch to be worn on the moon. But what you may not know is that it wasn’t the only watch to make the trek to the lunar surface. During 1971’s Apollo 15 moon landing, a Bulova prototype chronograph was worn by Dave Scott on the Moon, and this is the brand’s modern recreation of that watch. While the original was mechanical, Bulova utilizes its high-tech 262 kHz quartz chronograph caliber in the redux; an impressive movement that boasts a smooth sweep and accuracy to within seconds per year.

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Mimicking Scott’s original, this quartz version boosts precision and longevity while retaining the undeniable style. However, with its larger case size (there’s a 43.5mm version available as well), the lug-to-lug may make this unwearable on some wrists. And even though the case may scratch easily, the high-polish finish will wear these better than on a matte one.

Case Size: 45mm
Case Thickness: 13.5mm
Water Resistance: 50m

Seiko Prospex “Arnie”

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  • Unique analog-digital hybrid display
  • Faithful reissue of Schwarzenegger-worn watch
  • Good for lefties
  • Very large
  • Limited versatility

Despite it being a watch whose claim to fame rests with an on-screen soldier, Seiko’s “Arnie” is no less impressive. The modern reissue of the ‘80s quartz Seiko that Arnold Schwarzenegger strapped to his sizable wrist while shooting up the jungles of Predator and Commando, the updated Arnie maintains the original’s iconic ana-digi display but adds a solar-powered movement to the mix, making this example even better suited to jungle warfare (or, you know, a weekend camping trip).

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Staying true to its screen-used predecessor, the Arnie reissue hardly deviates at all from the original. With wrist presence coming from the sheer size of the nearly-48mm case size alone, the timepiece still wears much smaller and is a conversation piece because of its unique design regardless. We love how much utility the watch has, with or without the Hollywood reputation, and its unique display makes reading the time so much easier.

For a closer look, dive into our Seiko Prospex “Arnie” watch review.

Case Size: 47.8mm
Case Thickness: 15mm
Water Resistance: 200m

Hamilton PSR

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  • Remake of the first digital watch
  • Upgraded OLED display gives better legibility
  • Five year batter life
  • Comfortable and stylish bracelet
  • Limited function for a digital watch
  • Appeal may be too niche

While we have an unabashed preference for analog watches, the history of quartz watches cannot be told without discussing digital displays. While digital watches have long been amongst the most affordable in the industry, they originally were considered a luxury novelty. The very first to market was the Hamilton Pulsar, which was first unveiled in 1970 and soon found its way to the wrists of everyone from Keith Richards to James Bond. 50 years later, Hamilton brought the Pulsar back in the form of the PSR, featuring an upgraded OLED display.

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The PSR may not have the same amount of wide-ranging functionality as many of the watches on this list but as a simple time-teller, this piece certainly does the trick. Considering the upgraded LCD-OLED combo display, the five-year battery life is quite impressive. However, one of our favorite aspects of the watch is the three-link bracelet which is not only comfortable on the wrist but looks fantastic.

Case Size: 40.8mm x 34.7mm
Case Thickness: 13.3mm
Water Resistance: 100m

TAG Heuer Formula 1

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  • Doesn’t look like a quartz watch
  • Satisfying bezel clicks
  • Affordable end of the TAG Heuer spectrum
  • Aesthetics pop in different light
  • Still pricey for a quartz watch

Much of TAG Heuer’s lineup, particularly the triumphant trio of the Monaco, Carrera, and Autavia, are actually holdovers from Heuer before the watchmaker was purchased by TAG in the ‘80s, creating the current company. But the Formula 1, which first made its debut the year after the merger, is 100% a TAG Heuer original. The modern icon is considerably more luxurious than the plasticky Formula 1s of the ‘80s were, and the current quartz-powered timepieces make for great everyday watches.

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With sporty styling, versatile sizing, a robust build, and clear motorsports-derived heritage, the Formula 1 embodies the watchmaker’s motorsports ties while offering an affordable option for the consumer. Despite the increased price tag compared to the rest on this list, we do love the super-satisfying bezel clicks, the way the plating and dial pop when they hit the light, and the overall masculine presence of the timepiece.

Case Size: 41mm
Case Thickness: 11.65mm
Water Resistance: 200m

Tested: The Best Watches Under $300

If you’re after quartz watches simply for their affordability, you should head over to our guide where we tested and reviewed the best men’s timepieces under $300.

Tested: The Best Quartz Watches for Every Budget (2024)
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