7 of the most expensive quartz watches that make a compelling case for quartz

7 of the most expensive quartz watches that make a compelling case for quartz

Buffy Acacia

Created in the pursuit of accuracy, it didn’t take long for quartz watches to decimate the Swiss watch industry for their affordability, reliability, and variety. That said, the very first Seiko Astron was intended as a luxury watch with a solid gold case, and there’s always been desire for the convenience of quartz in a fine jewellery package. If anything, the demand for luxury quartz only goes up as new technologies are developed. If you’re looking to get in at the top, here are seven of the most expensive quartz watches.

Girard-Perregaux Casquette 2.0

Girard Perregaux Casquette 2 0

The LED watch has made a surprisingly strong comeback along with 1970s style, but taking an objectively attainable technology and spinning it into a luxury product creates some wild results. The Casquette 2.0 from Girard-Perregaux is particularly fascinating as a reissue of the original, but now with a black ceramic case with a matte, sandblasted texture. With an LED display and quartz movement, all of the development here is focused on the case and bracelet, leading to exceptional quality of wear. The ceramic bracelet is backed with rubber for comfort, and the case has a caseback and highlights of titanium for lightweight contrast. In addition to the basic time and date functions of the push-to-activate LED archetype, the calibre GP3980 also includes an annual calendar, chronograph, second time zone and the ability to pick a “secret date” for remembering special occasions. Price: US$4,700

Citizen Eco-Drive One

Citizen Eco Drive One

Simplicity and elegance don’t usually go hand-in-hand with sports watches of the 1970s, yet here is the Citizen Eco-Drive One combining those elements flawlessly. The ultra-thin calibre 8826 allows this watch to be just 3.88mm thick, with a curved, one-piece stainless steel case that’s been given a scratch-resistant coating. It’s an Eco-Drive watch, meaning the black dial is slightly translucent for solar charging and doing away with battery replacements. On a full charge, it can run for 12 months, however its +/-15s per month accuracy isn’t as impressive as the calibre 0100 which isn’t currently available. Price: US$4,750

Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33

Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X 33 white back

As you could probably guess from its franchise-associated name, the Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 is inspired by science fiction as well as real space travel. Given that Omega is an authority on watches in space, having been partnered with NASA since the ‘60s, the brand knows exactly what an astronaut needs on their wrist as technology evolves. Its design is derivative of the Speedmaster Moonwatch we all know and love, but features a 45mm titanium case and a digital display occupying a large section of the dial. The dark grey is seamlessly integrated so it looks like the numerals are floating in place, giving you quick access to the chronograph, world time, alarm, and perpetual calendar functions. Price: US$5,900

Breitling Emergency

Breitling Emergency II 51

When discussing watches that could save your life, it’s rare that the watch actually plays an active role. The Breitling Emergency, however, can serve as a legitimate rescue tool should a disaster arise, sending out an analogue signal at 121.5MHz and a digital signal at 406MHz, replacing a personal locator beacon. Not only is it an expensive quartz watch at US$19,300, but in the case of causing false alarm, you’ll then be liable for all of the search and rescue costs as well as the reconditioning of the watch, and that could be a huge bill. In its own right, the 51mm diameter and the DLC-coated titanium case makes for a rough-and-ready adventure watch that would more likely dent a tree than pick up scratches. Price: US$19,300

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time 5269R

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce 5269R

There’s always a collective gasp when Patek Philippe discontinues one of its iconic models, but it’s now clear that there’ll be a rotating cast of references in new colours and variations to heighten the sense of exclusivity. The Aquanaut Travel Time has been a grail watch for a huge amount of watch enthusiasts since its introduction thanks to the contemporary-sport looks and the utility of the home time hand and day/night indicator. This recent reference 5269R is punchy with a solid 18k rose gold case in a compact 38.8mm size, and the mystifying opaline blue-grey dial colour with matching rubber strap. The quartz calibre E 23-250 S FUS 24H certainly doesn’t roll off the tongue and hides behind a solid caseback, but it works intuitively with all complications going through the crown. Price: US$35,350

F.P. Journe Élégante 48 Gino’s Dream

FP Journe Elegante Ginos Dream 5

François-Paul Journe is one of the most highly regarded independent watchmaker alive, and is known for his creativity and execution in the mechanical watches he produces. A watch that he is less well-known for, but is no less remarkable, is the quartz-powered Élégante. Using a proprietary two-rotor motor electromechanical movement, the Élégante has a standby mode that is activated after 35 minutes of the watch being stationary, to save the battery, giving the watch a life of 8 to 10 years of daily use, and up to 18 years in standby mode. In addition, the titanium-cased watch features an open caseback that reveals a solid gold quartz movement that has been beautifully finished, as you might expect to see from a mechanical watch by Journe. The respect he has shown the technology here is telling. Gussied up with an array of bezel-set ceramic glass stones, the Gino’s Dream version was produced in dedication to Serge Cukrowicz, a close friend and frequent collaborator of Journe’s. It also happens to be the latest and most expensive variant. Price: US$43,390

Cartier Libre

Cartier Libre Scrunchie

If this was a totally honest list, it would probably just be full of iced-out Royal Oaks in precious metals. We’re sticking to watches which prioritise their function as watches over the aspect of pure jewellery, but I had to include at least one. Cartier loves to experiment, and the Cartier Libre Watch almost looks like a metal scrunchie on the wrist. The case and bracelet are sprung to appear elasticated without any actual elastic, allowing it to slide over the hand and easily cling to the wrist. The tiny hands are powered by an even tinier quartz movement, but it’s the 18k rose gold assembly set with 735 diamonds, 84 black spinels, 56 sapphires, 52 corals and 52 chrysoprasi which really demands attention. Price: US$300,000