Explain Why Quartz Watches Can Be So Expensive?
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  1. #1
    Member Nathanours's Avatar
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    Explain Why Quartz Watches Can Be So Expensive?

    Hello everyone,

    I am pretty new to the world of watches in general, and haven't been able to figure out why quartz watches can cost so much. Before I started getting into watches I didn't understand how anyone could even spend upwards of $2000 on any watch (unless it contained gems or precious metals), but now I can appreciate the amazing workmanship and engineering that goes into nice mechanicals.

    What I still can't seem to wrap my head around is some of the prices of quartz watches though. I know they usually cost a good amount less than their mechanical counterparts, but how does a quartz watch cost $2000? A G-shock can be had for a tenth of that that can do much more than most of the higher priced ones. I guess what I'm really asking is, being the watch novice I am, what makes a metal case, a nice face and hands, and a good bracelet cost upwards of a thousand dollars? Mechanical watches have dozens of tiny parts that have to be perfectly fitted together, but a quartz watch is just a very simple circuit that cost almost nothing. I understand that the other parts can cost a good bit, but in a mechanical, isn't the movement the majority of what you're paying for?

    Thanks for educating me,

    Nathan
    Omega, Steinhart, Seiko, Glycine, Tissot, Tag Heuer, Citizen, and a few others...


  2. #2
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    Re: Explain Why Quartz Watches Can Be So Expensive?

    Because people pay it.

    In luxury items, price is rarely correlated with cost.

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    Re: Explain Why Quartz Watches Can Be So Expensive?

    How much do you THINK is the price of a good mechanical movement?

    2824-1 can be had probably for around $150 or so even in top grades with decent decoration but when you put it in Breitling, they charge you $3k for the watch.
    heck, ETA 6497-2 probably costing around $350 will be $5000 when put into a Panerai.

    In another words, actual cost of movement makes up very small portion of the watch price.
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    Member Nathanours's Avatar
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    Re: Explain Why Quartz Watches Can Be So Expensive?

    Interesting, I thought the movement cost more. I've only got a couple mechanical watches, a Seiko Orange Monster and an 54 Omega Seamaster with the 470 movement.

    I'm not trying to criticize quartz, I was just curious. When I see a movement like the one in my watch shown below, it just seems to make sense why it should cost what it does:

    Last edited by Nathanours; December 17th, 2011 at 05:43.
    Omega, Steinhart, Seiko, Glycine, Tissot, Tag Heuer, Citizen, and a few others...


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    Re: Explain Why Quartz Watches Can Be So Expensive?

    Quote Originally Posted by hpark21 View Post
    How much do you THINK is the price of a good mechanical movement?

    2824-1 can be had probably for around $150 or so even in top grades with decent decoration but when you put it in Breitling, they charge you $3k for the watch.
    heck, ETA 6497-2 probably costing around $350 will be $5000 when put into a Panerai.

    In another words, actual cost of movement makes up very small portion of the watch price.
    This reply should be a sticky at the top of the Public forum.
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    Re: Explain Why Quartz Watches Can Be So Expensive?

    This is a very valid question, for all mvts, not just quartz. There is no doubt there are many watches out there with a retail price bearing no relationship whatsoever to the cost of production, even after excusing the "normal" markup. On balance I think it's fair to say you pay more un-necessarily for quartz watches- look at the fashion quartz models, from Gucci etc. Total rip-off. I talked to one watchmaker who said he really couldn't believe how cynical some of these "luxury" brands are. He was getting in watches costing nearly a thousand pounds, with tiny cheap mvts and huge plastic spacers. These companies must have so little respect for their customers, but then again, the actual customers seem to have so little brain, it's as much their fault. I was going to say that it can be justified with a High End Quartz, but then remembered the Bulova Precisionist, which is HEQ but very reasonable ($500?). With a GS HEQ I'd say the mark-up is, er, less unreasonable than with many, but I think it's quite clear that many brands just make up a price and get the money for it, cause almost all buyers spend almost no time thinking about the mvt. I shied away from a $750 Hamilton when I found out the quartz mvt can be bought by anyone online for $40. Purlease don't insult me! I think if you look at the high end analog G-Shocks, with solid steel cases, high functionality and that uber-toughness, they make as much sense as any watch out there, from a value for money point of view. There is also a case to be made for limiting your purchases to say $500, unless or until you can afford to spend many thousands for a really high end mvt . How shocked would the average Cartier buyer be, who'd been told they'd been sold a watch with a "precision Swiss quartz mvt", to find out that it shares 90% of it's components with a Swatch Irony. This does not, however, mean either that "only mechanicals are good value" or " all quartz watches are a rip-off". ETA's 2824-2 can be had for as little as $400 to many thousands of dollars. And we all know that when it comes to accuracy, it can feel you're in the lap of the gods, with the "big two" affordable manufacturers regularly keeping pace with the High St Kings. It's bewildering, annoying and the more I find out about this subject, the less inclined I am to place any stock in what I see on people's wrists, with the exception of a very few brands.
    Last edited by Scottish Steve; December 17th, 2011 at 06:14.
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  8. #7
    Member Nathanours's Avatar
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    Re: Explain Why Quartz Watches Can Be So Expensive?

    Thanks for the responses guys, I guess what got me thinking about it all was the fact that my friend just bought a new Tag Heuer quartz Link, and the second hand hits directly between each second tick. It made it feel somewhat cheap for some reason, and got me to thinking about why it would cost so much.
    Omega, Steinhart, Seiko, Glycine, Tissot, Tag Heuer, Citizen, and a few others...


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    Re: Explain Why Quartz Watches Can Be So Expensive?

    I saw a quartz Tag that looked drunk. It hit maybe 3 of the 60 second markers and staggered about uncertainly throughout the rest of the dial, as if it had forgotten where it lived. There was no way this should have left the factory. If their q.c. is so lax thay can't even spot that, what else goes un-noticed? I will never buy a Tag due to that one watch. And now I know it's not a one-off, my conviction is strengthened.
    Last edited by Scottish Steve; December 17th, 2011 at 06:27.

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    Re: Explain Why Quartz Watches Can Be So Expensive?

    Because the "money" you use is worth less than yesterday.

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    Member AAWATCHES's Avatar
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    Re: Explain Why Quartz Watches Can Be So Expensive?

    There is somehing to be said about the high degree of expertice to design and build a quality mechanical timepiece and there is also a high degree of technical engineering needed to design and build a quality high end quartz.
    Quartz watches work with a series of electronic components, all fitting together in a tiny space. Rather than a wound spring, a quartz watch relies on a battery for its energy. The battery sends electrical energy to a rotor to produce an electrical current. The current passes through a magnetic coil to a quartz crystal, which vibrates at a very high frequency (32,768 times a second), providing highly accurate timekeeping. These impulses are passed through a stepping motor that turns the electrical energy into the mechanical energy needed to turn the gear train. The gear train turns the motion work, which actually moves the hands on the watch dial. One ic chip for a quartz watch may contain thousands of parts only visable with a microscope......
    Both type of watches demand respect for what they are and both have their place in the WIS world...

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