Luxury VS Affordable Watch Movements | What's the difference? | Watch Guru

Luxury VS Affordable Watch Movements | What's the difference? | Watch Guru

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I know the feeling. You look at two watches, they more or less look exactly the same. Then you look at the prices, and they are worlds apart! How can this be? It’s most likely down to the movement. Yes, the small mechanism found within the watch takes up most of cost usually. So, a watch housing a luxury movement will naturally cost more than one with a very basic one.

Affordable VS Luxury Watch Movements

Let’s compare affordable and luxury, quartz and mechanical watches.

The general rule of thumb is that Mechanical movements are more expensive than quartz, as they’re more complex. And luxury movements will be made to a much higher standard and offer more features than its affordable counterparts.

Affordable Quartz Watch Movements

Let’s start off with quartz. Affordable quartz movements have a very small amount of parts and are often tremendously basic. Take this Casio for example - quite possibly the most simple example of a watch going. But it’s less than £20! Most of the time they’ll just have time and date functionality - and then calendar or chronograph for the next level up.

They don’t look particularly nice, but they don’t need to. More often than not they’re hidden away in a case and only need to be seen when the battery needs changing.

Luxury Quartz Watch Movements

As you move up the value chain of quartz watches, they get a lot more sophisticated and feature rich. The most luxurious quartz would be by grand Seiko, with out of this world precision and craftsmanship. Between there and this Casio, we have a huge selection of impressive quartz watches available.

Take this Bulova Precisionist. Yes it’s a quartz, but it’s super powered. It uses a three-printed crystal rather than a two-pronged, resulting in a vibration frequency of 262kHz instead of the usual 32kHz. This results in exceptional accuracy, and a smooth sweep of 16 ticks per second - that’s double the usual beat rate of a Swiss automatic.

These high-accuracy quartz movements are the kind you’d find in the grand Seiko, Longines and even Breitling. So this Bulova is a snip.

There are other special quartz movements too, such as solar power and radio control setting,

Affordable Mechanical Watch Movements

Moving on to mechanical movements - this is where the difference is much more telling. For our affordable option, we have this Locksley London with an open heart. What a beautiful watch this is for the price. Seriously - it’s very difficult to fault it. This watch is powered by the Seiko Nh38 - a tremendous rugged, reliable movement.

But of course, with a cheap movement, there’s a limit to the labour spent on it. The specs are the most basic they can be, and the finishing is “industrial” shall we say. In terms of complications, it’s very difficult to go beyond the standard time and date and still maintain an affordable price, purely because of how complex mechanical movements are.

Luxury Mechanical Watch Movements

If we then compare that Seiko movement found in the Locksley London to this Roamer Competence Skeleton, you’ll notice how much better finished it is - it’s exquisite. It’ll also boast a much better accuracy, and a higher beat rate - that is, the number of ticks per second, resulting in a smoother second hand.

If we go up a level and look at the movement found within my Omega Planet Ocean, we have one of the most sophisticated automatic movements available today. With a huge power reserve, coaxial escapement, high magnetic resistance, exceptional accuracy approved by METAS and COSC, plus being made in-house in Switzerland by omega themselves, it’s easy to see the differences.

Other complications you’ll find on more luxurious automatic movements include a chronograph, perpetual calendar, tourbillon, moon phase, and jumping hour, just to name a few.

Final Thoughts

Now that we've had a chance to properly dig into the different types of movements, the basic answer to what is the difference between affordable and luxury quartz and mechanical movements is simply the complexity and quality of them.

blog author

Joshua Clare-Flagg

Watch It All About

As an avid consumer of affordable watches with amazing quality, our Watch Guru Joshua Clare-Flagg from the popular watch blog Watch It All About is giving an insight into his thoughts on the watch world.

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