Watches are, at the core, about creating a consistent oscillation that can then be transferred by gearing ratios into the units of time we measure our life by. The enemy of this consistency is friction, shock, creating uniform power delivery, temperature, gravity, magnetism, and really any external force. The slow march of time has given us at least partial solutions to these problems, but the past 50 years have seen several newer high-tech solutions to these problems. Here are some pre-owned picks that bring modern solutions to timeless problems.
Breitling Aerospace Evo E79363
Quartz watches solve many of the problems that affect mechanical watches by creating a tuning fork out of a quartz crystal. When an electric current goes through the crystal it will naturally vibrate at 32,768hz – while a mechanical watch will usually be closer to 2.5hz-4hz – and a circuit will measure this vibration and tell a stepping motor to move the seconds hand once every time it measures one second worth of vibrations. While quartz is very accurate, the vibrations will change as the temperature of the crystal changes. Enter Breitling with the SuperQuartz, a quartz movement that compensates for temperature changes – allowing for accuracy of around 15 seconds a year.
F.P. Journe Elegante 48
Yes F.P. Journe makes a quartz watch. This, of course, means it is very well decorated and on display; but it also means the case, dial, hands, and every part of the watch is going to get a level of attention that would make every other quartz watch in the world green with envy. The interesting part about this watch is the little open space in the dial with a micro-rotor in it. The rotor measures if the watch is moving around, and after 35 minutes of inactivity the watch will go into standby mode and stop moving the hands. However, the watch continues to register the time internally, and when picked up the hands will move to the correct time. It is a lovely dance to watch, one that conserves power enough to only need a new battery every 18 years in standby mode.
OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra 22.214.171.124.01.002
The first thing to highlight about any modern OMEGA is the co-axial escapement, an escapement developed by the legendary George Daniels to create almost no sliding friction in a watch. Friction in the escapement can lead to inconsistent oscillation when oil is not perfectly applied or starts to break down with age. The co-axial escapement is the first widely produced new escapement since the Swiss lever was perfected in the early 1800s. What is special about this Aqua Terra – nicknamed the bumble bee after the black-and-yellow seconds hand – is that it is also anti-magnetic. Now all OMEGA’s are METAS-certified and anti-magnetic to 15k gauss (about an MRI machine-level of magnetism), but this was the first Aqua Terra to be rated as such.
Grand Seiko Sport Spring Drive GMT SBGE255
The Spring Drive movement from Seiko – a mechanical quartz hybrid – took decades of investment and research to come up with. It is a fascinating movement that brings the accuracy of quartz to the art of mechanical watchmaking. This is not the article to get into a deep dive about what makes the movement so impressive – I recommend reading this article about the development of the movement; it will help you understand why that sweeping hand on a Spring Drive looks so dang cool.
Breguet Tradition 7027BB
To appreciate new technology sometimes we must have a look into the past. The man who gave the world so many solutions to watchmaking problems was one Abraham Louis Breguet. The Breguet tradition moves the dial aside to show a movement based on the Souscription watches Breguet made between 1798-1805. These watches included A.L. Breguet’s own inventions of the Breguet over coil, parachute shock protection, and improvements to the Swiss lever. If you care to hear more, check out this video.
For more Pre-Owned watches check out the HODINKEE Shop. This week we are also highlighting Top Technology products.