Article By: Logan Hannen

What is up, watchfam?! Today, we’re going to take a look at one of the most intriguing chronograph movements on the market – the meca-quartz.

To properly understand this fascinating watch movement, we must first understand who it was that originated this technology and packaged it in such a way that it became affordable for the average Joe just trying to get an interesting chronograph with the same tactile sensation as a mechanical one, but without the price tag. Can you guess who it was? Plot twist time – it was Seiko, with their V63, 67, and 83 calibers.

Seiko VK63 Movement
Source: BackerClub

These calibers were definitely revolutionary as affordable options, but they were not the originals by any means. That honor goes to two Swiss manufacturers struggling at the height of the quartz crisis: Frédéric Piguet and Jaeger-LeCoultre. These two brands sought to add some value to the world of Swiss watchmaking while keeping up with quartz technology at the same time. Their major point of failure, of course, is the fact that they limited this technology to luxury watches, and didn’t alter their pricing scheme in any way, making these pieces equally as unattainable for most people as their standard mechanicals. Enter Seiko, like we mentioned above, and the rest is history.

Breitling cal. 69 Meca-Quartz Movement
Source: Worn & Wound

So how does it work? In short, the movement is a hybrid of a quartz and mechanical movement, as the name would suggest. A standard quartz crystal-based movement keeps track of the standard timekeeping, and on top of that is mounted the mechanical components necessary for a chronograph to function. The end result is a chronograph that functions exactly as a mechanical would, including snapping back to zero upon the reset and sweeping smoothly rather than ticking, but without the immense hassle of winding and dealing with power reserve.

All that being said, the major downside with these pieces is that they require a battery to function at all, as the mechanical portion of the movement is still reliant on the electronic operation of the quartz caliber in order to engage. But really, that’s the biggest downside. Still, a lot of geeks consider meca-quartz movements the horological equivalent of the Mazda Miata – a car that thinks it’s a Porsche 911, but didn’t quite do all the work to get there. I’d argue tooth and nail, though, that these movements have an integrity all their own and offer a truly unique opportunity not just for consumers, but for brands to experiment as well. Plus, there are just few things more satisfying than that tactile click of a mechanical chronograph, and that alone is enough to convince me that a meca-quartz timepiece is a super accessible way to keep it classy, watchfam.