Even so, hidden here and there in the collector’s stashes were one or two exceptions to the rule.
One year after the Beta 21 was completed – Rolex’s first quartz powerhouse, the Rolex ref. 5100 was first released in 1970. Today these watches are becoming extremely popular, reaching between $15,000 and $125,000 at auctions.
Soon afterwards, Rolex debuted the OysterQuartz, one of the finest quartz movements of its era, which today remains one of the more affordable vintage Rolexes you can find, with prices starting somewhere around $3,000.
Patek Philippe Quartz
The premier Swiss watchmakers are perhaps best known for their super-complicated mechanical watches – and for maintaining their high investment values over the years.
It’s possibly a little harder to find a quartz Patek Philippe vintage – but when you do, it’s well worth it. The Nautilus ref. 3900 was made back in the 1980’s, using the same Beta 21 technology that Rolex employed.
At the Basel fair in 1970, Omega proudly displayed their 2.4 Mhz high frequency quartz watch, the Megaquartz Marine Chronometer, and it hit the retail shelves in 1974.Omega was the first to take up the quartz challenge for the Swiss watchmakers.
It was by far the most accurate wristwatch of its time, losing barely 1 second per month. It was around 10 times more accurate than the quartz watches of the day.
After a few years, however, its popularity started to decline, and eventually Omega felt there was little practical need for a watch with such high accuracy.
The line was discontinued in the late 1970s. Since it is such an important milestone in watchmaking, its value as a collectible vintage watch is steadily rising.
The whims of the vintage watch market are always interesting to follow. While there will always be a demand for the craftsmanship and elitism of mechanical watches, there is a place for these fine quartz watches too. The great thing about it, for new collectors in particular, is that it usually offers a cheaper way to start your watch collection, yet still get the benefit of the prestige of the name – Rolex, Omega, and Patek Phillippe.