Complete Guide: Japanese Quartz Watch Movements (2023) (2024)

Last updated on April 3rd, 2023

Audemars Piguet Watches

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History of the Japanese Quartz Movement

Japanese quartz movements can be traced back to the 1960s and 70s when Japanese watchmakers were going toe to toe with the Swiss to see who can bring the best quartz movement to the watchmaking world first.

Ultimately, the Japanese prevailed with Seiko’s first quartz watch, the Seiko Astron which was launched on Christmas day, 1969. This triggered thequartz crisisthat you might’ve heard of, which crippled the Swiss watch industry and forced them to pivot to a higher-end clientele.

Since then, the Japanese have been global leaders in affordable watches, especially their quartz watches which they spend a lot of time and effort perfecting. Nowadays, Swiss quartz watches have caught up, and are still rivaling their Japanese counterparts.

Best Japanese Quartz Movement Brands

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Seiko is almost expected on this list, as they were the original pioneer of Japanese quartz movements. They changed the world with their original Astron watch and provided the world with timekeeping accuracy that could beat mechanical movements a hundred folds.

The Seiko Caliber 35SQ was at that time, the world’s most accurate watch, quite literally a hundred times more accurate that any mechanical timepieces at the time,according to Seiko.

Since then, Seiko has propelled itself astheJapanese watchmaker, even when you take its mechanical and quartz watches into account. The Astron, albeit the updated model, is still available to be bought in the 21st century, on top of the hundreds of other iconic Seiko watches.


Citizen is arguably second only to Seiko in the Japanese watchmaking world. Though Seiko made a name for themselves in the 70s, Citizen’s quartz movements are revolutionary. Right off the bat, I can name a couple of iconic Citizen movements that you might or might not have heard of, which are:

  • Citizen Eco-Drive: Arguably one of Citizen’s best quartz movements, powered mainly by light via solar cells hidden beneath and around the dial, as well as heat radiating out of one’s wrist and surroundings.
  • The accuracy was on point too, with it being roughly +/- 5 seconds per year (according to Citizen themselves)! The Eco-Drive is also incredibly efficient as it can run for over6 monthseven with a lack of light.
  • Bulova Ultra-High Frequency Quartz: If you haven’t known already, the American watchmaker Bulova, is owned by Citizen since 2008. Back in 2010, Citizen developed a quartz movement that beat at a very high rate, mimicking mechanical watches, but smoother. This was huge, as many people disliked quartz watches because of the one-tick-per-second beat rate. If you remove that from the equation, you’d get the best of both worlds of quartz and mechanical movements!


Casio’s movements need no introduction. From the first Casiotron to the iconic F91-W, Casio watches and movements are second-to-none in the digital quartz industry. Casio watches, including the G-Shock, come with many features such as built-in backlight, alarm functions, stopwatches, etc.

Many of the modern Casio movements come with GPS technology and smartphone linking. Casio watches are the ultimate beater watches, as they are often affordable, reliable, and built to last!

Types of Japanese Quartz Watch Movements

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Standard Quartz Movements

The standard quartz movement is a simple quartz movement that utilizes a battery, a quartz crystal, and an electronic circuit to regulate the time. The standard quartz movement will have the one second per tick of the second’s hand and rarely come with complications other than a day and date function.

Although most quartz movements work similarly, there is a difference between good-quality Swiss or Japanese quartz movements and low-quality ones made in developing countries by many OEM firms.

Kinetic Quartz Movements

Kinetic quartz movements work similarly to automatic movements, whereby the motion of your wrist gives power to your watch’s battery. The concept is very similar to wind turbines, as they use propelling rotors to create kinetic energy which will be converted to electrical energy, cool right?

This gives the added benefit of having the reliability of automatic watches and the accuracy of quartz watches, which will come in handy in certain situations.

Solar-Powered Quartz Movements

Solar-powered quartz movements are exactly what they sound like, quartz movements that are powered either fully or partially using light. Unlike the kinetic quartz movements mentioned earlier, you can charge the solar-powered quartz movement without wearing the watch.

Just leaving it under sunlight, or even just under dim lighting (in the case of the Citizen Eco-Drive) will be good enough to have the watch charged!

Quartz Chronograph Movements

The most popular of the quartz complication movements is thequartz chronograph. Unlike a traditional mechanical chronograph movement, there aren’t as many moving parts, which means less maintenance and it allows you to time things even more accurately!

Quartz chronographs are usually more accurate than their mechanical counterparts, and they do not have to deal with jamming that plagued some mechanical chronograph movements.

Quartz Complications

Even in quartz movements, you’ll find very intricate complications that allow you to enjoy the accuracy of quartz watches, as well as complications that were traditionally on watches with mechanical movements.

To put it in simple terms, a complication is any feature or function of a watch that doesn’t include telling the time. Technically, a date window can be considered a complication!

There are quartz complications fromMiyota (Citizen)that range from moon phases, different variations of chronographs, small seconds, and dual timers. Amazingly, the Japanese can provide so many types of complications for such as affordable prices.

Digital Quartz Movements

Digital quartz movements, such as the ones found in most Casio watches, work similarly to standard quartz movements but it displays the time on a screen as opposed to a dial. Digital quartz movements typically have a lot of complications built in because they are so versatile, such as alarms, stopwatches, and backlighting.

While having many complications and features, the accuracy of digital quartz movements in Casios and G-Shocks ranges from 15 to 30 seconds per month.

GPS Quartz Movements

GPS quartz movements use GPS technology that allows satellites to pinpoint the location of the watch in a given area. Some of these GPS quartz movements come with built-in distress features that will send a signal for search and rescue purposes, in the case of theBreitling Emergency.

However, do take note that many Japanese GPS quartz movements such as theSeiko Caliber 8B43only work in Japan.

Spring Drive Movements

Spring drive movements are developed by Seiko which utilizes a barrel and mainspring to store energy. This is similar to many mechanical movements but instead of having a balance wheel and escapement to transfer the energy to the movement, Seiko uses a rotor they call a “glide wheel” that is powered by the mainspring.

Rotating at 8 times per second gives the second hand 28,800 vibrations per hour, which is the typical beat rate of a higher-end mechanical watch. This coupled with its unmatched accuracy of 1 second per day makes it the perfect movement that blends quartz and mechanical movements into one.

What Makes Japanese Quartz Movements So Good?

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Japanese quartz movements are great because they’re world-renowned for their precision, reliability, and affordability, thanks in part to the efficient and highly efficient manufacturing process that Japanese watchmakers tend to use.

Japanese manufacturers like Seiko spent more than4.2 billion yen (in 2018; the equivalent of almost $32 million)in research and development of their watches, which is more than 7% of their spending that year!

Japanese culture values craftsmanship, which translates well into the products they export, making them the third strongest economy in the world. They’ve actually got a word for it called “Monozukuri“, which emphasizes the importance of attention to detail and the constant striving for perfection.

How Much Does It Cost To Service Japanese Quartz Movements?

The servicing for most Japanese quartz watch movements ranges from$50 to $600, depending on the complexity of the movement, brand, complications, and whether or not you are bringing your watch to an authorized service center.

Most budget-friendly quartz movements such as the Citizen Eco-Drive and the Seiko Quartz Calibre v147 found in many watches will generally range between the $50 to $100 mark, whereas high-end quartz movements such as the Grand Seiko Spring Drive will cost you upwards of $500 for a full service.

Should You Buy a Watch with a Japanese Quartz Movement?

If you’re looking for a quartz watch, I would highly suggest buying a Japanese one because of the reliability and affordability that you can enjoy if you buy one. With technology such as GPS tracking, complex complications, and unmatched accuracy, it’s hard to ignore Japanese quartz movements, especially at their price points.

Ultimately, it would depend on you and your preferences. Many people will prefer the branding and prestige of watches with Swiss movements, rather than the practicality of any Japanese movements.

However, if you don’t mind the whole branding and prestige thing, a Japanese quartz watch might be the tool watch that you’ve been looking for, that could last you a lifetime.

Best Japanese Quartz Movements and Watches

Citizen Eco-Drive

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Although Seiko was considered by most to be the pioneer of the quartz movements, Citizen took it and brought it to the next level. As far as I can tell, Citizen’s iconic Eco-Drive movement is the best on the market right now, for its price point.

With features such as solar charging, as well as charging with the heat from the wearer’s wrist, it’s hard to not put Citizen first on this list.

The accuracy is also unmatched, at around 5 seconds per year! To put that in perspective, aCOSC-certifiedmovement is only accurate to about 5 seconds per day! Many regular quartz watches are accurate to 1 second a day, which is still 73 times less accurate than an Eco-Drive (365 seconds per year).

If you’re looking for a watch with an Eco-Drive movement, I would suggest the Citizen Promaster Eco-Drive. There are many variations of the Promaster Eco-Drive, but the one I’m recommending is the BN0200.

This watch is a little on the big side, but that’s not a bad thing if you’re looking for a tool watch with 200 meters of water resistance, that is made out of titanium!Check it out on Amazonif you’re interested!


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Miyota, the second entry of this list, is a subsidiary of Citizen and provides movements for a lot of other brands including Timex, Invicta, Bulova (another brand owned by Citizen), etc.

While the Eco-Drive is the best in the industry, Miyota focusesmore on varietyand provides a large variety of movements and complications. These movements might include various different types of chronographs, solar-powered movements, and moon phases.

One of the more iconic ones is in the Bulova Lunar Pilot (the other watch that went to the Moon apart from the Omega Speedmaster).

The quartz chronograph movement (262kHz) inside that watch has a smooth ticking motion of the chronograph hands and is accurate to 10 seconds per year. The best part is that you’re able to get this watch for a small fraction of the price of the Omega Speedmaster. If you’re interested in this amazing watch,check it out on Amazon!

Seiko Quartz Movements

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Seiko, despite its rich heritage, is in my opinion behind Citizen in terms of quartz technology (as of the writing of this article!). Though, that doesn’t mean that Seiko is a slouch in the category, as they offer many great quartz movements and features that come along with them.

Seiko movements also have similar movements to Citizen and Miyota such as having solar-powered watches and chronographs. However, Seiko has perfected the combination of the two, the iconic solar chronograph! In my opinion, I think this is the single greatest quartz movement that they’ve ever produced.

It is exactly what it sounds like, a solar-powered quartz chronograph! The watch that personifies the solar chronograph is the Seiko SSC813.

I’ve had some time with this watch at the Seiko boutique and I can say that the quality and craftsmanship are surreal. The chronograph works like how you’d expect it to and my only gripe with the watch is that it comes with a rattly bracelet.

If you’re looking for a Rolex Daytona homage, the Seiko SSC813 is it. This watch has no right to be this good for the price that Seiko is asking for it!Check it out on Amazonif you’re interested in this amazing piece.


All in all, Japanese quartz movements have a rich history and are not only iconic but also highly regarded in the watchmaking world. Brands like Citizen and Seiko continue to be the pioneers of this sector and I’m excited to see what other watches they’ll come up with in the future.

All in all, Japanese quartz movements have a rich history and are not only iconic but also highly regarded in the watchmaking world. Brands like Citizen and Seiko continue to be the pioneers of this sector and I’m excited to see what other watches they’ll come up with in the future.

Overall, I would highly recommend Japanese quartz watches because of their amazing quality for the price. Even servicing comes up to pennies on the dollar if you compared it with Swiss movements. To put it into perspective, my mom’s ladies’ Tag Heuer Aquaracer costs around $250 per service, it’s a big difference from Japanese movements which start from only $50.

If you’re still on the fence about Japanese quartz watches, feel free to take a look at my other article containing the best quartz watches. Also, if you want to learn more about quartz movements in general, feel free to read my article on how long a quartz watch batter last!


Complete Guide: Japanese Quartz Watch Movements (2023) (2024)
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