Top Five

The following lists represent my top five favourite watches, currently in my collection, and my top five 'most wanted' watches, together with short explanations of each. My Seiko Solar and my Grosvenor pocket watch are special exemptions from this reckoning, as they are priceless to me irrespective of their relative merits.

  Top Five Current Collection   Top Five 'Most Wanted'
1 Omega prototype 1 Junghans Megaquartz
  The rarest 4 MHz watch of all (only two made), this watch is also very unassuming and suits my style very nicely. Having an independently adjustable hour hand and a rate trimmer, this would be a good HAQ even by today's standards.   Probably even rarer than the Crystron 4 Mega. I have seen only one of these on the webs (on the High Accuracy forum of WUS, of course), and although I don't know enough about it to hold it up as my No. 1 most wanted, it is nevertheless an undeniable 'top two', being one of only 4 variants of 4 MHz watch ever made.
2 Citizen Crystron 4 Mega 2 Omega Marine Chronometer
  Formerly one of my 'grail' watches, the example I managed to pick up is currently keeping fantastic time but it does need a bit of work. The case could do with a little tidying-up and the bracelet would benefit from a good clean. The battery hatch also needs a new rubber ring and the crystal should be replaced. I'll get around to it when time and funds permit.   These are not so rare, but their current price point has precluded their entry from my collection up to this point. I have a lot of respect for Omega as a brand that is pioneering in its horological developments, and their 2.4 MHz Marine Chronometer broke new ground for quartz watches. A 'must have' in any HAQ collection. (a rarer (and therefore, arguably, more 'special') choice would be the Audemars Piguet watch that used the same calibre)
3 Casio SP-400 (No. 2) 3 Rolex Oysterquartz
  Even though this watch isn't likely to get much wrist time due to its rarity and NOS condition, it has nevertheless earned a spot in my top five. In style, it is very much like the first ever watch I owned as a child. Yes, I was a child of the 80s. Unassuming. Subtle. This watch has been described as "the ultimate stealth HAQ". It is also one of only three HAQs ever to haven been made in digital-only form. And it has a rate adjuster!   In some ways it is sad to note that my Swatch Jelly Fish Chronometer passed the same COSC test as the Rolex Oysterquartz. By the mid-80s, COSC quartz certification didn't really mean much. And yet the Rolex Oysterquartz stands out for a number of reasons. It was the first watch to combine both a rate trimmer and thermocompensation. It was also an entirely home-grown effort from Rolex and befits every positive trait that has ever caused me to hold this brand in high regard. Another 'must have' for the serious HAQ collector.
4 Citizen Exceed E510 4 Omega Electroquartz
  This is almost my perfect watch. 10 SPY. Solar powered. Perpetual calendar. Independently adjustable hour hand. A style and design that suits me very nicely. When my year-long timing experiment with the SBGV009 and the AQ1000-58B comes to an end, this watch will see a LOT more wrist time! So, if I love this watch so much, why is it only in fourth position? Quite simply it cannot be adjusted for rate. Or, rather, it can, but only by being sent back to Citizen. It's Citizen's Achilles heel. Their one weak point in a line-up of otherwise fantastic watches.   Omega again. This time with the Beta 21. Plenty of other companies were involved in the creation of this movement (and if you find one in a Rolex then you have found a VERY expensive watch, indeed), but Omega were the first to market and the Electroquartz remains, today, high on any quartz collector's list. They are also surprisingly affordable, compared to other brands' Beta 21 offerings. This is also a great watch to get for an example of pre-32 kHz, pre-dead beat technology. People often associate the dead beat tick with quartz, but this remarkable early movement had possibly the smoothest gliding second hand in the days before Spring Drive.
5 Ed1963 Homage 5 Seiko 35SQ
  The fifth watch was always going to be a tricky decision. I surprised myself when I chose a mechanical watch but truth be told, this watch is very useful in my work. I find the dial layout so clear and simple that I end up using the chronograph quite a lot. I had a chronograph on my DS-2, but the dial was so convoluted that I almost never used it. I have always known that it would be useful to time events in my work, but have found digital watches don't do this very well as I can't see the time whilst the stopwatch is running. The black Ed1963 gets wrist time when I'm wearing black leather (belt and shoes) and the other gets wrist time when I'm wearing brown leather. Neither keeps very good time (compared to a quartz watch) and neither can be hacked, but if I hold the crown in a particular way then I can induce the second hand to stop and in that way I can set the time each morning and be confident of its being more-or-less right all through the day.   The Seiko 35SQ Quartz-Astron was the first ever quartz wristwatch to go on sale. The version that was sold on 25th December, 1969, had an 8 kHz oscillator and it has been said that this was little more than a run of prototypes that had been hurried into the shops in order to pip the Swiss to the post. A month later, an updated version with a 16 kHz oscillator entered general production (still several months before the June 1970 release of the first Swiss quartz watch). The original, 8 kHz version would be a very exciting watch to own.

And then there are a few watches that nearly made the grade and that possibly deserve a mention. Why, for instance, did I include the Citizen Exceed E510 but not the AQ1000-58B? After all, the latter has almost the same spec. but is rated to 5 SPY, rather than 10. So, isn't it a 'better' watch? Here are the best of the rest:

Grand Seiko SBGV009

With its 60s retro styling, this GS has longer lugs, less writing on the dial and a slightly lighter-weight, slimmer font. It looks quite unlike all the post-80s Grand Seikos and it sat high up in my top five for a long time as I wore it nearly every day for a year. This is a beautiful watch and should have been a real 'keeper'. It is unfortunate that I had to sell this watch, but my collection is moving in a slimmer, easier-to-manage direction and the GS brought in good money.

Citizen Exceed 4 Mega

My 4 MHz watches are set to form the nexus of my new, slimmed-down collection and this rather rare Exceed represents the pinnacle of Citizen's 4 Mega development. Comapred to all my other 4 MHz watches, the Exceed is super-thin. In fact, at just 5 mm, it's pretty darned thin for a quartz watch in general. It was expertly cleaned and serviced by a very generous expert in vintage quartz watches, and is currently (May, 2016) ticking along at a steady 5.5 SPY. It doesn't quite make my top five, however, in part because it isn't really a style that I would much enjoy wearing and also because it is simply less iconic than the Crystron 4 Mega that made the list.

Citizen AQ1000-58B

To be honest, the difference between 5 SPY and 10 SPY isn't great enough to outweigh my various disappointments with this watch. My very first disappointment was its looks. I bought it sight unseen, as it is a JDM watch and ordered over the internet. The on-line pictures seem ok. But I bought it at the same time as my GS SBGV009 and putting the Citizen next to probably the best-looking HAQ in my entire collection was a revelation. The Citizen just looks awful, by comparison (to my eyes, at least). The Exceed that made the cut looks a LOT better. So, it's just looks, then? Well, there's also the power reserve indicator and the second hand alignment to consider. The Citizen has a two-year power reserve. The power reserve indicator simply hasn't moved since I bought this watch. You could keep it in a dark box for a month and the indicator wouldn't budge. Plus, of course, the movement also already has a two-second tick EOL indicator and a power-saving mode. The power reserve indicator is useless and makes for an unnecessarily cluttered dial. The newer variant of the A010 movement (the A060 series) has done away with the power reserve indicator, and if I ever buy another top-of-the-range Citizen, then this is the movement I'll go for. But, speaking of 'top-of-the-range', I cannot avoid thinking about the second hand alignment. Even with its much-touted device for ensuring the second hand always alings perfectly with the markers, the Citizen Service Centre looked carefully at my AQ1000-58B (with its second hand off by about an eighth of a second from 9 to 12) and told me that it was within Citizen's spec..

Longines Conquest VHP (Perpetual Calendar)

Here's another watch that could so easily have been included in the top five. What's not to love? 200m water resistance. Perpetual calendar. 10 SPY and a rate trimmer. It sounds almost perfect. But, again, there are defects. The bracelet on the watch that I acquired is missing a couple of links (people who 'lose' the links of the watch they're selling REALLY ought to mention the fact in their advertisement), and as a consequence it's rather a snug fit. A trip to a Longines Boutique might help to remedy the missing links problem, but it is only one of the detracting factors. Another is the overall styling. It just doesn't rock my world. That's part of the reason I haven't made a trip to a Longines Boutique, yet: I'm not sure I'd ever really wear this watch even if I could get an extra link put in. The lume on the dial has faded away to nothing. I wouldn't trust the water resistance rating any more. And to adjust the rate you need a fair bit of skill and know-how. It's a good, accurate watch, but it just ticks enough 'negative' boxes to not be included in the top five.

Bulova Precisionist

Another one that I thought carefully about. It is undoubtedly a much-discussed watch. With Citizen tech. underneath and unique high frequency, tri-pronged resonator, this watch is certainly special. It also, of course, has that 16-tick-per-second hand and a stated SPY of 10. And yet... test results from HAQ collectors suggest that, as with other high frequency-based watches, the Precisionist's accuracy doesn't long live up to its hype. Then there's the styling and the statement in the user manual that the battery should guarantee performance (whatever that means) for about one year. Neither of which fills me with joy.

Seiko SLT019P1

There are so many things I love about this watch. It is let down only by its unadjustable, HF movement and by the rather cluttered dial. Its looks are a bit 'challenging' for some, and it certainly doesn't fit with my usual aesthetic, but there is something about this watch that makes me really enjoy wearing it. I admit, though, that I tend to wear it only for the GMT hand and, when I don't find it useful to know the time in another country, this watch doesn't see any wrist time. It has its place and is a watch I like and I wear, but it doesn't make the 'top five' cut.

WUS Tourbillon

A surprisingly lovely watch to wear and to look at. I hadn't had particularly high hopes for this watch. I had rather expected to just add it to the collection, tick off the box, and never see it again. But I cannot help but admit that I like it. I like wearing it. There, I said it. What I don't like, of course, is its 40 hour power reserve and its lack of accuracy. It would also be a real pickle to adjust, as the regulator is situated on the tourbillon part, under the crystal. A job for a real professional, when the time comes. It warrants an honorable mention simply because I enjoy it so much, but it falls fairly far from being included in the top five.

Certina DS-2 Chronograph

This watch incorporates one of ETA's latest offerings and is honestly not bad at all. My only quartz analogue chronograph, this watch also represents a shift towards making HAQ available to the proletariat. The sacrifices, however, are many. The movement cannot be adjusted by the user and doesn't feature a perpetual calendar. On top of that, the design and layout of the dial mean that the second hand is obscured as it approaches 12, making it awkward to time. I like the DS-2, a lot, but I don't see myself wearing it very often and its demerits bug me enough to knock it out of the top five.

Citizen CB0011-77E

Finally, I gave serious consideration to this Citizen RC watch. It isn't a HAQ (and, in fact, performs rather poorly by quartz standards), but it has several features that I love. Its large dial is easy to read despite incorporating a fair bit of extra information about time zones and settings and such. If you need to hack the watch, the second hand automatically returns to 12. It can switch to a new time zone at the push of a button. The hour hand can be set independently. It is solar-powered. It has a perpetual calendar. It can update the time for DST. All these things are positive points, and I am not even considering its ability to sync to UST via radio signal. As a watch, though, this RC offering from Citizen fails. As a time-keeper, it just isn't up to scratch. A 6-band, rather than 5-band RC receiver might have helped promote its status in my mind, but ultimately it cannot be relied upon to tell the correct time, even if has successfully sync'd the night before. That makes it a poor watch.

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