Q: I purchased an Orient watch, as per your suggestion. After a week, it is off by a bit less than a minute when compared to my cellphone. Does it need to be fixed?
A: It's a mechanical watch, and it's normal for them to drift a bit. Even the best Swiss mechanical watches are typically rated to -4/+6 seconds per day. Most mechanical watch owners reset their watches every week or so. It's a trade-off for the battery-free operation and uniqueness of a mechanical watch.
If it's accuracy you're after, I recently encountered something new that represents an interesting crossover of American history, horology and technology.
Decades ago, watches were mechanical and would gain or lose up to 30 seconds per day. That all changed in 1960 when Bulova introduced Accutron. The battery-powered Accutron used a vibrating tuning fork and was accurate to within 2 seconds a day, unheard of at the time. The watches were considered such a shining example of American technology that they became the official Presidential Gifts of State given to foreign dignitaries.
Then quartz watches and their jumping second hands came along. They were accurate to around 15 seconds per month, while being less expensive to produce, as well. That brought about the end of the Accutron watch series, which later became a name brand for, of all things, mechanical watches.
Though Bulova is now owned by Citizen Watch of Japan, it still is considered an American brand and operates independently, with decisions made out of its New York headquarters. In 2010, Bulova introduced the "Precisionist" movement (the movement being the guts of the watch), which is an enhanced quartz technology using a three-pronged tuning fork.
Its accuracy is far superior to a typical quartz watch. It's accurate to 10 seconds or less per year, without radio syncing to a time server (like a cellphone clock). Although it is quartz, it has a smooth-sweeping second hand like a high-end mechanical watch or electric wall clock.
The Precisionist movement is a bit on the thick side, so in 2014 Bulova introduced the slimmer Accutron II movement, allowing it to be used in a wider variety of watches. The Accutron II is accurate to about 15 seconds per year and is available in a wide variety of styles, from sporty to dress.
I bought an Accutron II Snorkel because of the excellent salesmanship of a jewelry store sales associate. I went in to buy a 1970s look, retro-styled Hamilton. He pointed me toward the similarly retro-styled Snorkel, which cost much less and I liked better aesthetically, anyway. The advanced technology, fine workmanship, smooth second hand and extreme accuracy sealed the deal for me.
The accuracy is so good, it is scary. I synced my Accutron II to my cellphone, and the exact moment my second hand hits the 12 o'clock position, the time on my cellphone changes. This accuracy has held up since I bought it months ago, and though my other quartz watches have drifted a bit, my Accutron II is right on the money. I love it.
Accutron II watches start at $450 and frequently can be purchased at a significant discount. Not all Bulovas are Accutron II. It will say "Accutron II" on the dial.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.