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May 23, 2012



I thought you were done with automatics. Why would you want to pretend that your divers have an inferior technology? Eco drive may not have the romance of an automatic, but is an incredible feat of technology, a virtual perpetual motion machine with the accuracy of a quartz.


Tom, you said it: the romance of an automatic is its appeal defying practicality and logic. I doubt I would buy one, but if I had the money, I'd like to have just one, an ETA 7750 on a watch I'd really like. But I have so many watches and I like to rotate them; I really don't want to baby an expensive automatic watch. I appreciate my Eco-Drives more and more.


A well-built, accurate, Swiss auto, can easily be an everyday, practical watch. Different than a quartz? Absolutely. But "Inferior technology"?

Jack Marshall

"Inferior technology." Well, maybe so, but that doesn't keep folk from spending big bucks on vacuum tube-powered stereos, vinyl LPs, Windows PCs, Harley-Davidsons, and Chevy Corvettes with push-rod engines. To some, there's no school like the old school.

Tom Costin

In part it was tongue in cheek and an example of the echo chamber of self assurance and affirmation that the internet can be.

As far as that goes, it's true as well. The eco drive is better at the functions of a time piece than most automatics. It keeps better time and is nearly indestructible, but has no soul. It is the Nissan GT-R of watch movements.

If you can afford a ferrari, you're probably not going to buy a GT-R because of the intangibles that come with a ferrari. They are the dynamic qualities that outweigh the static qualities that make the GT-R faster, more reliable, cheaper. The dynamic qualities don't make the ferrari better per se, just more desirable.


In my car-formative years (1985-1989 or so: the cars that were hot when you were fourteen will forever be your dream cars) the high-end debate was between the Porsche 959 and Ferrari F40. At the time I was all things German, so of course the Porsche was king in my eyes, winning out over an oddly undersized V8 with kit-car build (plastic windows, cramped cabin, Italianate driving position) and two-wheel drive. The 959 was a tour-de-force of technology, and the contemporary magazines described it as being a sort of sanitized speed, the car being better than you at moving quickly, but telling you in no uncertain terms that's what you needed.

I bought my first automatic watch ten years ago, an old Seiko (6bps) sitting in a pawnshop looking up at me forlornly, and it took the reins from a long line of battery-powered quartz watches with various features and functionality (my favorite being the one that carried me through college -- a Timex without a date but the Indiglo feature) until one day it just stopped dead, despite being worn daily. No matter; I was truly hooked and bought a more expensive Seiko (8bps, a hi-beat movement) which worked great for a few more years ... and then stopped dead. So I picked up an Eco-Drive, having dabbled with a bit of Kinetic and finding it lacking in endurance.

I haven't had any experience with the Swiss automatics besides showing off my 8bph Seiko to someone wearing an Omega, who handled my watch gingerly like something smelly before gladly handing it back to me, and I'll probably never get behind the wheel of a 959 or a F40 to see what works better for me. But as tool watches, it's hard to deny the Eco-Drive (and similar Casio Tough Solar) watches: they are reliable, robust, and hard to kill. I bought a couple of old Eco-Drives that had completely stopped, according to the sellers, and after an afternoon of sun, they were happily moving again. If you think of the watch as functional jewelry then there's two parts to that equation: function and decoration. If I want decoration I'd go with something like a Seiko LM Special or KS Vanac (nothing beats 70s disco analog watches!); Eco-Drive lets me retain some style and boost function to the point where I don't have to worry about it.

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