Why Does The Seconds Hand On My Quartz Watch Not Line Up With The Markers?

Alan T. from Singapore asks:

I recently acquired a year old used Luminox Navy Seals Colormark Blue. The minute hand moves a bit (half a minute) by itself depending on how I tilt the watch, and the second hand does not always align to the markers. I am not sure if this is a normal variant, or should I make a trip to the service centre as the watch is still covered with a warranty.

We used to wonder why even on high-end quartz watches many times the seconds hand did not stop precisely where it should on the markers. Well, a few years ago, we learned why. It has to do with how most quartz watches are assembled. When the minute hands are placed on the dial, it is often without being properly aligned to any specific "stop" in the movement. Meaning, there is often no relation to the alignment of the hand and the perfection position on the dial for it to line up properly with markers. Sometimes the hands are even placed manually. Once the hands are set, they cannot really be removed and realigned. So, in many watches, if your seconds hand lines up with the markers you are lucky.

Having said that, some very inexpensive quartz movement in some watches from brands like Casio seem to consistently line up perfectly. We suspect that is because they've designed the movement production process to ensure proper alignment. Many brands seem to think that no one "notices" misaligned hands, which is an unfortunate design. Your best bet is to either inspect quartz watches before you buy them, or ensure retailers have a no nonsense return policy. Another good option is to try and inform sales people in advance that you are picky about this so that they don't send out something that you'll return.

You also mention movement by the seconds hand when you move around the watch. That isn't normal, but I've seen it before. I would take that piece in for them to swap out the movement or tighten things up.

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  • frustin

    This issue affected my tag heuer kirium.  When I bought it I ensured that the one I chose had perfect alignment.  However, each time the battery ran out I’d have it serviced. The last service it had the watch came back with the second hand misaligned.  I was furious.

    The shop sent it to tag and they said that because of the age (10+ years), it happens.  Except it was fine before the service I argued.  The shop charged me half-price service but given the time that they had it, it left a bad taste in my mouth and i wont be buying from Tag again.

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  • Thomas Halvorsen

    It’s a shame that this issue affects so-called “high end” quartz watches in the likes of grand seiko.

  • TrevorXM

    The Seiko Tuna quartz hands line up. Not a surprise as it is the only quartz watch worth buying.