Robustness in development allows for the accumulation of genetically based variation in expression. However, this variation is usually examined in response to large perturbations, and examination of this variation has been limited to being spatial, or quantitative, but because of technical restrictions not both. Here we bridge these gaps by investigating replicated quantitative spatial gene expression using rigorous statistical models, in different genotypes, sexes, and species (Drosophila melanogaster and D. simulans). Using this type of quantitative approach with molecular developmental data allows for comparison among conditions, such as different genetic backgrounds. We apply this approach to the morphogenetic furrow, a wave of differentiation that patterns the developing eye disc. Within the morphogenetic furrow, we focus on four genes, hairy, atonal, hedgehog, and Delta. Hybridization chain reaction quantitatively measures spatial gene expression, co-staining for all four genes simultaneously. We find considerable variation in the spatial expression pattern of these genes in the eye between species, genotypes, and sexes. We also find that there has been evolution of the regulatory relationship between these genes, and that their spatial interrelationships have evolved between species. This variation has no phenotypic effect, and could be buffered by network thresholds or compensation from other genes. Both of these mechanisms could potentially be contributing to long term developmental systems drift.