Top positive review
9 people found this helpful
Great watch despite a few niggles
on 5 July 2013
I'm giving this five stars as its a great watch, but I'd have preferred to give 4.5.
I ordered one and when it arrived I started working my way through the instruction manual. However as I practised with the slide rule bezel it became stiff and felt like there was some kind of grit underneath. It was making a grinding noise as well. This is not what I paid for, so I returned it.
When the replacement arrived I checked the slide rule bezel to see if it had the same problem. Sure enough, half a dozen twists and it was grinding away. Having this happen with two watches in a row suggests a quality control problem, so rather than return it immediately I did a bit of Googling. I couldn't find anything about new units, but with other Citizen watches with stiff rotating bezels the two things to try seemed to be warm soapy water and a length of thread pulled around under the bezel to clean underneath it. I did both of these, and about a meter of button thread and a couple of rinses later I had the bezel rotating easily again, and its been no trouble since (I've had it about a week now). Disclaimer: this worked for me, but it is not in the instructions and might invalidate your warranty if anything goes wrong. If you try this then make very sure that the crown wheel is pushed fully in, as the watch is not waterproof when it is pulled out. UPDATE: its been perfectly fine for a few months now.
Apart from that problem the build quality is good. Everything feels smooth and precise.
The rest of the watch is complicated, and you need good eyesight to make the most of it. There is a 24 hour UTC dial, which is useful if you are in a profession like aviation or computers where UTC is frequently used. The top right dial (the one always covered by the minute hand in the product shots) is actually a 24 hour version of the main hour hand, so you can see whether your local time is AM or PM. Personally I'd have preferred a bigger digital display instead. The remaining two dials are functional indicators rather than telling the time.
The crown wheel (the one on the right you pull out and turn) has two stops. The first one is for setting the mode in the bottom dial, and the second one is used in some modes to adjust things. The various combinations of buttons and crown wheel are complicated, and its worth working through the instructions a few times until you have it memorized. Watching all the various hands do their things is cool. I figure it must have 4 different electric motors (or maybe its one motor and a bunch of clutches). All the hands are under software control and always say exactly what the software wants them to. The main second and minute hands are obviously done by the same motor because the second hand spins rapidly around when the minute hand is being moved, but the hour hand has its own motor and if you watch carefully you can see it move at the start of every other minute.
Stuff I really like about this watch:
* Radio control means I don't have to set it. It checks the time three times each night, and you can check whether it received the time the following day by pressing one of the buttons. It works when in range of transmitters in Germany (meaning most of Western and Central Europe), USA and Japan. I live in on the south coast of the UK and reception is fine here. Outside those areas you can set the time manually. It also knows about DST in many countries. If you are in a country it doesn't know then you can switch that manually as well.
* Solar power means no more batteries, which is nice. More importantly it means that I don't need to worry about finding a jeweller who can guarantee the water proofing, and I don't need to worry about shortening the battery life when I use power-hungry features. I haven't made a point of charging it, but the power indicator has stayed in zone 3 (out of 4) apart from a brief excursion into zone 2 when I was learning the controls and hence sending the hands spinning around a lot. UPDATE: the power indicator now stays firmly on full unless I deliberately waste power by keeping the light on.
* The slide rule bezel is good for multiplication and division to within 1%, and there is an inner scale of hours and minutes to help with questions like "How far will you travel at 47 miles per hour in 1 hour and 25 minutes?" (Answer: about 66.5). Also useful for price comparison when abroad: set the rate and you can convert prices in both directions at a glance.
* Its about two thirds the weight of my old watch.
* The luminous hands remain visible throughout the night, unlike my old watch where they faded after a couple of hours.
* The previously mentioned tale of having to clean under the slide rule bezel.
* The lens is mineral glass instead of sapphire, so at some point its going to get scratched. I gather you can opt for a sapphire replacement if you have it repaired, at extra cost. I would have expected this to at least be an option, and having had a sapphire lens on a previous watch I would have chosen it. UPDATE: Its been a few months now, and the glass is still unblemished: maybe they are using Gorilla Glass.
* Likewise, the slide rule scales are painted on rather than etched, so I imagine they are going to wear off in time. UPDATE: the paint on a couple of numbers on the outer bezel have been damaged. The outer bezel is actually etched, so with care and a magnifying glass you can repaint the numbers by blobbing enamel paint on and then wiping off the excess.
* The date on the right hand digital display (shown in "CAL" mode) is the date for the second time zone rather than the one shown by the watch hands. I can sort of see the logic here: the right hand display shows the time and date for the second time zone, and it would be confusing if it showed the time for the second zone and the date for the first. But its also potentially confusing if you are in a foreign country and see the date for your home. This really ought to be a configurable option.
* You change mode by pulling the crown wheel out one notch and turning it. This is not easy to do with the watch on your wrist, so using the stopwatch or timer functions can mean taking it off unless you have strong fingers or good fingernails.
* Its not waterproof when the crown wheel is pulled out. I won't swim or shower with it in case I forget this fact (I'm rather absent minded).
* The alarms are too quiet to wake you up or to be heard anywhere with much ambient noise. I can see that putting a decently loud sounder in a watch is not going to be easy so I didn't expect anything different. But don't buy this as an alarm clock.
Overall: this is a great watch with lots of features. Everything is perfectly usable despite the niggles above. Buy it for its features, but only if you have good close vision.