Most helpful positive review
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Great Accuracy and Chronograph but Not for Everybody
on February 6, 2015
This is a very distinctive looking watch with the best quartz accuracy available and a uniquely precise chronograph function.
I've read lots of reviews of this watch, including a couple of professional reviews. The watch is not exactly main-stream and has features that turn some people on and some people off. Some vendors, especially on eBay, are shipping them without manuals. I'm going to include some instructions for use that may help you make a purchase decision as well as bail you out if you end up without a manual.
1. Crazy accurate (better than a second a month). The only thing better is radio control. Citizen's so-called "atomic time" for example takes advantage of special radio transmitters, and Seiko's Astron line uses GPS time reference. As consumer-grade, free-running (no external reference) clocks go, this watch currently has no peer. (Past, super-expensive, temperature-regulated watches have achieved better accuracy.0
2. Handsome, very masculine face (at least to my taste)
3. Nice combination of dressy and high-tech look
4. Unique chronograph functionality
5. An easy procedure for precisely setting time
6. Great conversation piece
1. Big by any standard; huge for a dress watch
2. Band is stiff and awkward to buckle
3. "Mineral" rather than sapphire crystal
If you wanted a quick summary, stop here. The rest of this review is a pretty deep dive. If you're on the verge of a purchase decision, you might want to read further.
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THIS WATCH
The color is not as pink as we typically expect with rose gold. It has more of a polished-copper hue. I like it but some reviewers don't, and their opinions are just as valid as mine.
The dial is very masculine looking. Some have said it's too cluttered. For me, it's a nice blend of dressy with high-tech. Some people hate the way the 12 and 6 are chopped off. That doesn't bother me in the least, but you should look closely at the pictures for yourself before you buy.
The hands and markers are not luminous. This watch will be invisible in the dark.
The watch is big -- maybe not for a teenage kid, but definitely the biggest would-be dress watch I've ever seen. The case diameter is 46mm at its narrowest. I measured the thickness, including crystal, at 13mm, which is slightly over half an inch. The crystal is described as "domed" but it's very close to flat. To me, the watch doesn't look a half-inch thick, but it does look and feel thick. The watch isn't crazy big, but it's close. Some people will like the size, but people looking for a classic dress watch probably won't. As for me, I'd like it better if it were a couple of millimeters smaller in both dimensions. For my taste, if it were any bigger, it would be freakish. As it is, I'll be kind and continue to call it "distinctive."
The crystal is "mineral" rather than sapphire, which is a cost-saving measure. Remember, glass is a mineral. The only good thing about "mineral" is that small scratches can be buffed out.
The band is a solid-black leather strap. The leather is thick and, as others have pointed out very stiff. The leather shows no natural grain on the outside, appearing to have been stamped with an alligator pattern. It could pass for faux leather if you didn't look at the lining, which is very nice. The buckle is attractive and perfectly matches the color of the case. As is typical of modern watch straps, this one has two loops: one fixed and one that slides. Unfortunately, the fixed loop is too close to the buckle, which makes it awkward to bend the stiff leather enough to push the tip through after the buckle is set. I will probably only use the movable loop. This is why others have complained that it is not easy to manage. It is probably not an option to replace this with a metal band because it would be too hard to match the color of the case. The strap is 23mm -- quite wide as it has to be to look right with such a large case. My guess is that some owners will be okay with this band and some will replace it. If you think you might sell it in the future, you might just want to replace the strap immediately and save the original for resale.
One reason this watch is so big is that it has a large lithium ion battery (CR2016). It is claimed to last 2 years. Typical quartz watches run on smaller alkaline or silver oxide cells. The reason this watch needs a large battery is the smooth sweep of the second hand, which is not efficient and very unusual for an electric watch. The smooth sweep does add to the cool factor. If you're not going to wear this watch all the time, a quick push of the button at 8 o'clock will put it in chrono mode, stop the sweep second hand, and conserve the battery.
The case says it's good to 50m. The back is not the screw-on type.
This watch is all about accuracy. If you check it once a month, you should be able to keep it within a second. It is not set up to support world time. If you have to change time zones, you have to pull the stem out two clicks and completely reset the watch. Maybe that's no big deal if you're sitting on a plane with nothing else to do. Note that this watch is quicker and easier to reset than any other I've seen as I explain later. Cell phones can be made to provide a good time reference for doing the resetting. The accuracy of the chronograph function is crazy good. I'll cover that next, but let me make one last point about accuracy. Even with temperature compensation, you can expect this watch to keep its best time if you wear it continuously (except in the shower). Being on your wrist will reduce the changes in temperature of the quartz mechanism.
The first Precisionists released were not chronographs. This is a second-generation Precisionist, and its chrono functionality is totally unique among consumer watches. The elapsed time is tracked on 4 separate mini dials plus the sweep second hand. One of the dials has two hands, so that there is a total of six hands to look at to determine elapsed time. The mini dial at 3 o'clock is hours. The mini dial at 9 o'clock is minutes. The sweep second hand is seconds. The mini dial at 12 o'clock has two hands: a short one for tenths and a long one for hundredths of a second. Yes, the long one spins 10 full revolutions a second! This is obviously for cool factor and grossly inefficient. No way you can look at that thing and tell what it's doing. Don't fret that it's going to run down its battery and wear itself out. It stops the wild spinning after 30 seconds. (Other common movements do this, but only with a tenths hand.) The dial at 6 o'clock is for thousandths. It is much more sensible in that it simply goes to the measured thousandth number when you click the stop button. That, of course, is what the two crazy spinners do too once you get past 30 seconds. People often like to make a distinction between precision and accuracy. It is possible to be very precisely INACCURATE. This watch is going to very precise AND accurate at measuring the time between your first button push and your second. But there's no way you can time a button push to within one hundredth of a second of accuracy. You can definitely do it to much better than one tenth, so the multiple hundredths measurement is potentially useful. But the thousandths is, I'm afraid, just for bragging rights. You'll have the precision, but not the accuracy.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE:
Switching in and out of chronograph mode:
Press the button at 8 o'clock firmly until it clicks to go in and out of chronograph mode.
Setting (this is very cool):
You set this watch like you would most modern day-date watches. Pull the crown out one click and set the date; pull the crown out all the way (2 clicks) and set the time. If you want to keep it set accurately to the second, first, take it out of chronograph mode. Pull the stem out two clicks, and the second hand will move to the 12 o'clock position. Using a time reference such as a special cell-phone app, look for the next upcoming exact minute and set the minute hand exactly for that. Press the crown in when the time reference hits 0 seconds. The way the second hand goes immediately to the top is a really nice feature and makes it much quicker and easier to do a precise setting. BTW, if you are changing the day at the end of the month, pulling the crown out one click will not disturb the timekeeping function, so you won't have to reset anything else.
Place the watch in chronograph mode using the 8 o'clock button. The hands should all go to their zero positions. (In case they don't, I'll tell you how to adjust them in the next section.) From this point on, the operation is like almost any other chronograph watch: The button at 2 o'clock is for start and pause; the button at 5 o'clock is for reset. YOU MUST PUSH THE BUTTONS FIRMLY UNTIL THEY CLICK. This need to push hard is different from any other chronograph that I've used.
I have run across one strange behavior with the chronograph mode - one that could cause some grief. If you don't push the buttons firmly, when you finally do, you may get some odd behavior. This could be a huge problem if you were, for example, about to time a heat in a track meet. You'd push the button and the watch wouldn't start timing. Instead the second hand would run all the way around the dial at 6X speed and then stop! I have not been able to reliably repeat this behavior, but if anyone knows what's going on, please let me know in the comments. To be sure it's going to start, you can take it out of, and back into, chronograph mode. The problem has never happened when I've done that.
Adjusting Hands' Zero Positions
When you receive your watch, everything will probably already be aligned. If, by accident you left the crown pulled out one click and then tried to operate the chronograph function, you could mess up some hand alignment. The good news is that its fixable. To check zero positions, put the watch in chronograph mode and push the (5 o'clock) reset button. All hands should point straight up except the thousandths hand at the bottom, which should point down and to the left at the .000 mark. When you get your watch, you'll probably find the hands in near perfect alignment. If hand alignment for the sweep second hand, the two top mini-dial hands, or the thousandths hands don't go where they're supposed to, read on. To adjust the hands' zero positions, FIRST TAKE THE WATCH OUT OF CHRONOGRAPH MODE. You should see the second hand sweeping smoothly without jumping.
Tenths and Hundredths Hands--
These hands can't be fine-tuned, but if they are way off, you can make coarse adjustments by pulling the crown out one click and pushing the 2 o'clock button. Hold the button down to move faster. If these hands are okay, I recommend that you leave them alone.
Sweep Second Hand
You can make this one perfect if you want. Pull the crown out two stops. Press the 2 o'clock button. The sweep second hand moves about a tenth of a second's worth for each push, and it only goes forward. (At first you may think the hand isn't moving at all.) Hold the button down for a couple of seconds and it will come back around. You can set the hand perfectly straight up this way.
This one can also be positioned perfectly, but it is less likely to need correcting. Pull the crown out two stops. Press the 5 o'clock button. The hand rotates counter-clockwise in small increments. It only rotates in one direction. Hold the button down and (counter-intuitively) it will swing over the top and come back around. You can position the thousandths hand very precisely this way.
Other than the cons I mentioned above (I'd like it smaller with a better strap and a sapphire crystal), I'd like to be able to change the hour the same as the date without otherwise disturbing timekeeping. Most modern electric watches do that now. It's the "only way to fly" if you have to change time zones frequently.
THE PRECISIONIST IN BULOVA'S GRAND SCHEME
You should skip this next piece unless you're interested in my musings on the history of electronic watches and the Precisionist's place in the evolution.
Bulova was founded in 1875 in the U.S., transitioning to Swiss manufacturing in the early 1900s. Anyone who can remember the mid 20th century remembers Bulova as by far the best-known brand of the era. Bulova was, and continues to be, extremely aggressive in their marketing. Lowes Corporation owned Bulova for almost 30 years leading up to Bulova's acquisition by Citizen of Japan in January, 2008, for $250 million. This was not a simple purchase of a brand name, nor a takeover of a failing company as had been the case when Bulova acquired Wittnauer from Swatch in 2001 for $11.6 million. Bulova had reeled off several successes leading up to the acquisition, having had sales of $205 million in 2006. Following the acquisition, Bulova never skipped a beat in their aggressive image building and marketing. The investment in ultra-precise time-keeping was the perfect direction for the company who revolutionized both electronic personal timekeeping and personal timekeeping precision with the original Accutron line of metal tuning-fork watches. Today's quartz watches actually use a 3mm quartz tuning fork that vibrates at 32.7 kHz. In 2010, two years after the acquisition by Citizen, Bulova unveiled a new "twist" on the quartz concept: a three-pronged fork with a torsional deformation mode that upped the ante to 262 kHz vibrational frequency. With the help of enhanced temperature compensation, the Bulova technology reduced the rate of time drift by a factor of 18, improving accuracy from 15 seconds a month to 10 seconds a year. The fact that this last move by Bulova came after the Citizen acquisition indicates that Citizen is not pulling Bulova's foot off the gas. The movement is, however, manufactured in Japan rather than Switzerland.
This new Precisionist technology, which is now flowing into the Accutron II line, does not compete with Citizen's firm beachhead in the radio-controlled watch field. (The Accutron II watches are squeezed into a smaller form factor and, for that reason, are not as supposed to be as accurate as the precisionists. They also cost more.) Today, if you want the most accurate, free-running, quartz watch, you buy Bulova Precisionist. If you want the most affordable radio controlled watch, you buy Casio. If you want better quality in a radio controlled watch (with Eco-drive thrown in), you buy Citizen (terrific watches by the way). If you want to spend significantly more, you can go with Citizen's arch Japanese rival, Seiko, which uses GPS time reference for periodic corrections (plus solar power) just as Citizen does with its radio control.
Casio makes a line of solar-powered, radio controlled watches. I've had two of the G-shock versions, which I bought for swimming in the ocean. The band came apart on one, and it was lost in the waves. The other started a malfunction with the charge meter after about a year, but it is otherwise still working. The free-running accuracy on the G-shocks that I've had is abysmal. If they don't get their radio control fix, they drift off really quickly.
GPS time is accurate to the sub-microsecond level, but periodic corrections will not yield accuracy significantly better than Citizen's radio control. GPS has the advantage of global reach, but doesn't work as well indoors. It does have the distinct advantage of automatic time zone setting. It's interesting that, just as Bulova is now using their old Accutron name on their new quartz watches, Seiko is using the Astron name on their new GPS watches. Seiko's Astron was the world's first production quartz watch, costing about as much as a new Toyota when it was introduced in 1969. Could it be that Citizen wanted to own their own piece of history by buying Bulova as they continued their competition with Seiko? After all, the Accutron was the first watch on the moon.
These days, anybody with $20,000 dollars can go in the watchmaking business. You can buy quartz movements in bulk for a song now. The cheapest are Chinese, next are Japanese, and next are Swiss. The Chinese ones work fine. You can have your own case design manufactured in China dirt cheap as well. This is why you'll find quartz watches on eBaY for under $10 including battery and free shipping from China. I assume that happens when one of these ventures fails and the stock is being dumped. In todays market, a watch maker needs something to set it apart from the herd. Invicta is making a killing selling nice looking watches for very reasonable prices (but the internet is rife with horror stories about their reliability and customer service). Bulova has seized on the accuracy thing. It does set them apart. There have been more accurate free-running quartz watches in the past, but they were obscenely expensive. Bulova has made every attempt to make these watches affordable. They have succeeded in making very special watches at a very reasonable price.
That's it. If I've left out something, please chime-in in the Comments section.