Most helpful positive review
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Good watch, looks awesome, works well if you understand the limitations
on March 17, 2014
I thought it was about time someone did a slightly better review than "awesome watch". I have the metric-scale Altichron (BN4026-09E) but other than metric rather than imperial (ie meters, not feet) it is identical.
First up, build is lovely, and although it is a big watch the titanium case helps make it not as heavy as it looks. The insides have a bit of weight to them so it isn't featherlight either. The rubber strap is extremely supple and it wears as comfortably as something this size could be expected to. Easy to strap on the outside of your windbreaker. The crystal is not sapphire. I haven't scratched mine yet but I have only had it a fortnight.
Now to the functions. The electronic compass works well. Press the orange button and the small orange dial will swing around and point north. It will keep pointing north for 30 seconds or so, and will move to point north as you change the watch's orientation. After a bit it shuts down, or you can press the orange button again to shut it down. The instructions, and the citizen website dedicated to the altichron, gives the procedure for adjusting the compass to take into account magnetic declination. The outer bezel, operated by the screw down crown at top right, gives the N, S, E and W bearings so you can use the compass in a rudimentary way. So far I have used it just for a quick orientation. The crown at bottom right adjusts the time.
The altimeter, which is the coolest feature, is also the most finicky. It operates based on air pressure, which it senses through the little hole at 9 o'clock. Air pressure is always changing and so to get any real, accurate use out of the altimeter feature you need to make yourself familiar with the calibration procedure, which the instruction book explains very clearly. It has an error margin, described in the instructions, but the error will be a lot greater if you don't regularly calibrate it against a known height. Simple example would be when you reach a point that you're sure of the altitude - somewhere on a topographic map, for example. Take a moment to set the watch to read that precise height. Then, the instructions tell you the average error that you can factor in as you gain or lose height from the calibration elevation, and you also need to allow for error caused by changing air pressure (eg if a storm is coming in).
All that means you cannot simply hit the yellow button and believe what you see on the dial, as the error can build up (or back down). To get accurate data out of it you need to calibrate it regularly at known heights, and more frequently during changing weather conditions.
Reading the data off the dial is easy enough once you work out what the various scales relate to.
Overall, I like this watch (which was a gift from my wife, purchased at a store in Hong Kong) and I have taken it out in the hills on a few occasions now to get the hang of it. Despite the complex dial, reading the actual time is easy and the white hands make it perfectly legible.
If you know what you are doing and are prepared to put in a little effort learning the calibration techniques and the limitations of the design then I think you will be well satisfied with the Altichron. If you're impatient or too lazy to study the procedures and get to know it, then you'll probably be disappointed in the accuracy of the readings. It won't be the watch's fault.
I would have given it 5 if it had a sapphire crystal.