on September 7, 2007
I bought this watch as I finally came to the realization that I needed a timepiece that did everything and required no upkeep. No battery changes are therefore required as the solar panel face is more than sufficient to keep the internal batteries charged in regular use (fully charged, the watch is rated to operate 6 months without sunlight and the watch easily stays fully charged even in regular office use - there is a charge indicator on the face).
The most important (and costly) feature of the watch is that it keeps perfect time. It permanently stays within one second of actual time as it has a radio receiver that automatically resets it to the exact time every day in the US through a radio broadcast from the US atomic clock. Europe and Japan have similar broadcasts from their atomic clocks and the watch can be set to receive from those broadcasts if you are in those areas. Note that most of Canada, Mexico and Eastern China are also covered by the aforementioned broadcasts but some areas at the outer rim of Europe are not. I would suggest that if you are in doubt about whether you are in range of atomic clock broadcasts that you look at the full instructions for the watch which can be found on the citizen site under "technical information" (it has maps showing coverage areas).
Given the additional expense for the atomic time reception feature, it would be pointless to buy this watch outside of those areas that can receive atomic clock broadcasts as one of the other Skyhawk watches would be a better choice. Without any radio reception, the watch is rated to no more than 15 seconds loss per month so should you travel outside of reception areas the watch will still keep excellent time.
Reception of atomic time broadcasts in the US has been very good, despite the fact I live towards the east coast and the time broadcast emanates from Colorado. Nine out of ten nights the watch updates and I have never found the watch to be more than half a second off from actual time after several months of use.
As this is a pilot's watch, one of the greatest features is that you can easily and quickly move between time zones (without having to reset the watch) and it would be useful for anyone who travels or is calling people in foreign countries (so you don't accidentally call them at 3 am). You can display one time on the hands and a different time zone on the LCD if you wish. Two dials also display UTC and 24 hour time.
Countdown timer, date, chronograph and two different alarms exist on the watch, using the LCD to work and set. A significant improvement over previous versions of the watch is a backlight on the LCD. The slide rule on the outside does permit rudimentary multiplication and division, as well as calculations relating to some airplane functions. The watch is waterproof down to 600 ft so you don't have to take it off while swimming or in the shower (note: this is not a diving watch and it really does not meet the requirements for diving).
All around this is an extremely useful watch if you need to know the exact time, may travel a lot and have some interest in the rest of the functions. It is a good looking, quality timepiece, very solidly made and I would highly recommend it, but you need to take into account some drawbacks stated below before a purchase.
A review would not be a review without stating any negative aspects of the watch so here they are. First of all it is big and somewhat heavy, being made totally out of stainless steel (no titanium version is available at the time of this review and it would be worth the extra price should one become available). Even by the standard of a diving watches (which are usually pretty big) this is a big watch. It's somewhat thick but really the diameter of the face is what might be considered large. On anyone with a slight frame, it may appear oversized and be uncomfortable. For those who are used to wearing all-metal diving watches it does not take long to adjust to the size and weight. For those preferring slim, elegant dress watches, this watch would be a bad choice.
The watch is also quite complicated (as it does so much) but it does come with excellent documentation and even an interactive setting instruction disk. Intitial setup takes some time, but once that is done you soon get used to using its features. If you are not the type to spend at least a little time learning how to make best use of the watch this may not be your timepiece.
One feature that I am surprised Citizen kept on this watch was the requirement you pull out the crown to set some things. This is somewhat annoying and I worry about the durability of constant use of the crown in that manner. Although the strap is very solidly made and quite comfortable, you can only adjust it by adding and removing links. Once you realize you can use a thumb tack to push out the link pins (in the direction of the arrows stamped on the reverse of each link), you can adjust it yourself but it's a fiddle (NOTE: the pins are split at one end (the NON-split end going back in first). Make sure you put them in the right way round, and back in through the side of the links they came out).
If you are looking for the cheapest price on this watch make sure you buy it from an authorized dealer (even some ebay stores are) as the warranty probably is not valid if you buy it from someone else.
Without a doubt, for those interested in this type of watch with the aforementioned functions and features, it's a fantastic watch. For those of slim build or not used to wearing the bulk of a large diving watch, this may not be a good choice.
on December 10, 2007
Just bought this watch and it is much better than I thought. It is larger than average (I have been a Casio G-Shock man most of my life), very solid, easy to read dial, although some of the lettering is smaller than I would like. The digital readout I like so much for UTC is somewhat smaller than I would like, but no strain is needed to read it. It also has a backlight, which is nice.
The atomic feature is also very nice for those who like absolute precision. It basically works this way:
The watch has a receiver in it that receives a signal from the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) transmitter in Ft. Collins, Colorado once a day, usually at night. It then synchs the watch with that time, which is the official U.S. time. It does this every day at the same time, or you can manually synch it yourself. Or you can set the time manually.
One note on synchronizing the time. The radio signal you receive is very low (60 hz), so it is very difficult to receive during the day. Sometimes during the day it will not even receive the signal, but in the middle of the night it will get the signal at maximum strength, even inside the house, and I live in Florida.
Citizen makes probably the highest quality watches for the money, and are always a leader in technology.
on December 4, 2007
UPDATE; 8-28-08, PRODUCT RECALL WITH SERIAL NUMBERS BEGINNING IN 7 !!!
I originally bought my Skyhawk from Kay Jewelers at my local mall and I recently got a letter from them advising me of a product recall for Skyhawk watch model# JY0000-53E with serial numbers beginning with seven. Apparently there is a software issue with the watch that causes the wrong date to display when the year 2010 is reached. Citizen claims that when the date 1 March 2010 is reached, it will display 29 Febraury 2010. Only the date is the error with the watch & no other functions will be affected. If your Skyhawk JY0000-53E has a serial number with a "dot" preceding the seven then your watch is unaffected. I have sent my watch back to Citizen via Kay Jewelers and I got my watch back within two weeks. So be advised if you have a Skyhawk JY0000-53E with a serial number that begins with a seven!
I've been looking at the Citizen Skyhawks for the past few months and I finally bought one. I have always been using cheap watches all of my life, but lately I bought a nice Citizen Echo-drive ladies watch for my wife and she insisted that I upgrade as well. The Skyhawk A-T model JY0000-53E is a third generation Skyhawk with a radio reception transmitter that broadcasts up to three signals a day to correct the atomic time automatically or you can simply correct the time via an on-demand button that will correct the time instantly.
One feature that I noticed that was lacking in previous Skyhawk models is the lack of the back-light for the LCD, but the new Skyhawk has an amber back-light for the LCD which appears to be a dim reddish-orange light. You can reference my photos above that shows the back light. In darkness the hands and number marks have a light illuminous glow. The watch is very heavy and it will take me some time to get use to it, but it is so attractive that I sometimes forget about the weight. I highly recommend that you try one on before buying. Actually, after a few days my wrist got accustomed to the weight of the watch.
Sometimes I almost regret buying the older titanium versions because of the lighter weight, but I really like this newer despite heavier version. One thing I heard about the titanium version that discouraged me from buying it is that when the titanium surface (which has a dull grey appearance) gets scratched, the scratch shows as a very, shiny, metallic streak that is very visible and probably permanent. When you scratch a stainless bracelet, a jeweler shop can re-polish it.
I agree with the other reviewer about the over-use of the crown button to perform most of the settings. I just hope that crown button holds up. This is a nice, newer version of the Skyhawk watch line that is very nice to have if you can tolerate the weight.
on March 21, 2008
First of all, let me say that I absolutely love this watch! There's little I can add to the other reviews except to say that it's all I hoped it would be and I'm VERY pleased with mine. Since I'm sort of a gadget freak, this timepiece is perfect for me.
There is something you should know, however: Certain versions of this watch have a software bug which will cause them to display the date incorrectly starting in 2010. Citizen is aware of this problem and will reprogram the watch free, but the bad news is that you have to send it in to their repair center. Whether your watch is affected depends on the serial number on the back; a call to Citizen (800-321-1023 in the U.S.) will verify whether you need to send yours in.
So, knowing this, why do I still give this review five stars? Well, the watch is awesome, and the fact that Citizen is proactively dealing with the problem is very impressive. I placed two calls to the number above today and they were very courteous, efficient, and helpful. Kudos to this company for excellent customer service and excellent products.
on April 15, 2008
I spent a good three weeks researching various watches to replace the automatic that was failing to keep time. I was looking at the Citizen Calibre line of watches as well as the Seiko Coutura line, but I finally decided that the Citizen Skyhawk A-T was the only watch that had the three features that I really wanted:
- Battery-free operation
- Atomic clock accuracy
Like others, I was a bit concerned about the size and weight, and I did try on the titanium version, which costs $150 more, but I found that it was *too* light. It felt like I was wearing tinfoil. The stainless steel has a "reassuring, solid heft" to it, but it's by no means too heavy. And, the attractive dial is continually attracting comments. Not to mention that the hands and large markers are easy to read against the black dial. It's a very striking watch, and quite noticeable.
Feature-wise, this watch is jammed-pack, which is quite amazing when you consider it's a solar-powered watch: time in 43 cities, countdown timer, chronometer, perpetual calendar, two alarms, and an atomic clock radio receiver??? I was a little concerned about it not getting enough light as I work in an office and wear long-sleeved shirts, but the power gauge never goes below "full charge." Very reassuring, indeed. It was really amazing to pull it out of the box when I first got it, and all the needles starting spinning to put the watch to the correct time.
The only problem I've had was with the daylight saving time feature. As I live in Phoenix, we don't observe DST (who needs an extra hour of 120 degree heat!), and so I set the clock to Denver time and turned the DST off. But, every night, when the watch would receive the signal from the atomic clock in Colorado, I would wake up finding it an hour later than it really was, as the watch would automatically turn DST back on. After pouring through the manual, I found that you had to both turn off DST for the city the watch is set to, as well as turn it off for the atomic signal update. To do this second step, you have to set the sub-dial to RX-S and turn the "SMT" feature to "Ma." This essentially keeps the atomic clock signal from updating the DST feature.
With that figured out, I really found that I enjoy this watch immensely. It is a truly complicated watch--probably one of the most complicated I own, but the instructions are very clear. Also, I hear what other reviewers say about the backlight only showing the date, but you can easily pull out the crown and switch between date and time, so if you put it on "TIME," the backlight will display the time in the LCD. So, generally, I keep the watch on the calendar feature, so I know the date. But if I need to turn on the backlight to see the time, I pull out the crown, turn it one-quarter clockwise to the "TIME" selection, and push the light button. It sounds like a pain, but it really isn't. I find that I could do this quickly and easily, even in a darkened movie theater. The trick is to keep both LCDs on your home time, so that the analog dial and the digital LCD show the same time.
As for the links on the band, I wouldn't recommend trying to remove them yourself. I tried using a thumb tack, as another review suggested, but it seemed that I had to force them out, and it felt like I was damaging the pins. So, I stopped at a local jeweler who sized my watch for $5.
So, in conclusion I've owned many different watches over the years, including a Seiko Kinetic, which I really loved. But this is the first watch that I feel that would actually serve me for many years to come.
Update on May 21, 2011
Just wanted to add that I've worn this watch every day for the past three years and have not had a single problem with it. All features and functions work like new and the batter charge is still constantly pegged at "full." And, apart from some light scratches on the crystal (which you cannot see unless holding up to a light a certain way), the watch still looks pristine and new.
Definitely the best watch I've ever purchased. I don't forsee myself ever purchasing another watch for a long, long time.
Update on Sept 3, 2014
Still running perfectly for six years! I get the feeling that this will be the last watch I ever own.
on August 15, 2012
I bought this watch for my son, who's a Navy pilot, three years ago. You can get the technical stuff on the other reviews, all I can tell you about it is that he loves this watch.
He had the "Blue Angels" version of the Skyhawk watch and it accidentally got "fried" by AN/SPY-1 radar. The ship's radar operator forgot to turn it off on close approach of his aircraft, apparently, and it cooked his watch.
So I bought him this one to replace the Blue Angels version Skyhawk. He said "You done real good, Dad".
Navy pilot loves watch.
Could be traded for a camel if emergency transportation was required.
Works perfectly for a real, no-kidding US Naval Aviator (Lieutenant Commander as of this writing).
Has given flawless service for several years now.
Is not immune to high energy radar.
Doesn't shoot bullets or missiles.
Makes other pilots jealous.
You can take this for what it's worth but every time I see a pic of him "on duty" anywhere in the world, he's got that watch on his wrist.
on September 2, 2009
I have this watch, and liked it enough to give one to my girlfriend (who was suffering with a persnickety TISSOT with the old DST rule). However, being steel it is rather heavy (there is a titanium version which is quite a bit lighter) and more importantly is the old U600 caliber from a few years ago.
In the U600 caliber, the calendar is the same as the digital time display. Since you usually have the digital time display show some other city than the local city, this means that in calendar mode it will show the other city's date instead of the local date. For example, I have my "other city" set to Tokyo, and the date display generally shows tomorrow's date because Tokyo is 16-17 hours ahead of Seattle time. This isn't a problem with the U680 caliber.
The U680 caliber supports China as a fourth radio time signal, and has an important design fix: you can set the city for the calendar separately from the city for the digital time display.
Currently, the U680 caliber is only available in the Japan-only Attesa line which has no equivalent here. The Attesa has a much less cluttered face even though it has the same information, and an ordinary bezel and not the aviation slide rule bezel.
The U680 caliber has been out for quite a while in Japan, but for some reason Citizen hasn't made it available here.
The manual for the U680 Attesa documents the aviation slide rule bezel as "on some models" but currently no U680 caliber model has one. If it shows up on a Japanese model, it would be on the Promaster Sky-Navihawk which is the Japanese equivalent of the US Skyhawk.
Most American consumers probably don't care about having 4 band (including China) instead of the 3 band (Japan, Europe, USA) that is here. But then again, most American consumers probably don't need the aviation slide rule and would prefer a few more model choices, especially in titanium.
on June 27, 2013
I bought this watch about 1 month ago. The feature set is great and I do like the watch. The slide rule bezel is neat. I had a great time perusing videos on the web learning how to use it. I fly flight sims and this bezel is just what I was after.
I live on the east coast of the United States and have had no issues synching with the atomic clock in Colorado. I haven't had it long enough yet to vouch for the consistency of the radio signal in other areas.
The watch looks great on and while large, it's not "too large". This may be an issue if you are thin or have a small frame. I was concerned about the weight because of the stainless bezel and band but it's not an issue. I also own another Citizen watch that is titanium and while there is some weight difference, it's not that noticeable to me.
Someone else posted here that the watch is "disposable". I don't entirely agree with that. However, I do agree that it was a very poor decision to use a mineral crystal on this watch given its size (and cost). I owned the watch 3 weeks and discovered a fairly major deep scratch! I don't know when it happened. I just know that it wasn't anything unusually traumatic or I would have been aware of it. Very disappointed with Citizen with the choice of using this crystal in this watch at this price.
I knew that it wasn't covered by warranty and that it wasn't Amazon's fault so I couldn't return it. I sent the watch in to Citizen to have the crystal replaced with a sapphire one (along with a brief note regarding my disappointment). After shipping and paying for the crystal and labor, this watch cost me closer to $550.00. I'm still waiting to get it back.
Bottom line: use the $550.00 price when comparing to other watches If they offer the sapphire crystal. Plus, it will save you a lot of hassle with returning it to get the proper crystal put in. While I don't agree that this is a disposable watch, I wish I had paid more attention to the remarks regarding the crystal scratching easily.
One last comment, I must admit that dealing with Citizen's repair shop was about as easy as they can make it. Just use the printable form from their website and follow the directions. They were very courteous also when speaking to them on the phone.
on March 25, 2014
To be honest, I bought this watch solely for the looks. I have a small watch collection and I wanted a real masculine aviator's style watch. However, though I possess a pilot's license, I'd be lying if I said I'd ever needed a watch to provide calculations. That said, I enjoy the accuracy of a radio-controlled watch. The lume is good and the sheer number of capabilities this watch has should warrant a review from anyone who wants a watch in the 'everything but the kitchen sink' category. There are a few caveats though. Number one...you should really think twice if you over the age of 45 and can't read small numbers very well (Either you'll squint like me or you'll buy a magnifier). The tiny booklet can be a little intimidating too as it is about a half-inch think and somewhat confusing in its arrangement. However, once you understand the underlying logic and layout, the book (and the watch) are much easy to deal with. Nice thing is, once you get the watch set...you're done. So, unlike other watches I own, my Eco Skyhawk sets and powers itself. Get past the learning curve and you have a cigar-smoking, tobacco-chewing real man's watch. This thing is big, busy and just oozes testosterone so if you're looking for a watch to wear to your next ballet recital, keep looking...
on September 25, 2013
This is the second Skyhawk watch I've owned. I bought it after my Blue Angels mysteriously disappeared at my friend's house. Since I already had a Blue Angels version, I thought I would get the black and orange version and I don't like the new design on the Blue Angel version.
When I opened the box, I was very surprised. The black and orange looks much nicer in person than it does in the pictures and Citizen finally put a light in it!!! I liked it right away but the real reason I bought the same watch again is because you can have three different time zones at the same time and for flying international there is nothing better. There is the analog UTC time and I keep the analog time set to my city and the digital time set to wherever I am flying to. It's simple and one less calculation to do in my head. The watch keeps time for 43 world cities and so far I haven't flown to a city where I couldn't set the time to.
The sliding rule, E6B computer, is cool to have but I don't really use it anymore that often. I used it a lot when flying small planes just to crosscheck my flight plan etc. Being radio controlled is also a nice feature to have. No need to worry about setting the correct time, unless you live in an area where there is no reception from one of the antennas used to update it.
Even though this watch is solar powered, it still has batteries and they will need to be changed from time to time so don't think you will never need to worry about that.
Overall this is a great watch to own if you are into aviation and very useful for those who fly, especially if you fly international. Highly recommended.