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From an admitted fan of Citizen's atomic timekeeping series,
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This review is from: Citizen Men's AT4006-06X Stainless Steel Eco-Drive Watch with Leather Band (Watch)
This is actually my fifth Citizen atomic timekeeping series watch as I (clearly) really like these. They are in fact controlled by a short wave radio signal, which transmits standard time derived from atomic clocks. I love the technology of radio controlled time. The watches receive a short wave radio signal (station WWVB) run by the NIST (the National Institute of Standards and Technology) out of Fort Collins Colorado that encodes the time signal from a bank of atomic clocks. Once the appropriate city is selected on the watch, the watch applies the appropriate UTC offset to the standard time signal, and viola, your watch is set to the second. The time signal includes the date, accounts for leap years and even accounts for the onset and end of daylight savings time. The watch will automatically attempt to update starting around 2AM, and every hour after that up to 5AM until successful. Even where I live in central North Carolina, as long as I leave the watch sitting near a west-facing window, I have no problem getting signal most nights (the antennae on this model is at the 6 o'clock position, but some of Citizens models have it at the 9 o'clock position). If you are traveling, just pull the crown out to the first notch, rotate it to the city for the appropriate time zone, push in the crown, and the watch will automatically adjust to the new time zone. If necessary, you can force a time signal synchronization by simply pressing and holding the lower pusher for 2-3 seconds, then leave the watch sitting with the 6 o'clock position facing west for 5-15 minutes (note though, that short wave signals are strongest and cleanest at night, when atmospheric interference is least).
These Citizen radio controlled series of watches are extremely well made, with flawless fit and finish on all 5 of mine, including this recent addition (I also have models CB0010-53L, Citizen Men's AT4004-52E Perpetual Chrono A-T Watch, Citizen Men's AT8010-23A Eco-Drive Limited Edition World Chronograph A-T Watch, and Citizen Men's AT8010-58B Eco-Drive World Chronograph A-T Watch). The inclusion of a sapphire crystal at this price point is also a superb value and makes for a very tough crystal as near to truly scratch proof as one can get. The leather strap is genuine leather, with clean neat stitching and feels very comfortable on the wrist. Other models with bracelets use standard split fork pins in the links, so a simple pusher tool is all that is necessary to re-size Citizens metal bracelets on this line of watches.
These watches are also all part of Citizens eco-drive line, which uses light to generate electricity and charge a titanium-Lithium ion battery, which will power the watch for up to 310 days in total darkness. These batteries are rated to last up to 10 years, and in actual use, may well work fine for 20 years. Citizen will replace them if you send it to them for service. These watches have a built in power save feature where, in darkness, they continue to keep time, but stop powering the motors that move the hands. Once exposed to light again, the hands will spin to whatever the current time is and then resuming normal movement. Normal wear should be enough to keep the power reserve full, as even indoor office or home lightening is sufficient. Even if I do not wear one for awhile, I just leave it in a window for a day of direct sunlight once or twice a month, and the power reserve never seems to dip below the first indicator from full charge.
I think that any of the Citizen atomic timekeeping series offers great value, with a great set of features, great workmanship on the fit and finish of the time pieces, and the ease of use of solar power and automatic time keeping. This particular model is perhaps the most distinctive of the series, with its black ion and brown plating and rose gold accents. It makes for a very different looking watch than many of the others. I admit I am an "accuracy fanatic", so the radio controlled time feature is what first drew me to these watches. However, even when they do not get their nightly synchronization, they retain typical high quality quartz movement accuracy, of plus or minus only a few seconds per month (at worst).
P.S. The NIST radio station at Fort Collins does have a web site, and explains the technology in detail. They also have maps of signal strength throughout North America, so you can check to see if you may have trouble synchronizing your watch where you live before you buy. That information is also available in the user manuals available from Citizen on their web site.
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Initial post: Sep 21, 2013 6:32:37 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 21, 2013 6:35:27 AM PDT
I have a Citizen Eco-Drive diamond dress watch that I only wear occasionally. Typically, its only light source is my closet overhead lights, sometimes for a couple of months until I wear it again. I have had it for over four years and it has never shown signs of being drained. It is not Atomic, but maintains exceptional accuracy (rarely requires adjustment) and I too am a little OCD about accuracy.
I have several other Atomic watches (and clocks). I live in Montgomery, AL and never have to make any special effort to attain the nightly updates. I wear my watch while sleeping and it always receives the update. That said, if I force an update at any given time, it might not receive the signal, but when I just wear it and forget it, it's always dead on with all my Atomic time sources. By the way, once you introduce Atomic time into your routine, you discover much of the public time-based world is on Atomic time (e.g. television and radio programing).
I don't know how far from Ft. Collins is in fact too far, but I have a brother that lives in Ft. Lauderdale, FL whom cannot get the Atomic signal. So somewhere between North Carolina/Alabama and deep south Florida is too far.
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