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Citizen Skyhawk AT Atomic Watch - JY0000-53E
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.