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How Accurate are Citizen Watches?

How Accurate are Citizen Watches?

Citizen has recently announced a new watch which is meant to be the “most accurate wristwatch ever made”. This timepiece is reportedly going to be accurate down to the second—on a yearly basis. This is pretty incredible considering the average quartz wristwatch loses or gains about 15 seconds a month. It’s a pretty hefty order to fill this kind of claim but it’s not surprising that Citizen is crushing this challenge. With watches such as the Chronomaster and (atomic) Skyhawk in their roster, they’ve come pretty close to the feat with previous releases. In fact, coming in at plus-or-minus five seconds a year, their Chronomaster is currently the most accurate watch available on the market. To answer the above question briefly then—Citizen is superlatively accurate in timekeeping. Citizen’s resources and global reach have put some quality R&D into keeping their watches dialed-in exceptionally. That being said, it’s usually specific watch movements that have this level of accuracy. Everyday Citizen watches should be looked at for their specifications if you want to get a good idea of what’s in store—in terms of long-term accuracy—on a watch by watch basis. If you pick up an A660 movement Chronomaster or are ready for the upcoming Calibre 0100, though, you’ll be wearing prime quartz accuracy on your wrist.

Reigning Wristwatch Champ

Until the Baselworld announcement of the Calibre 0100, Citizen’s (and the world’s) golden child of accuracy was the Chronomaster. This is because of their A660 movement. This movement includes a perpetual calendar that needs no resetting until the year 2100. Unlike its nearest competitor, the Grand Seiko (which also comes in at ±5 seconds a year), the Chronomaster runs itself on solar-driven Eco-Drive tech. If you took one look at it, it would appear to be just like any other ordinary Citizen watch you’d find at retail. However, aside from its Eco-Drive capability and perpetual calendar, it utilizes thermocompensation to account for temperature shifts in the movement. This compensation for temperature keeps the oscillations of the quartz movement from deviating or becoming irregular. Without a doubt, Citizen revolutionized the quartz watch world with their Chronomaster—and have outdone themselves again with their upcoming Calibre 0100.

Comes Calibre 0100

Citizen has been rolling out limited edition watches like mad to celebrate their 100 year anniversary—which turned past the dial in 2018. In that year they revealed their first Calibre 0100, taking its namesake from the anniversary. The first iteration of the 0100 movement came in a pocket watch form. Turning heads at Baselworld here in 2019, they announced a wristwatch version of this piece to be released later in the year. It’s exciting to know that a wristwatch with such high accuracy is about to go out for sale—albeit with a bit of a hefty price tag (due to limited release). There will be three models of the wristwatch as follows, the White Gold (AQ6010-06A); the Super Titanium (AQ6021-51E) black dial; and the Super Titanium (AQ6020-53X) with a mother of pearl dial. Each piece will range from around $16,000 down to approximately $7,000. However, after this limited release, it will likely get a more marketable en-mass treatment (or at least one can hope).

How Accurate are Citizen Watches?

The accuracy of the Calibre 0100 is based on a lot of the same principles as the Chronomaster. It utilizes thermocompensation to help regulate the quartz oscillations. However, instead of using a traditional tuning-fork-shaped cut on the quartz crystal, Citizen has created an AT-cut crystal—which vibrates at a frequency 250-times higher than a tuning-fork crystal. The precise piezoelectric oscillations of quartz crystals are what make them more or less accurate—on top of their ability to mitigate heat. So basically, this new AT-cut crystal—on top of Citizen’s thermocompensation—is what makes the piece so accurate. Plus-or-minus one second a year is pretty astounding, to say the least. It has made the Calibre 0100 the most accurate autonomously powered watch in existence.   

Another unique feature to these upcoming Calibre 0100 watches is their second-hand design. Each one requires a high-torque movement, because they made the second hand with brass. It’s not a recommended choice, due to the weight of brass on a watch movement, but Citizen wanted to show off their design prowess with this feature. The second hand arcs with the dial, creating a parabolic relationship between hand and dial that has never been achieved by any other watch design team. This detail really shows how much quality engineering goes into Japanese quartz, signifying (more specifically) Citizen’s power in the world of watchmaking. Speaking their name can encompass mass appeal, affordability, and pristine luxury in one breath—which is no small feat in a horological world full of fierce competition in all arenas.

Mention: Atomic Watches

Citizen and other brands have released atomic watches for years, which can hold down plus-or-minus one second per year as well. Despite this, their accuracy can dip if they do not receive their radio signal from lab-built atomic clocks. Watches like the Calibre 0100 and Chronomaster (among other non-atomics) stand out because of this reality. With the release of the Calibre 0100, especially, Citizen has shown the world that precision engineering can go beyond leaning on atomic time. As well, the self-powering of their Eco-Drive pieces makes them a top contender when it comes to the quartz market. Though there are plenty of solar-powered quartz watches for sale, Citizen still stands on top. After this 2019 release of the Calibre 0100 it will be cool to see the world try to match its craftsmanship and accuracy.

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