Review of the new eco-drive The Citizen, Model AQ1000-58E - Seiko & Citizen Watch Forum – Japanese Watch Reviews, Discussion & Trading
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Old 01-13-2012, 07:10 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Review of the new eco-drive The Citizen, Model AQ1000-58E

A few weeks ago, I received The Citizen, Model AQ1000-58E, the new “eco-drive” (light-cell replenished battery) version of the quartz The Citizen (lord, that’s an awkward locution, but that’s the model’s name!) Since many HEQ forumers are already familiar with its predecessor, the Citizen Chronomaster (and since I have one, CTQ57-0955), it seemed like a good idea to review the newer model beside the older one. This review will be pretty superficial since I lack the intestinal fortitude to unscrew the back and look at the movement. I guess until that is done, we won’t know whether the newer Citizen A010 movement is little more than an A660 adapted for a light-replenished battery or something completely different. I’ll start the review with some pictures, for the quality of which I must apologize. I had a friend take them with my help, but neither of us is exactly photography-savvy. In each picture, the AQ1000-58E is on the left and the older Chronomaster CTQ57-0955 on the right. As an additional resource, the manual for this new watch can be found at:

http://www.citizenwatch.jp/support/pdf/a010/e.pdf



[url=http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/805/thecitizenno1.jpg/]





At this point, there are two other models using this new A010 movement, AQ1000-58A (champagne dial) and AQ1000-58B (silver dial). Current MSRP is 210,000 JPY. Bargains are available, with 160,000 JPY being offered by some suppliers. These prices are significantly lower than those of the Chronomaster series. For example, the closest Chronomaster, CTQ57-1202 has a MSRP of 262,500 JPY. Like AQ1000-58E, this Chronomaster has a stainless steel (SS) case and is thus is less expensive than the titanium Chronomaster models. This all suggests some cost-cutting steps in the materials and manufacture of AQ1000-58-series models (appearing in aesthetic differences), and these will be identified later in this review. As an aside, Citizen appears to have followed Seiko with the latter’s introduction a couple of years ago now of their less-expensive Grand Seiko quartz models, designed for the international market—SBGX059, 061, 063 and 065. These latter Seikos (at exactly the same MSRP as the new The Citizens) represent lesser quality than those GS quartz models of the past, with the differences being largely aesthetic..

First, Citizen appears to have carried on the truly-excellent 10-year warranty with these new models. In addition (also in line, I think, with the Chronomasters), Citizen offers two inspections and timing adjustments, free of charge, during the first 10 years of ownership, the first in the second year of use, the last in the eighth. The specified accuracy is the same as that of the Chronomaster, within ± 5 seconds per year. Interestingly, the manual states: “To maintain this timekeeping accuracy, you must use the watch at ambient temperature (between +5°C and +40°C) and carry it with you approximately 12 hours a day.” (Boldface mine.) I suppose we might assume that Citizen means to wear the watch approximately 12 hours a day.

No real technical information is found in the manual under “Specifications” (at least that I could find), including the quartz oscillator frequency. Thus, whether this new movement may employ some variant of the 3-prong Bulova Precisionist (Bulova being owned by Citizen) or the more common 32 kHz oscillator is, at the moment, unknown.

The new AQ1000 models are stainless steel; no titanium models with the A010 movement have yet appeared. In the Citizen advertisement for the new models, they note that the watch has “white coating.” Although we can’t be sure of this, it would seem to suggest something like Duratect. The watch has a WR of 10BAR and a non-screw-down crown (as is true also for CTQ57-0955). The crystal is double (inside and out) AR coated sapphire. The dimensions are very close to those of the earlier Chronomasters:


Case Diameter: AQ1000-58E: 37.3 mm. (by my Vernier caliper); CTQ57-0955: 37.8 mm.
Case Thickness: AQ1000-58E: 10.4 mm; CTQ57-0955: 9.9 mm.
Lug-to-Lug Length: AQ1000-58E: 44.8 mm.; CTQ57-0955: 44.6 mm.
Lug Opening: AQ1000-58E: 19 mm.; CTQ57-0955: 20 mm.
Weight: AQ1000-58E: 124 g.; Equivalent SS CTQ57-1202: 117 g.


I should add, in connection with case diameters that, in the flesh (metal?), AQ1000-58E looks a little smaller, a fact lost in the pictures where they were photographed separately and then combined via Photoshop. Thus, Picture 1 gives an inaccurate impression of their relative perceived size. AQ1000-58E has a crystal diameter of 30.5 mm., whereas CTQ57-0955 has a crystal diameter of 31.9 mm. Given the very-similar case diameters, this occurs because of the much more-steeply angled bezel on CTQ57-0955 than on AQ1000-58E. This is clear from Picture 3. Thus, from above, the dial appears larger on CTQ57-0955.


As with the Chronomasters, AQ1000-58E has a perpetual calendar and an independently-adjustable hour hand. The latter makes time changes dead-easy. These features are definitely improvements over the Seiko 9F series of top-quality quartz movements.

Overall, I’d say that aesthetically, AQ1000-58E falls a little short of CTQ57-0955. Some of this will be apparent from the pictures, but, given their generally poor quality, some will be missed, and I’ll elaborate on those features. The case of AQ1000-58E is very-nicely finished, with a mirror polish—same as CTQ57-0955. There is very-slightly greater complexity to the AQ1000-58E case, in that it incorporates an additional bevel on the side—between the top of the lugs and the sides. This should be apparent from Pictures 2 and 3 above. This is a pleasing touch.


Both dials are black, but they throw off a slightly different effect. That on CTQ57-0955 is a deeper jet-black, whereas that on AQ1000-58E gives off something of a sunburst vibe in certain lights (despite the fact that the crystal is double AR-coated) and appears slightly less-dark--a characteristic undoubtedly the result of needing a dial that will admit sufficient light to the light cell beneath. On both, the hour markers are deep nicely-beveled, -faceted, and -contoured pieces applied to the dial. However, they are wider (and have accompanying lume) on CTQ57-0955. With respect to the minute markers, these are clearly applied fine, polished slivers of metal in CTQ57-0955. With AQ1000-58E, however, I just can’t be sure how these markers are formed; they do have a little depth (suggesting that they may not be printed), but may be painted on with a thick metallic substance. This is one area where we see cost savings on the newer models. Examination of the date frame shows a nicely-polished one on CTQ57-0955, but one with machining striations on AQ1000-58E—again lower quality. In connection with the date presentation, I prefer the white-on-black appearance on AQ1000-58E to the black-on-white found with CTQ57-0955, as it provides better consistency with the overall dial appearance.


The hands on both are Dauphin style, but much wider (and with lume) in CTQ57-0955 than in AQ1000-58E. The narrow hour and minutes hands on AQ1000-58E present my aging eyes with some perception difficulties in low-light conditions. In my mind at least, this would have to be seen as a real disadvantage for AQ1000-58E. Although I wasn’t really pleased to see the charge indicator on the AQ1000-58E dial when I saw the first pictures last spring, I must say that it isn’t much of a distraction once one gets used to it. My AQ1000-58E specimen arrived fully-charged, and in the now 11 weeks of wearing—with long-sleeve shirts and sweaters—it has moved very little from the full-charge end of the charge indicator.


Picture 4 shows the bracelets. On both, pins, as opposed to screws, are used, and there are no micro-adjustments in the clasp. However, it’s easy to see that the bracelet on CTQ57-0955 (and also on the SS CTQ57-1202) is more finely-detailed, with more links, and alternating polished and brushed effect. That on AQ1000-58E lacks these refinements, and this undoubtedly contributes to the lower cost of the latter watch. This is exactly what Seiko did with their bracelets for SBGX059-065 when lowering GS quartz costs. The bracelet on AQ1000-58E is OK, I guess, but not as nice (to my eye) as that on CTQ57-0955.

Overall, then, I see AQ1000-58E as slightly inferior aesthetically to the Chronomasters. Still, the level of fit and finish is high, and the general appearance and sparkle are impressive. As I’ve opined before on this forum, I really don’t see any non-negligible aesthetic differences between the Chronomasters and the GS quartz models. If I could compare this newer The Citizen with one of the more recent, lower-cost, international GS quartzes, I suspect that I wouldn’t detect any real aesthetic differences between the two either.

In favor of the new AQ1000-58-series The Citizens, the light-cell feature is a real step forward, in my opinion. Not having to remember when to arrange for battery replacement appeals to me, although having a watch like this serviced occasionally is never a bad idea. I think that, in my case (if I keep the watch), I will send it back for the free servicings even though it won’t need a battery change.


Probably the outstanding feature of The Citizen is its accuracy: specified,as noted earlier, by Citizen as ± 5 seconds per year. This accuracy standard is currently the very best in watchdom. My experience with this watch’s predecessor, CTQ57-0955, was very good; it stayed within + 2 seconds per year (although only when worn). I have begun an accuracy test of this new The Citizen and will report the results in another thread when a long enough time period has elapsed to provide stable accuracy results.


I’m encouraged by Citizen’s efforts to upgrade their best quartz movements and wish Seiko would follow suit. The A660 movement has been with us since 1995, and now we have a newer development. The Seiko 9F series has been with us since 1993, and no improvements have appeared since then.


I guess I see (or perhaps only hope to see!) AQ1000-58E (and -58A and -58B) as the beginning of a new series of really top-notch light-cell HEQ watches from Citizen. We will, I’m sure, see titanium models before too long, and, I would imagine, other enhancements.


I’ll try to answer any questions any of you might have.
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Old 01-14-2012, 08:38 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Review of the new The Citizen, Model AQ1000-58E

fantastic review!
Thanks!


so, you are not sure if the new model can keep up with the older's +-5 sec/p/y?
is it thermocompensated? id so, why the requirement to wear it 12 hours per day?


Thanks again!

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Old 01-14-2012, 12:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Review of the new The Citizen, Model AQ1000-58E

Oh, sure, it's thermocompensated. You'd need that feature to get anywhere near the ± 5 seconds per year (s/y) specification. I should have mentioned that in the review. My expectation at this point is that this new A010 movement will match the older A660 movement in the Chronomaster in accuracy. Given Citizen's guarantee to ensure that the watch stays within specs, and the free checkups and adjustments, I think we can count on the ± 5 s/y performance when worn the required amount of time. My Chronomaster, CTQ57-0955, was really exceptional in this respect..

The 12-hours per day wearing requirement is one that seems to accompany most, if not all, thermocompensated watches from Japan at least. The Grand Seiko 9Fxx-powered models have this disclaimer as well. I and others have done some tests on how well these movements do when the 12-hour per day condition is not met. I've timed many thermocompensated watches when they have not been worn for months, living at room temperature (around 70°F). With the earlier Citizen A660 movement-powered Chronomasters, we've seen some departure from the ± 5 s/y standardunder these lower-temperature conditions (wearing a watch results in approximately 86°F ambient temperature on the watch). With three Chronomasters I've owned, two have produced more like 10-12 s/y accuracy off the wrist. This is, of course, not terrible, but is out-of-spec. Interestingly, the 9F-powered Grand Seiko quartz watches produce a flatter temperature x rate function. My three GS 9F-powered models yield about the same accuracy off the wrist as they do on. Most GS quartz models, though, have a ± 10 s/y specification.
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Old 01-14-2012, 06:15 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Review of the new The Citizen, Model AQ1000-58E

its doesnt make sense.
in a TC movement, wearing should not be a must, right?

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Old 01-15-2012, 01:17 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Review of the new The Citizen, Model AQ1000-58E

This is just the way it is with even the very best TC watches. Swiss watches with the ETA TC movements (mainly Breitling) advertise specifications more like ± 15 s/y, albeit without any hours-of-wear requirements. That way, they are covered for both wearing and off-the-wrist conditions. Since it is generally considered more important for the top accuracy to accompany the wearing condition (than the off-wrist condition), these TC Japanese watches are calibrated at the factory to be thermo-insensitive to typical wearing temperatures, with the daily temperature fluctuations we experience when wearing a watch. This way, we can, for as long as we are wearing the watch for approximately 12 hours a day, count on +/- 5 s/y accuracy.[size=0pt] This also means that some days not wearing the watch at all, along with, perhaps, others when we wear it for 24 hours will keep the movement within specs. However, even with the watch drifting off to, say, +10 s/y when not worn for a long time, you are still enjoying far, far superior accuracy when this is compared with any standard quartz movement.

Here's another way to look at this. Suppose your eco-drive The Citizen is operating at +3 s/y (about where mine is at the moment). You need to set it twice a year for DST changes. If you set it to be -.5 seconds from atomic time in the fall DST change, and -1 seconds from atomic time in the spring DST change, this watch will never be more than 1 second from perfect time, and will be within .5 seconds of perfect time for 8 of the 12 months.
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