Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave Watch Hands-On

Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave Watch Hands-On

Much to the chagrin of Casio and Seiko, one of the most talked about and anticipated Japanese watches of 2011 was this limited edition Eco-Drive Satellite watch from Citizen. Upped to being a limited edition of 990 pieces, this rather pricey timepiece dazzles with design and technology. The future is all about the East while the West seems to be obsessed with the past.

I first discussed this Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave watch here after seeing its debut. With the watch now released I got some hands-on time with one of the production pieces (thanks to Arizona Fine Time, a Citizen dealer). The final watch is rather impressive and very true to the concept version. It was unclear whether or not Citizen was going to actually make too many of these, but due to demand they decided a limited edition run was due. Having said that, I hear murmurs that Citizen will be not only using this special technology in future watches, but the Eco-Drive Satellite Wave will be followed-up with other versions that have different color tones (possibly next year).

So what is this Eco-Drive satellite tech all about? I discussed it more thoroughly in the link above. Basically Citizen has developed a system for having the watch manually connect with GPS satellites to sync the exact time no matter where you are in the world. Previously watches of this theme were only able to connect with the radio signals of atomic clocks. But you needed to be in the vicinity of said atomic clocks - and those don't at all cover the entire world. The idea here is that you will be able to have the precise time, in a movement that is charged by the light, no matter where you are (on this planet).

The idea sounds great but according to some it hasn't quite lived up to the hype. This is due to one critical drawback - that being that the watch will not automatically sync with the satellites. To sync with them you need to manually tell the watch you are ready to receive signals (and you probably need to be outdoors). My guess is that this is due battery power issues and that it doesn't have the power to constantly check for signals. I am sure that this is being looked into and hopefully will be improved in future renditions of the Eco-Drive Satellite movement concept. In this watch is Citizen's H990 caliber quartz movement.

A lot of people are disappointed by the lack of automatic time synchronization in the Eco-Drive Satellite Wave watch. I understand that. The idea that the watch, like your mobile phone would always ensure it is showing the right time, no matter where you are is an easy thing to lust for. It is coming, but we are just not there yet. The issue almost always boils down to power consumption. If you are OK with manually telling the watch to sync the time, then you should be OK with this piece.

At 48mm wide the case is mega-sized with a mega personality. The case itself is beautiful. As I understand it Citizen has developed some special way of doing a ceramic coating over steel. Whatever it is, the shiny gray case material is fantastic looking, especially with all those green inserts. Over the dial is a very dome crystal that reflect a lot of light. I would have liked for Citizen to bathe it in AR coating (especially at this price). One major complaint about the dial is the lack of luminant. For a sport looking watch it is really a shame to have no backlight or lume coated parts on the dial.

Attached to the case is that green and black strap that needs to be cut to size. I tend to not like these, but once properly sized they world out. Citizen will charge you $80 bucks for a new one I hear. The overall fit and finish of the case and watch is impressive. Everyone also seems to like the presentation box it comes with. With some drawbacks that might be serious or trivial based on your needs, the Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave wave is still very impressive and cool. No doubt it signals upcoming technologies and still shows that the Japanese have the total edge when it comes to producing the tech elite of the watch world. Price for the limited edition Eco-Drive Satellite Wave watch is a steep $3,800.

  • Harald

    Great review – thanks !

  • DG Cayse

    Very nice overlook. It would appear that this watch is a watch engineers’ design approach to “Lets see what we can do,,,!”
    Well intentioned; but not very practical. Too much comes up in after-thought.
    I look for this to be greatly improved in further renditions.

  • Gene

    I had been waiting for the watch to come out for quite a while. In fact a few weeks back I stopped into the only (according to them) Citizen store in the US in the Mohegan Sun Casino and asked them when it would come out… neither of the sales reps had even heard of the watch; which I found rather odd. One of the sales clerks looked it up on the Internet on her phone and was fascinated. The next day I wrote Citizen US an email to ask when and where it would be available and they said all the watches had already been spoken for but they might make another run next year. Sometimes I think these companies produce watches for other watch makers (nah, nah, nah, nah, nah… look what I can do)… and think of the actual buying public as an afterthought. Clearly it looks like they need to solve some issues if you have to manually sync the time; part of the whole “thing” with a perfect time piece is the “time”… Electronic watches should be as perfect about keeping the right time as possible since that is really the allure over mechanical… otherwise, the mechanical watch has it all over the electronic watches in every other way.

    • Greg

      Hi Gene, no offense intended, serious question, but is the Mohegan Sun Casino a bit ‘low rent’?
      Do players dream of striking it big and going ‘git me a citizen quartz!’ :)

      • Randy Torres

        Greg, no offense, but you do that well. Can we assume that you drive up to CT from Alabama one or twice a year and bet the rent money on a big slot payout?

        • Greg

          The casinos here in Singapore charge locals and permanent residents a $100 levy just to enter, so as to discourage them from gambling, it has certainly worked on me!
          Funnily enough, said casino also has a citizen outlet selling this very watch, at least, it will when they restock at the end November, so it appears to be selling well despite the flaws Ariel mentioned above.

      • Gene

        Ha… Mohegan Sun is actually a beautiful upscale casino with great restaurants and nice stores (also upscale… Coach, Tiffany & Co, Lux Bond & Green which has a nice collection of mechanical watches) and very good events in their arena. Personally I don’t gamble but my wife enjoys milking $200 every so often. Different strokes for different folks. There is a lot there for non-gamblers… you should give it a try, you might actually have a good time :-).

  • Ulysses

    The price is steep but unlike a lot of watches at this price point, the Citizen offers a function that is currently unique; that of direct satellite communication (wrist-mounted GPS doesn’t count). It looks pretty cool too, but I would wait for this technology to fall to a more sane price first.

  • Randy Torres

    I too have been waiting for this watch to come out. To look at it is, IMHO, a thing of beauty. I am disappointed by the manual synch and frankly the price. I agree with Ariel that at this price point both lume and AR coating are de rigeuer! The tech is still a little off, but I’d bet the mortgage that Citizen will get it right, perhaps by limiting the auto synch to once every 24 hours. I look forward to owning a new and improved version of one of these in the future!

    • Nathan

      I’ve sold the majority of these available in Canada already. Got to play with them quite a bit and they have plenty of AR on the inside. Citizen did mention it does drain the battery quite a bit and while it would just mean frequent battery changes in a normal quartz, in this it means running the rechargeable cell through WAY too many drain/charge cycles too quickly to be practical. Eco-Drive basically counted against them a bit on this one.

      As for the price, you get what you pay for. My customers get more compliments on it than many more expensive watches. It’s truly one of the most interesting designs I’ve seen in a while as well as incredibly practical. Plus it’s all ceramic and sapphire so there isn’t much to worry about when wearing your limited edition watch out.

      • Nathan

        Sorry meant that the atomic syncing drained the battery.

  • stephen

    No lump or light? Seriously?
    And only 50M (just about swim proof)?
    So go anywhere in the world, so long as its not wet… or dark… Great tool watch…

    • http://ablogtowatch.com admin

      Well the case is nice!

  • BIG CHRONO

    This trinket is before its time. Should not have been released until kinks resolved, & price reduced to a more palatable, realistic level.

  • Johnny

    I heard Citizen was going to package these in sugary children’s cereals instead of watch boxes so as to keep the whole buying experience constant with the aesthetic theme.

    Is this watch not the 2011 edition of a “secret decoder ring”?

    • Nathan

      Different strokes for different folks. Although I’ve only heard people online who have never seen one who have been snobbish towards it. Everyone who has seen one couldn’t care less if it was a standard quartz with no atomic features at all. It’s just that good looking. Personally I think you’re just jelly 😛

      • Johnny

        So you admit that this watch has no use aside from being aesthetically pleasing.

        You’re basically saying that you support Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Greece, and the cast of Twilight.

        Shame on you; if America fails, its all your fault.

        If I were given the choice between changing a new-born baby’s diaper or wearing this watch outside of my house, I wouldn’t do either. They’re both shitty decisions.

  • Jim Clement

    Not bad for a first effort! I would expect to see this improve both functionally and stylistically in future iterations. The first Pentium (60 Mhz) chips back in 1992 had an FDIV bug in the FPU. Intel released them anyway, and they sold like hotcakes due being far superior to the 486 DX.

    This watch, though not ready for wear upon my wrist, is the first to approach the “time-sync vs location” problem in a much better manner than an atomic clock can provide. The minor problems are capable of being worked out in short order (2 – 3 years) by the engineers at Citizen.

    I would expect to see a whole range of these within a few short years.

  • John

    I definitely want a watch that syncs to a satellite and manual sync would be fine. However the price has to come down a lot.

  • Dave

    They are not all spoken for, i had one on my wrist today

  • Dave

    Nathan is right, if your a collector and you put this on your wrist, you wont care about the price

  • T FU

    I agree with most of Ariel’s comments on the Citizen Satellite Wave. However, he may be wrong about one thing, i.e. that you have to manually sync it.
    It is not true that this Citizen Satellite Wave can only be synchronized manually. According to the manual of the watch, if the watch has not received satellite time signal for an extended period of time, it will automatically receive satellite signal. They call it “Circumstantial Reception”.
    The watch will start automatic reception when the following four conditions are met:
    The watch is sufficiently charged and operating normally;
    The displayed time is between 6 am and 6 pm;
    The satellite time signal has not been received for more than 72 hours; and
    The watch is outside or sunlight has been shining on the dial continuously.

    I would liken this watch to the old Omega Marine Chronometer. They both have quartz movement, they both have a “either love it or hate it looks”, they were both at the cutting edge of technology when they were introduced, and hence, they were both fairly expensive; they both have drawbacks, e.g. the Marine Chronometer depletes the battery rather quick. At the time of its introduction, the Marine Chronometer was an attempt to be the most accurate watch in the world, and probably still is. The Satellite Wave approach this goal in a different way and it is one of the first. For that I think it is cool.

    • http://ablogtowatch.com admin

      I didn’t know about that option to manually sync. I haven’t read the manual and the retailers I spoke to and at least one owner didn’t even know about that function. As far as I am concerned if Citizen hides a function then what good is it? Either way, I think that it is is cool that it allows you to do that.

  • Charles Boulakia

    Manual sync is just fine, and probably better – the radio synced ones synced at night, because the signal was better (less interference) and the watch was probably not moving. That won’t work with GPS – syncing at night means you’re typically indoors. I wouldn’t mind syncing manually every time I was outdoors on a sunny day. Besides – it’s quartz, so realistically it only needs synching every couple of weeks or so (at most). Love the design, love the materials; if this was under $1000 I’d be looking for one right now, but the price point is a bit out of my range for a watch like this (though I understand why others are buying it)…

  • Harald

    Hi

    @Ariel – you mention;
    Having said that, I hear murmurs that Citizen will be not only using this special technology in future watches, but the Eco-Drive Satellite Wave will be followed-up with other versions that have different colour tones (possibly next year).

    Any chance you have any links or could forward via email any correspondence by chance ? I own one of these SatWave’s and have yet to decide to sell or keep it. The ‘murmurs’ would greatly influence this decision; if I can buy a cheap (lumed and waterproof) watch next year then I can sell the limited edition now..

    many thanks

  • PETEBENNETT

    I bought 3 of these and I just love them – amazing bits of kit. Having said that, I can’t bring myself to cut the strap on the one I am going to keep and list the others on ebay. It’s very hard to let them go having spent so much time and money getting hold of them :)

    • edzukich

       @PETEBENNETT 
      hi pete
      do you have one for sale ?
      email me 
      esu    17894    @ bigpond.net  au 
      cheers
      ed
       

  • aksessuari

    hi pete
    do you have one for sale ?
    email me 
    k_denis@bk.ru
     

  • casio

    I m looking this watch..anyone can sale it to me..pls..

  • casio

    casiogiez@yahoo.com.. pls inform me if anyone can sale eco drive satellite wave..tq

    • taobaosg

      casio I have a NEW Mens Citizen Satellite Wave Limited Edition CC0005-06E #663/990 for sales at USD6200

  • taobaosg

    aksessuari I have a NEW Mens Citizen Satellite Wave Limited Edition CC0005-06E #663/990 for sales at USD6200

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  • baskettmail

    I Have a Satellite Wave #197 for sale.
    Email me at if your a serious buyer

  • bbbjorkman

    Hi all — I’ve got an Eco-Drive Satellite Wave, number 205, for sale. Happy to chat about it and exchange pictures via email: cbmartin (at) gmail (dot) com.

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  • okko

    Looking for a brand new or mint condition of this baby : stephanr(at)gmail(dot) com

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