September 6, 2013
by Paul Hubbard
You have to love Citizen. Between Seiko and themselves, the state of the art in quartz timekeeping keeps improving. Solar power, radio-set time, Bluetooth, GPS… they lead the way.
This is the Blue Angels World Time Chronograph, reference AT8020-03L. Eco-Drive (solar power), sapphire crystal, radio-set, 60-minute chronograph, perpetual calendar, day/date, power reserve plus quick-change support for 26 time zones.
Citizen has long been a supporter of the Blue Angels team, so this watch is the latest in a long line. Long before I was writing here, I asked my wife to buy me one as I was learning to fly, so a Blue Angels was my first pilot’s watch:
They’ve advanced and changed quite a bit since then (2001). Mine was battery powered, mineral crystal (you can see the scratches), and non radio-set. The design evolved too, with the change to an inner slide rule computer bezel and the dropping of the LCD screens. Functionally, the new model lacks the alarms of the old, and is in general simpler to use. I’ve kept and continue to use mine, it still has the best movement I’ve found for air travel. More on this later.
Nice simple box and packaging, which includes a QR code card, mini-CD and the paper manual too. Citizen proudly says that the packaging is made from recycled materials – a good thing.
As a former pilot I have to say that the slide rule bezels are not usable in flight. Too small and fiddly. More of a reminder of your E6B and a nice conversation piece. On the A-T, the bezel is under the crystal, and actuated via the crown at eight o’clock. On the wrist, that’s very difficult. However, moving it under the glass makes the watch dressier.
One of the A-T features I like a lot is time zone changes. Pull the crown out one stop, rotate to select your new timezone, push it back in and the hands move. Done, and you can even manage it without taking the watch off. My older model has the same feature, implemented with buttons, and I still love it for jet travel days.
Functionally, the A-T has a one hour chronograph, a fixed 24-hour display at nine, perpetual calendar, Eco-Drive solar power, retrograde day display, power reserve, atomic (radio-set) timekeeping that works with six transmitters (US, UK, Germany, China, Japan). The world time support includes 30-minute-offset zones, but not the 15-minute oddballs. next page »