Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave F900 GPS Watch Hands-On

Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave F900 GPS Watch Hands-On

Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave F900 GPS Watch Hands-On Hands-On

At Baselworld 2015, Citizen introduced the follow-up model to its very cool Eco-Drive Satellite Wave F100 GPS watch (aBlogtoWatch review here) with the Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave F900 (debuted here). I recommend you read those articles to not only understand the purpose and history of this watch collection and other Citizen GPS watches, but also to find out why the Satellite Wave F900 is going to be particularly cool.

Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave F900 GPS Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Even though Citizen debuted the Eco-Drive Satellite Wave F900 back in March, only now in the Autumn season of 2015 will it be available for purchase. At launch, Citizen claimed that the Satellite Wave F900 would be part of a limited edition with 3,000 pieces made in titanium and 3,000 pieces in DLC black titanium. Only half of those will ever leave Japan. With that said, the watches don't have limited edition labels and the current information on the Citizen website does not mention this. I do, however, feel that product will still be low, since these will be among the most high-priced Citizen watches available. The question for consumers, is whether the price will be worth it.

Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave F900 GPS Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave F900 GPS Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Since Citizen, and competitor Seiko, began to release GPS-controlled watches a few years ago, the prices of such models has actually gone down. With that said, even basic GPS-controlled watches from any of the "big three" Japanese brands (Seiko, Citizen, and Casio) are expensive by quartz watch standards. The Citizen Satellite Wave F100 retails for $1,800, while this F900 retails for $2,400. That is a $600 premium over the original model. The question is whether a quartz watch can command such a price these days in the context of both mechanical watches, as well as smartwatches.

Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave F900 GPS Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave F900 GPS Watch Hands-On Hands-On

While the Satellite Wave F900 GPS watch does a lot of smart things, it is, of course, not a connected smartwatch like the Apple Watch is - and it comes in at over double the price of an Apple Watch in steel. With that said, there is a lot of quality and features in the Wave F900, and it doesn't need a phone companion to work, nor does it need to be charged. In fact, one of the major selling points of most Citizen watches is their "Eco-Drive" technology, which simply means that they contain movements powered by light collected through the dial which then hits a photo-voltaic cell that charges the battery.

Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave F900 GPS Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave F900 GPS Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Eco-Drive has been a hallmark of many Citizen watches for over a decade now, and it is interesting how successful the technology is in both very inexpensive and more high-end quartz watches such as the Satellite Wave F900. I mentioned in the previous article what the F900 watch does over the F100, but let me quickly recap the important parts. Most obviously, the F900 has more functionality over the Satellite Wave F100. The watch now offers a function selector subdial at 3 o'clock, and added features include a chronograph, alarm, and the ability to view two time zones at once on the dial. This last element is extremely important because you not only get a dedicated subdial at 6 o'clock for the second time zone, but it is very legible. I previously pointed out that while the F100 made for a fantastic travel watch, the lack of being able to check on a reference time holds it back from being as useful as possible.

Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave F900 GPS Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Thus, with the added functionality in the F900, I do feel that Citizen finally made the "perfect" travel watch that the Eco-Drive Satellite Wave collection needed. More so, I find the three subdial layout of the F900 more visually balanced than that of the F100, even though it isn't as clean. It also helps the Satellite Wave F900 watch look like a more "tech generation" product, from case to dial.

What do you think?
  • I want it! (28)
  • I love it! (4)
  • Interesting (3)
  • Thumbs up (3)
  • Classy (1)
  • I_G

    I hate non-autonomous watches. What if the Russkies shoot down all the satellites with their nasty lasers? Then you are there with a plain quartz watch, probably ±20-30sec/y. Did I mention I hate quartz watches?

    • IanE

      I like to think of quartz watches as pure tool watches and, as they serve that function exceptionally well, I enjoy them for that. If they happen to look nice (this one doesn’t, IMHO), that is a plus worth spending a bit on (not as much as Grand Seiko ask though – again, IMHO)!

      • iamcalledryan

        I agree – but I have to admit, I wear my quartz apologetically…

    • They don’t have to shoot ’em down. Just “dazzle” them with lasers I guess. Then you’d have to rely on Russian GLONASS satellites or the handful or European Galileo birds.

      If you need accuracy and autonomy, then how about the Hoptroff watches? You just need to keep them fed with fresh batteries!

  • Worthwhile functional improvement (GPS location) over the older model. Now if it just looked a bit cleaner. Hopefully the prices will continue to drop.

    Personally, I hate the timezones displayed on the rehaut because the gazillon time zones are not aligned to their compass points. Meaning the odd-ball half hour timezones get equal spacing so they crowd 29(?) of them in there. I know it’s not a traditional world time display but it still bugs me. And the dial and sub-dials still appear over “complex” visually which is to say distracting. And while these are sporty watches do they have to have the neon green (plus orange) on the dark dial and the orange on the light dialed watch? A little more monochome version would be just that much better to my eye.

    I don’t care much for the case shape either. Not so much the shape as the execution of it. Sort of looks like a Linde Werdelin Oktopus but with with too many extraneous surfaces left (like the flat at 12 & 6 among other needless facets). The scratch resistant coating is a definite plus though (especially with titanium).

    Kudos for getting the GPS receiver and the solar cells and everything else in a 13.1 mm thick case. Despite my gripes this really is a technical marvel.

    • egznyc

      perhaps there are countries who want to get more attention and they feel that by making their time zone a little different – say by 15 or 30 minutes – they’ve accomplished this goal. We may wind up regressing back to the days when every town had its own time setting based on when the sun was at its zenith.

      • “…countries who want to get more attention and they feel that by making
        their time zone a little different – say by 15 or 30 minutes…”

        You just described North Korea and its recent announcement of their +8.5 hour time zone. Which they went to say:

        “”The wicked Japanese imperialists committed such unpardonable crimes as
        depriving Korea of even its standard time while mercilessly trampling
        down its land,” KCNA says.” (The KCNA being their official news agency – like they have any unofficial news agencies?)

        • egznyc

          Unofficial news agencies don’t seem to survive very long. But this doesn’t get reported …

  • SuperStrapper

    I enjoy, but don’t love the look. It is very technical and cohesive, which I enjoy. I also appreciate the green highlights on the black case, a great little splash of contrast. It brobably is the ultimate travelling watch, but despite the above-average amount of travelling I do, I don’t see a need for it in my rotation.

    Would love to see one in the metal and try it on sometime.

  • 4tens

    Thank you Ariel for “its just due” on this really cool watch!!!

  • Lurch

    Really nice watch. A little too busy for me on the dial, but I am told by a local watch retailer that men like more complicated dials. For example, I heard the best selling watch by Citizen is the Blue Angels Skyhawk. I have a Model AW1241-54L Citizen (less busy, pictured below) and really like the Super Titanium on it. The Duratect DLC + MRK is one of the hardest surface coatings Citizen makes


    Too much noise. Does it even tell time? I can’t figure it out.

  • Adam Young

    The addition of location tracking is the best upgrade here as it’s something you can just forget about if you’re making a trip through different time zones, and thus preventing a Phileas Fogg scenario.
    I’m looking forward to this tech slowly getting cheaper and smaller.

  • JimBob

    What’s with all the flat sides? It looks like an F-117. That would have been cool a couple of decades ago.

    • I agree, there are some watches which pull off the “faceted” look well. But this isn’t one of them.

  • cg

    Nice! White face needs a color treatment like the black face but in orange yellow or red not Kawasaki green!

  • spiceballs

    Nice, very useful & convenient (for travelers) but a bit too “busy” (for me) and not too sure about legibility? Need to see it in the metal and how it compares to my simpler current radio-controlled version.

  • ConElPueblo

    In 40 years time, I think we’ll view these as we view tuning fork watches today…

  • egznyc

    Okay, it’s pretty cool that this quartz doesn’t need new batteries or regular charging other than by exposure to light, and it’s cool that it automatically updates local time by GPS. But does it only update once you’ve landed at your destination? Or can it give you real time updates from 35,000 feet? And is any of this worth over $2K? I’d also love to know if Ariel was able to confirm Citizen’s claim that it takes only three seconds to find the signal. My running GPS watch often takes a couple of minutes. (Granted, I didn’t pay an additional $2K for it, either.)

    • The inside of an airliner is one of the worst places to receive GPS signals, so no luck there. But I agree that it would be nice to be able to manually adjust the timezone (or does it already have that feature?). Two years ago Ariel arrived in Hawaii and the Seiko Astron he was wearing then took a while when he finally got the rental car parking lot, but it did pick-up the right time in paradise (we are 2 hours and 23 minutes behind California – we just do everything slowly out here, ha ha). So I don’t expect this Citizen to do much better walking down airport concourses either. If you can’t see the sky, neither can the watch’s GPS antenna. Sucks but there it is.

      I want a Smarter GPS watch that will use the network time from my cell phone it the watch is withing Bluetooth range to optionally set the time as I get destination time on my phone as soon as I turn it back on upon landing. Screw that waiting until I get to a parking lot for the rental car.

      • egznyc

        Two hours and twenty three minutes behind California?!? Wouldn’t that depend if you’re in Eureka in the west or along the Arizona border in the east? But of course HI is two hours behind CA time-zone-wise.

        Much aloha.

        • Yes, we are 2 hours behind the west coast. The “additional 23 minutes” is just a joke about being on “island time”.

  • Gary K

    How does the F900 handle timezones that deviate from the GPS coordinates? Does it have a database internally to handle this? Can this database be updated or is it static?

    • All timezones deviate from the standard 15 degree lines of longitude somewhere in their shape, so yes a database is required. Good question about updates though. Cheers.

  • iamcalledryan

    This might be the closest to an attractive Citizen that I have seen. Not close enough though.

  • Pingback: Citizen Satellite Wave World Time GPS CC3020-57L Watch Hands-On | aBlogtoWatch()

  • Mustafa Abulrub

    This is an old post, and I am not sure if it is the right forum, but this is one of the few blogs that talks about Citizen F900 and the previous models.
    I owned the two models F100 and now the F900. They both have serious issue. After one year of use or may be less, Noting the energy level never dropped beyond one bar from full, the watch start acts weirdly. 1st, the second hand stops moving “Assuming it is in the save function mode or whatever” but according to the mannual this should not happen, cause at 3 bars of energy it still has one year of functionality! the second and most annoying, is that the hands start moving randomly backwards and forwards to a certain point and then realign again. and this consumes alot of energy so that it starts dropping quickly. in the F900 one more thing is that the hands loses there correct reference very quickly, i.e , if you do check energy, the second hand should point betwen time 12:00 and 6:00, it does sometimes go beyond that. when doing the time sync, the second hand should stop exactly on the RX-TME, it sometimes miss-align.
    Unfortunately from experience, despite being nice watch and great features, it proved to be unreliable.

    • Steven Davison

      My F900 has just gone exactly the same way. Did you get the problem solved? Mine is going back to Citizen.

      • Mustafa Abulrub

        I sent it to Citizen. They called me back caliming it is fixed. I didnt collect it yet but I hope it is. Ill update you later. Please drop me a reminder in case you did not hear back from me. 🙂

        • Steven Davison

          Thank you for your very quick reply. I will do. I will also let you know what happens to mine as I posted it to Citizen UK today.

          • Mustafa Abulrub

            I was there just today, the guy told me that there is a part that needs to be replaced.
            But honestly, now I doubt that Citizen sattelite and GPS watches are of fine quality cause i also have the previous model F100 and it went the same in about the same time. After around 1 or 1.5 years of Use. So it just makes me wonder!

          • Steven Davison

            Thank you very much for the update. My watch is with Citizen UK now so it should be assessed soon. Once it is – I will update you. I expected more reliability. My Astron is much older and has been faultless. If the F100 had a fault that they were aware of then I would have thought that ‘fix’ would be applied already to the F900. Maybe we were unlucky…….

          • Mustafa Abulrub

            Thanks for your reply
            Let’s hope for the best.
            I wish Citizen can listen to this cause if they fail to have this premium model living up to the standards, I doubt they will continue to live more.

          • Steven Davison

            I do hope so. My own opinion is that Citizen have a better assembly quality than Seiko in low to mid end watches. I’d like to maintain that opinion. I’ll let you know how I get on. I hope the watch is returned in the condition that I sent it in.