My Signature Flyback Chrono arrived this evening, just as I was leaving for dinner. A few minutes later, and I would have missed the delivery. I'm back now, and have been studying the watch for about an hour, and my first impressions are that Citizen has hit a home run with this watch. I ordered the steel with black dial on crocodile strap with red stitching. (AV1000-06E).
The packaging goes well beyond the green cylinder we all know from Citizen. It is a series of nested blue boxes, with a very nice inner blue leatherette box lined in velvet and a cushion holding the watch. A slot in the outer box holds a blue leatherette wallet with the warranty and instructions and the mini CD. The outside of the inner box is embossed with the Signature "Screaming Chicken" crest, as is the inner lid of the inner box. The overall effect is to announce that this is a "quality watch."
The first thing you notice about the clarity of the crystal. Whatever AR process Citizen uses, it is one of the best I have seen. The flat sapphire crystal appears not to be there. There are simply no reflections at all. It is quite impressive.
The textured black dial is very beautiful. Despite the many hands and indicators, the dial appears quite easy to read. Functions not in use recede into the background, and it is easy to tell the time at a glance. The dial details are perfectly executed. The lume appears to be quite bright, upon an initial inspection. The numbers on the twenty-four hour indicator at the top of the dial are small, but can still be readily distinguished. Also, the date indicator is slightly recessed, sitting below the surface of the dial, but still quite readable.
The case is also beautifully finished with a mixture matte and polished surfaces. The multi-sided tachy bezel gives the case visual interest. The case back is engraved with the usual information, and a deeply etched "Screaming Chicken" crest. The case is large and substantial, but not really heavy or massive. The strap is a well made, gently padded crocodile strap with red stitching, which picks up the the red chrono function hands. The single fold deployant is one of the best I have seen. However, the strap is 23 mm at the lugs and 19 mm at the buckle. This odd sizing works well, but it also means that future straps will have to come from Citizen or will be custom made. All in all, a beautifully executed appearance. The overall impression is similar to that of the Ebel of 1911 BTR Chrono, a watch I admire a great deal (and don't own) but which costs seven to eight times the Signature Flyback.
For those with a 2100 Caliber Chrono, on which the movement in the Signature Flyback is based, will appreciate how nicely the chrono on this watch works. The quartz-based mechanically implemented chrono mechanism (discussed at length on this board) works very well. The chrono hand moves in 1/5 second intervals in a nice, even mechanical manner. The "click" of the chrono buttons is clear and decisive, and very satisfying, much more so than some of my purely mechanical chronos. I attribute this feeling of satisfaction to the pillar or column wheel used in the chrono. The reset is instantaneous.
The alarm is adequately loud, and based on one use to test it, goes off within one minute of the time set. However, the crown used to set the alarm at the 8:00 position is hard to manipulate with the right hand while the watch is worn on the left wrist. I have a feeling that I will be taking off the watch to set the alarm.
I opted for the Flyback Chrono over the Grand Complication because it has two features I like: a twenty-four hand and an alarm. Also, I already own a Caliber 9000 watch with a minute repeater and perpetual calendar. I went for the strap version because I like straps and I like black dials. Also, I like gold watches and I like steel watches. But I don't like steel watches with gold trim, and the model I bought met my criteria.
I purchased the watch sight unseen, based on pictures on the Internet, from a dealer who is not local. I can return the watch unused if I don't like it. Will I? Hell no! If you or a friend are looking for a new chrono in the $1,000 to $1,500 price range, you could not do better than the Signature Flyback, regardless of marque or country of origin. (Retail on my model is $1,195, and the AD was having a sale.) In fact, if you like chronos (who doesn't), if you like Citizen, or if you like great watches, then save up, stop eating, or sell a kidney to get this watch.
Citizen has packed a lot of technology, engineering, and fine watchmaking into the Signature line, if the Flyback Chrono is any evidence. We all know that Citizen has some fine watches in Japan, like the Exceed and Chronomaster, that don't get to the United States. The Campanola watches are beautiful, but too elaborate for many people and not really to my taste. It seems that with the Signature line, Citizen has come up with the horological equivalent of Lexus or Acura, a luxury line with lots of useful engineering and first rate quality that competes with some fo the best. COA and Laurence Grunstein deserve credit for bringing these watches to the US.
I have only a pocket digital camera, and I'm not a great photographer either. However, I will try to get some pictures up in the next few days.