Model: Eco-Drive World Perpetual A-T
Model Number: CB0010-53L
Movement: Japanese H144 quartz
“Trust me, this won’t hurt...don’t worry about it, nothing’s going to happen...it’s not going to cost you a single penny, it’s free...you don’t have to do anything, it’s does everything by itself.”
Yeah, right. How many times have you heard those kinds of statements in life? I know I’ve heard them dozens of times and I never believe them. In fact, more often than not, the outcome is quite the contrary to the original statement. I’ve earned the experience to be quite a skeptic. So, when I heard about watches that were zero-maintenance, I had my doubts and was not convinced.
On my cursory research, there were only two affordable mainstream brands that offer maintenance-free watches, Casio and Citizen. More specifically, there are several Casio models from the G-shock, Giez and Edifice lines with solar/atomic/perpetual features. All met the functional requirements, exceeded the tough shock factors but fell short on clean dial aesthetics.
Citizen offers their AT, JY and CB model series. All share the following core features that bring maintenance-free possibilities to life: eco-drive, perpetual calendar and atomic time synchronization. The AT chrono and JY Skyhawk series had very busy dials. The last remaining series was the CB world series. All models within this series had relatively simple dials. However, one particular version stood out. The CB0010-53L model was the clear choice. The key giveaway on this model was the striking blue dial with world city codes placed inside the chapter ring rather than on the outside bezel, further cleaning up the look.
The blue colored dial is tastefully done and at certain angles with the right light, it’s quite dramatic. Upon closer inspection, you’ll discover additional details. The dial has two shades of blue. The inner center seems to be a translucent blue with very subtle lines that radiate from the center outward to each of the hour indices. Within this space, there are two reference labels. The atomic sync status label spans concentrically from the 8 o’clock to 10 o’clock indices while the SMT (summertime or daylight savings) label sits between the 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock indices. The only item that interrupts the translucent perimeter is the date window at the 3 o’clock position. This center portion is encircled by a solid blue ring that is as wide as the hour indices that occupy it. Each hour indice is lumed and has delicate chrome accents on each side. It’s very easy to miss but when it catches the right light, you’ll get a nice little reflective glint. The same chrome accent is applied around the perimeter of each of the lumed sword hands. The hands reach out progressively from the center with the hour hand living within the translucent center, the minute hand just reaching across the solid border and the white seconds hand meeting each tip of the sharp white minute/second marks spot on. Surrounding all of this is a blue chapter ring with each of the 26 three-letter city codes in a white font. Finally, it’s all capped off with a non-reflective sapphire crystal and brushed bezel. Overall, the handsome blue dial is modestly stylish, informative, layered with delicate design details and visually clutter-free.
The stainless steel bracelet is mainly brushed with a thin polished stripe running down the center. It connects to the case body at the odd size of 23mm then tapers down to 20mm at the double-fold over clasp. It’s a secure clasp, quite comfortable and quiet.
The predominantly brushed finished case body is 43mm in diameter (45mm with the crown), approximately 46mm in lug-to-lug height and 10mm thick. There are some finer polished sections on the underside of the case body and on the outer perimeter of the bezel. The brushed case back is laser engraved with the eco-drive logo and several specs including WR10 bar, serial numbers and the H144 Japanese quartz movement. On the outside of the case, there are two recessed buttons, one located at the 2 o’clock and the other at 4 o’clock. The 2 o’clock button is used for several setting/resetting functions while the 4 o’clock button is mainly for the atomic function.
The watch can sync with four regional atomic clocks around the world: US, Germany, China and Japan. Each of the stations cover a wide geography, but are still limited to the northern hemisphere. So, for those living below the equator, this feature is not as compelling. Every night, the watch automatically syncs with the atomic clock at three pre-programmed intervals: 2am, 3am and 4am. If it fails to sync at 2am, it will retry at 3am and so forth. Citizen recommends to point the crown toward the atomic station for optimal reception. Mine is placed on a watch stand in the bedroom that doesn’t have any windows facing the atomic station in Fort Collins, CO. Despite this, it still syncs. In the three months or so of owning this watch, the time has been dead accurate nearly every day. In the very unlikely possibility that the watch fails to sync for an entire month, it will still perform within typical quartz parameters of +/- 15 seconds per month.
To confirm the sync, a single press of the 4 o’clock recessed button will spin the seconds hand to either “OK” (sync successful) or “NO” (sync not successful) on the sync status label momentarily. By pressing and holding the same button for about 2-3 seconds, you will manually initiate synchronization, the seconds hand will spin to “RX” on the label and the watch enters receive mode for the atomic time/date signal. Of the two, time is the most likely item to be adjusted. More specifically, it’ll only be the seconds since the minutes and hours will not deviate to the point of requiring adjustment. As for the date, the atomic correction seems to be somewhat superfluous. After all, the calendar on the watch is perpetual (or automatic) and programmed to the year 2100, so it will automatically advance the date on months shorter than 31 days. However, I’m guessing that there may be circumstances where it may prove useful. For example, date correction by the atomic clock would happen if the watch stayed in total darkness for more than the two year power reserve. Or, maybe if you travel to a different atomic region. Actually, that doesn’t make sense, since you’ll be using the world time function and that will change the atomic band selection and it will receive the date from that particular atomic clock. So, other than when the watch is absolutely dead, I really can’t think of any real-world situations where the atomic sync would adjust the date on the watch.
The Eco-Drive feature is Citizen’s marque technology. The Eco-Drive system utilizes photovoltaic cells to convert natural or artificial light to electrical energy to drive the H144 quartz movement and deliver additional energy to the rechargeable battery for use as a back-up power source. The Eco-Drive system has worked flawlessly thus far. Then again, I’ve only had this watch for about three months, which is still well within the 6 month “total darkness” power reserve. If the power level does get low, the seconds hand will jump every two seconds as an indicator. If it isn’t recharged for a prolonged period, the watch will then enter a power saving mode where it will cease displaying the time/date, but will still keep the time/date internally for up to two years. So, as long as the watch is not stored long-term in total darkness, it will continue to operate for years on end.
If you’re not the traveling type, the world time function may have minimal appeal. However, even if you travel to a neighboring time zone, the feature can prove useful. With a simple pull of the crown, the seconds hand becomes a city selector. Turning the crown in either direction will spin the seconds hand around the perimeter of the chapter ring to each of the 26 three-letter world city codes and simultaneously adjust the hour and date (if applicable) for the selected city. This action will also trigger a change in the atomic band selection to match up with that region. Personally, I don’t travel much but do visit family in New York. So, when leaving Los Angeles, a few clicks around the dial will set the watch quickly and easily. If you’re a globetrotter, this feature will be a boon for you.
The watch does wear a bit larger than the 43mm case spec. Chalk that up to the discreet bezel. On my skinny, flat 57mm wrist width, the 46mm lug-to-lug case size covers my entire top wrist with just barely a touch of lug overhang. This hits my upper limit for size preferences. For practically everyone else, this size should be manageable.
The lumed hour indices, minute and hour hands work reasonably well. With a strong charge in the late evening, it will last until dawn...but just barely. I’m spoiled with Timex Indiglo where its “lume” is bright no matter when you use it. This is probably the only real detraction to the watch. If this watch had Indiglo, I’d be truly perfect for me.
There are many non-quartz mechanical watches that offer more of an emotional connection or romantic notion of sorts. But as we all know, those types of relationships require attention and can be “needy” at times. This Citizen watch is perhaps the furthest thing from that. With eco-drive, you’ll never need to replace the battery. With the perpetual calendar, you’ll never need to adjust the date. With atomic synchronization, you’ll never need to adjust the time. It’s damn near maintenance-free. In other words, “You don’t have to do anything, it’s does everything by itself.” Really.
Here's the video review: