I’ll preface this thread by saying that I don’t have much experience with high end Japanese quartz watches (I own just two Seiko quartz Tunas) and virtually no experience with Citizen watches. I can thus only provide my impressions of this watch without comparisons to similar watches such as Grand Seiko’s HAQ line.
I initially was intrigued by Grand Seiko’s HAQ watches, so I’d routinely browse SeiyaJapan’s offerings, finding a few GS watches that seemed like likely candidates. I wanted an elegant, versatile blue watch that would reliably tell the time with very little fuss; a HAQ watch seemed to be the ideal choice. I decided on the GS SBGX265, a blue dialed watch that seemed to fit my criteria.
One day, while browsing Seiya’s offerings as per my routine, I checked the Citizen section on a whim.
Scrolling to the bottom, I found The Citizen AQ4041 (I still find it hard to remember Citizen’s model name’s unlike Seiko or Casio) and was immediately drawn to its angular case and its slightly lighter and vivid shade of blue, which seemed more striking compared to the GS SBGX265.
Upon receiving the watch, I was immediately surprised by its dial radiance. In Seiya’s store photos, the AQ4041 appears to have a subtler, darker dial color. In person, the AQ4041 gives a more pronounced sunburst effect, the intensity of which depends on the lighting. Wearing the watch outdoors and on a sunny day, I couldn’t help but admire how the dial plays with the light. With the twist of my wrist, the dial sparkles and flashes a brilliant light blue, and the dial markers add both depth and additional surfaces for reflected light. The sunburst dial and markers come alive, making the watch quite a visual treat but not obnoxiously so. Lastly, the ivory white Chronomaster text adds a bit of pop, contrasting nicely against the blue dial.
One of my favorite design elements of the Citizen AQ4041 are the angular case edges. They remind me of the polished sides of one of my old favorite watches, the Seiko SBDX001 Marinemaster. Along the AQ4041’s lugs, and underneath the case, these polished areas play with the light and give the case a subtle pop. I think the angular edges also give the watch a slightly bolder look, giving the watch a slightly less dressy appearance compared to the AQ4041’s rounder counterparts.
The bracelet has a somewhat polarizing design. Two screws on either side of the links lock the links in place, thereby creating a more secure bracelet. In fact, the representative at the Citizen boutique in Times Square NY had difficulty sizing the bracelet. He had to get a watch case holder in order to properly remove the screws from either end. By the way, I did not buy my Citizen at the boutique, but the gentleman there was kind enough to size my watch for free!
Even though I am a fan of oyster-style bracelets, I like the AQ4041’s jubilee-like bracelet. I don’t even know what to call this bracelet. Some may argue that the bracelet makes the watch look a little more visually busy. I find that the bracelet design sets the watch apart from more conservative dress watches, giving it a more versatile design. Each link is held together by three smaller chains. These mirror finish chains are juxtaposed well against the brushed finished links. A minor downside to the bracelet is that the clasp lacks micro-adjustment holes. If you have a strangely shaped wrist like mine, then it might take some effort to get the perfect fit, a process of trial and error. Mine is sized a bit looser than I’d like, but the less-than-snug fit lets the watch fit comfortably when my wrist swells a bit. Since the watch and bracelet are titanium, the watch overall feels smooth on the wrist, wears thin enough to wear under cuffs, and feels so light that the watch seems invisible at times. With a case width of about 38.3 mm and a lug width of 20 mm, the Citizen is ideal for my 6.5" wrists: not too large and not too small.
I have worn my Citizen fairly frequently over the past few weeks and have found barely visible hairline scratches on the polished bezel. There are no discernible marks on the bracelet or clasp. The Duratect coating has held well, and I think that this watch should resist minor scratches and daily wear. That said, I wouldn't go around bashing it against random abrasive surfaces.
I’ve always admired Citizen’s “The Citizen” line from afar, but I never thought that I’d be compelled enough to pick one up, especially when Seiko’s Grand Seiko line is so beloved by our community. I spent many days debating the merits of a Seiko GS over The Citizen, scouring the Internet for any reviews on Citizen’s high end HAQ line, but in the end, this watch and its beautiful design won me over. I just went with my gut, and sometimes that’s all we need in this crazy hobby of ours. As a recent owner of The Citizen, I have found that this Citizen has exceeded my expectations. The Citizen AQ4041 embodies the Japanese philosophy of craftsmanship -- incredible attention to detail and a harmonious balance of restraint and boldness.
I hope that my impressions can help others take the plunge and try out a Citizen Chronomaster; I have found that it’s well worth it. By the way, I have been wearing my watch fairly frequently for about a month now, and as of today, it is still perfectly synced to atomic time with no seconds lost or seconds gained. I'm no accuracy nut, but I am extremely impressed.
One last shout out to Sakura watches, which is where I purchased my Citizen. I am grateful for their business