After hanging out in /f9 on WUS, I began to read a lot about the history of electronic watches (including the book Electrifying the Wristwatch by Trueb, et al.). This reading, and the people in /f9 and /f21, inspired me to finally buy a high accuracy/end quartz watch.
Naturally, I had some requirements. Namely, I wanted:
A high quality watch
A high accuracy, by quartz standards, movement
A versatile watch that was neither too dressy nor too technical looking
A watch that had interesting features or complications, aside from the accuracy
In the end, I chose to buy a Citizen AQ1030.
In addition to the AQ1030, I also considered the AQ1030’s stable-mates: The Chronomaster, the AQ1000, AQ1010, AQ1020 and AQ1034. I briefly thought about a Junghans but decided that the aesthetics were not for me. I also considered a Grand Seiko quartz as well as a couple of radio-synchronized Citizen Exceeds and a radio-synchronized Casio Oceanus. After thinking it over, I decided that an intrinsically accurate HAQ watch was more interesting to me, for this purchase, than a radio (or GPS) synchronized watch. I have no doubt that I will purchase an Exceed or an Oceanus in the future.
As a current owner of a Grand Seiko, I seriously considered buying a quartz GS model. In the end, though, I wanted something different and I preferred the features of the Citizen competition. Specifically, the Citizens offered slightly better rated accuracy, a longer warrantee, an independent hour hand and a perpetual calendar. Moreover, the AQ series also offered solar recharging, “hand alignment” (an anti-shock compensation), a fully (over the top?) jeweled movement and a larger case size. Nevertheless, the Citizen HAQ watches have a style very similar to the Seiko Grammar of Design – the look of which I am fond.
Choosing among the Citizens was more difficult. I decided that the Chronomaster, although the most beautiful of the HAQs, was a little too small and I didn’t like the idea of a disposable battery. I also decided that the AQ1000 was a little too small and the hands were narrow and lacked luminescence. I decided against the AQ1020 because of the cost for the titanium – a feature that doesn’t really interest me. Although the AQ1030 lacks the prettier bracelet of the AQ1010, I actually liked the crown guards and slightly larger size of the AQ1030. I also preferred the simpler, flat, dial found on the AQ1030 versus the textured dial of the AQ1010. The dark DLC bezel of the AQ1034 variant, likewise, did not interest me. The AQ1030 is not as dressy as the other models in the lineup, but for me, this is perfectly fine – I find it a handsome watch.
After consulting with several of you, I ordered an AQ1030 from Higuchi Katsuisha. He responded to my direct email quickly, the price was fair and the watch arrived seven business days after transferring the money by PayPal.
The watch fits comfortably and arrived with about a quarter of a charge. The pin/collar bracelet was easy to adjust (no fine adjustment). Furthermore, the second hand seems to hit darn-near perfectly on the markers.
I wanted to thank WUS members GlennO, Artec, Everose, Nokie, Xtratomic, Chris01, South Pender, clarencek, GregNYC, CitizenM, dicioccio, Catalin, Andrew McGregor, Orex and ljb187 for their useful posts and advice. Thanks also to /f9 moderators ronaldheld and Eeeb for keeping the /f9 forum such a great place to learn.
UPDATE: I have received a few questions, so let me add them here:
Lume: The watch is lumed with strips on the hands and laid between the ridges of the hour markers. The lume shines a green color and is quite bright. For comparison, the lume is not as bright as my Omega Seamaster, Citizen Signature Automatic or Maratec pilot but is a little brighter than my Omega Speedmaster Professional and much brighter than my Nomos Tangente Sport.
Power Reserve Meter: The PR meter is not terribly offensive. Similar to what GlennO said in his AQ1010 review, I appreciate an uncluttered dial but at least the PR meter is a "functional" clutter rather than "advertising" clutter. The quality of the PR meter is not as high as on my Grand Seiko (which has more detailed texturing and perfectly cut metal index marks on the ends of the arc) but the GS is more than twice as expensive as the AQ. Rather, the AQ's PR meter looks similar to the newer, simpler styled, Grand Seikos and uses a clear printed index with some slight textured concentric lines for depth. I am still not convinced of the value of a PR meter on an Eco-Drive, which has a very long power reserve, but if it helps me monitor the health of the rechargeable battery then I'll consider it as an advantage. Unlike the Spring Drive Seikos, the needle is at the top of the display to indicate "full".
Size: After sizing the bracelet, the watch weighs 119 grams. Lug-to-lug: 47mm, 9 o'clock-to-crown: 43.5mm, 9:30 o'clock to the crown guard: 41.5mm, 10 o'clock-to-4 o'clock: 40.35mm, outer bezel edge diameter: 39mm, crystal diameter: 32.5mm and thickness: 10.5mm