CITIZEN CALIBRE 2100 Cal. e210
PURCHASED- May 2011
REVIEWED - May 2013
(with full video review at bottom of post)
1. Definitely not the cute Boyfriend Watch that your girlfriend would wear:
If the essence of the male species were to be captured in one watch it would be this brolic, robust chunk of white steel famously known as the Calibre 2100.
The package does indeed carry a lot of heft for it's size. So much so that when you first pick it up it will feel like the weight of its retail price in nickels (that is $595 in nickel coins by the way). But it is a good solid build that you will grow on you and the 2100 is watch that you can wear comfortably all day long whether stuck at an office desk or working in the outdoors all day.
Below are pictures of the 'Panda Face' AV0031-59A Calibre 2100 on my 7 inch wrist.
2. Discussing overall quality:
The design quality is extremely well done and the AV0031-59A can sit between an Omega Speedmaster and a Rolex Submariner a hundred years from today and still look relevant and fresh.
The look of this AV0031-59A is timeless so it is no wonder that Citizen to this very day still flagships this watch on the top of their Calibre Series' USA web page. This is special since it has been 7 years since the AV0031-59A debut back in 2006. That honor is unique to this watch and no other Citizen Calibre series watch has shared this type of longevity to date.
I read an old online article from 2006 stating that the advent of the Calibre 2100 series was one of Citizen's first ventures into using new design principles and better materials (Titanium, Sapphire, etc...) as well as expanding the Eco-Drive technology onto all their watch movements.
By keeping the sub dials simple and using appropriate markers along the outskirts of the dial face Citizen has made the 2100 look more expensive than it is and the watch appears bold and ready to tackle anything. It only looks busy at first glance but at second glance everything on this watch is 'natural' and ordered.
The watch case has an asymmetrical shape ergonomically done to hug the wrist while the watch's round face and dial is symmetrical. The effect is one of stout athleticism.
The hands are all well sculpted and compliment each other with the red skeletal Alarm hand being transparent so as to not get in the way of time reading hands and the chronograph's second hand is a thin silver line for the same reasoning. All the hands anchor at the center while the chronograph second hand extends with its tiny tail past the center anchor to give it a slight flair.
These are 'intelligent' design cues that tell us the creators of this piece took their time and knew very well what they were doing. They took risks and broke a bit of the traditional sports watch design mold while keeping the finish product intelligible and desirable for people who appreciate fine watches for function as well as looks. On the AV0031-59A nothing is out of place and everything is where it should be.
In fact, one doesn't realize how great the AV0031-59A's design is until seeing it's 2011 replacement the AV0050-54A Calibre 2100. Sadly this new version has FAILED to replace the original since the AV0050-54A may be seen today in many a store display window either sold next to, or relegated to sit under, the original AV0031-59A. Citizen also doesn't show this particular watch on their USA website. Lets take a look at what went wrong.
On the AV0050-54A, pictured right below, ALL the sub-dials are clearly overdone with too much information and markings. While this monstrosity does keep much of the original AV0030-59A's dial design the issue here on the AV0050-54A are the fonts and markings are inconsistent and sloppy.
The shape of both the watch case and the watch face are safe and symmetrical but look pudgy in appearance. The dial hands, the crown and the buttons as well as the band are also crudely done and uninspiring.
Compared to the original this newer AV0050-54A just looks like an ordinary watch you buy at a drug store and wear daily because you only need something to tell you it is time for your lunch hour break and nothing more.
Back to the AV0031-59A:
The quality of the AV0031-59A's lume (luminous phosphorescent) on the 2100 is also second to none. It needs only a few seconds of sunlight to glow brightly a partly lit room. The lume is so strong to the point that the lume shines from the watch hands onto parts of the dial. If you need it to shine thru the night just expose it in a few minutes of sunlight the afternoon before and you will wake up the next day with the hands still glowing. I have never seen a better, more consistent, lume.
However, my praise for the AV0030-59A stops short at the design quality. By contrast the build quality is a love/hate relationship for any 2100 owner. The USA/North American market's Stainless Steel/Mineral Crystal AV0031-59A 2100 watches are prone to show visible scratches if you tend wear your watches carelessly. The mineral crystal glass as well as the steel bezel, bracelet and clasp can pick up scratches if you are not careful while wearing this watch.
As you see in the picture below I wrap my stainless steel clasp in clear scotch tape to keep it from scuffing against the edge of my office desk when I'm working long hours at the computer.
The good news here is that Citizen does have several alternative European and Asian market White 'Panda Face' Calibre 2100 versions to choose from. These alternates are identical to the AV0031-59A with the exception that they use better quality materials. First we have the AV0030-60A (also called the AV0030-51A) that has Sapphire crystal on Stainless Steel cases and bands. Then there is the ultra rare AV0020-55A that has Sapphire crystal glass on a polished Titanium Carbide Coating case and band.
For those of us already stuck with an AV0031-59A don't despair. Some North American Citizen Service Centers, at the time of this writing, will replace your AV0031-59A's Mineral Crystal with Sapphire Crystal glass for around $69 to $100 (pricing depends on which center you use, when you use the service and your mailing address).
This upgrade service is NOT a warranty service. Replacement of a scratched or shattered Mineral Crystal glass with the same but new Mineral Crystal glass usually falls under the warranty service. However at the time you are replacing a broken or scratched Mineral Crystal glass UNDER the free warranty they 'may' upgrade to Sapphire for free or at a discounted fee if you ASK.
After using Citizen Service Centers on many occasions since 2006 I find it is always best to call your service center (rather than emailing them). Be as friendly and direct as possible when asking for what you want. Usually they are super friendly and willing to work with you in making you a happy customer.
NOTE that Citizen Service and Warranty terms regarding Mineral crystal replacement or Sapphire crystal upgrades are subject to changes or may cease all together in the future. So what I am writing here is ONLY true at the time of this review (May 2013) and is also only true in North America. I don't live in Asia, Europe or the rest of the world so I cannot say what warranty or service rules apply there.
Another thing which can get scratched but cannot be replaced is the polished bezel ring frame that surrounds the crystal glass.
My service center told me this ring could not be replaced and that they could not (or rather would not) polish the scratches out. So keep that in mind when buying a used 2100. A scratched Mineral crystal glass and scuffed bracelet can easily be replaced but you CANNOT replace a damaged, scuffed or scratched bezel ring.
The good news here is there is an informative discussion thread here on the forums concerning the use of a Cape Cod Cloth to polish scratches and scuffs completely out of shiny finishes on stainless steel watches. From what I read these polishing cloths should restore a scuffed up bezel ring or any other shiny bits of the 2100 right back to brand new condition.
That said, I'm on my second AV0031-59A 2100 watch. My first one purchased in May 2011 immediately got scratched on the glass and face because I had no idea of the sensitivity of the Mineral crystal and I was not careful when wearing this watch. I replaced the Mineral crystal at the Hurley Service Center in Atlanta GA but found out the scratched bezel ring was irreplaceable so I sold that damaged watch off during May 2012 and bought my current 'brand new' AV0031-59A right after.
Since then I've been careful when wearing my new AV0031-59A and I have not had any issue with the Mineral crystal or steel body picking up scrapes, scratches or scuffs so far. After a year of daily wear (with a couple of doorknob and desk edge bangs in that time) my AV0031-59A still looks brand new. See picture right below:
Just be careful with the watch and you will be okay whether you have Mineral or Sapphire or steel or titanium. At the end of the day anything can be scratched and damaged if the wearer is not careful so just be careful.
3. Discussing the 2100's face:
Compared the all the 2100 series the white color panda face dial is by far the easiest to read at a glance. It is the least busy and cleanest in design. There is not much to say. The main hands are hour, minute, and Chronograph's seconds with the red skeletal arrow being the alarm location (when the hour hand enters the red skeletal arrow the alarm chimes). The sub dials are: 3 o'clock sub dial gives the chronograph minutes, the 6 o'clock sub dial is for the time keeping second hand and the 9 o'clock sub dial records the Chronograph's hours (yes you read right this guy's Chronograph records all the way up to 12 hours which is amazing). Finally the massive 12 o'clock sub dial displays the current solar charge situation.
Everything on the face is simple to use and easy understand.
4. Discussing the Calibre E210 functionality:
The e210 movement's main feature is the powerful sweeping fly-back chronograph. Pressing button A starts and pauses the chronograph. Pressing button B, after button A pauses it, resets the chronograph. The chronograph can record up to 12 hours which is a feature unique to this movement.
The e210 movement also has an alarm chime and a date window. It is not perpetual calender movement and will need to be adjusted every month depending on if the month has 31, 30, 28 or 29 days. There is a massive sub dial for power reserve indicator and a passive Tachymeter scale framing the entire face. Everything works as should and all the movements are spot on accurate.
Because of it's ease of use and readability, I have found that the e210 movement is the perfect everyday working watch rather than a specialist watch or a passive dress piece. The chronograph is useful for sporting events, productivity tasks or activities where one is tracking or timing something for periods longer than the basic 60 minute limit your get with regular chronographs. The e210 movement is a perfect compliment to any profession where keeping tabs on activities lasting more than an hour is vital.
For such a simple watch here is a look of what makes it tick on the inside:
The e210 calibre boasts 294 parts all working together to create a beautiful stable movement in a body that will wear well for a long time on your wrist.
5. What I would change:
I have skinny 7" wrists so I am not a big fan of the 2100's steel bracelet. The steel bracelet's linkage is a clunky, chunky and rattly affair. On hot days the steel bracelet can feel cumbersome and often times at the end of a tedious work day I find myself removing this watch to let my wrist breathe and relax. Similar to taking off heavy work boots and putting on flip flops or tennis shoes for the long drive home after work.
I wish the links were closer spaced, a bit wider (24mm instead of 23mm) and slightly thinner (like it is on the BY0000-56L's bracelet). The bracelet on the Calibre 2100 watches are NOT interchangeable with leather/fabric straps or other style metal bracelets.
That said, the one positive here is the bracelet clasp has a 3 range micro adjustment extension or retraction for making the bracelet slightly bigger or smaller. Micro adjustments can easily be done with a pen tip, paper clip, safety pin or similar object.
A major unexpected issue that many first timers will have is with the removable links. Here the 2100 uses the sleeved style pins (see picture below) that make bracelet size adjustment impossible without a proper watch tool (you can easily buy one off eBay from 99 cents and up) or a skilled watch technician nearby (most watch shops or sellers will re-size the bracelet from free to around $5.00).
When adjusting the bracelet and the sleeved pins are pushed out the miniscule sleeves detaches from the pin. These tiny sleeves serve as friction devices holding the pins firmly inside the link holes. Without the sleeves the naked pins will just slide out of the link holes and the bracelet falls apart.
The issue is that once you remove a pin and the sleeve comes off that pin it is impossible (as far as I can tell) to put the tiny sleeve back around the tiny pin without the aid of advanced watch tools. That is if the miniscule sleeve didn't already roll off your table top and vanished out of sight. These sleeves do have a tendency to disappear once you start pushing your pins out.
The ONLY way I found to reuse a naked pin is to bend the pin slightly in the middle so it holds itself in place when inserted back into the linkage hole (see picture right below).
Overall I would have preferred the much easier to use self-locking V (wedge) style pin-see picture below that go in and out of the linkage holes on their own. You can also buy these V Style pins online from as little as a penny each and substitute them in place of the sleeved pins.
Third gripe: For the retail price of $595 I would expect Citizen to use Sapphire Crystal in the USA models. The Mineral Crystal glass will scratch if you are not careful. Also the shiny case back, matte steel bracelet and clasp all pick up bruises and scuffs if you are not careful.
Finally (and this is not my personal gripe but it should be noted here) the Alarm Chime is not loud at all. It is more of a light reminder-chime than a loud, wake-me-up-alarm chime. I didn't buy this for an alarm clock but I expect many souls will see the alarm/chronograph stamped on the box description and plunk down $595 expecting to be awoken from this watch. They will be very disappointed. For me I have a $5 alarm clock in my bedroom and a 99cent alarm clock in my travel kit to wake me up so I don't expect wake up duties to be held by my wrist watch.
6. Final word:
If there is one watch that you will buy in a 10 year period that you will find extremely hard to flip or part with it would be this Panda Face Calibre 2100 series. It is a timeless piece of business in terms of design and performance quality. It is also easy to wear as a day to day watch complimenting every outfit in you wardrobe from business attire to sports wear to beach wear, etc... I've seen scores of wedding pictures with Calibre 2100 Panda Faces clinging to the groom's wrist and I've seen this watch countless of times at the gym. That alone lets you know the 2100 is all about the business and not just about the show.
If you can try to get the Sapphire Crystal AV0030-60A (AV0030-59A) version or call your Service Center to see about the Sapphire Crystal upgrade but that being said I think everyone will be just as happy with the Mineral crystal AV0031-59A.
Also the resale values of a used condition AV0031-59A Calibre 2100 with or without Sapphire are off the scales. These watches keep a decent value even though Citizen USA still carries this very same original panda face 2100 on their website today and you could still buy them everywhere online or your local brick and mortar jewelry store. Still buyers and eBayers hunger after used 2100s as if these watches are rare discontinued items.
Now that tells you when a watch has a good demand value. Get one for yourself and you will happily see what all the fuss is about!
-My video review:
Ron Swanson Approves This Review