CITIZEN CHRONO-TIME A•T Cal. H610
REVIEW - April 2013
(with video reviews at bottom of post)
1. Love at first sight:
I was surprised by the stunning beauty of this watch when I first opened the box. I've heard it said before but it really does look much better in person.
I got the blue face 56L stainless steel version and was expecting a heavy watch but it is lighter and flatter than it appears in the video reviews and pictures. The lightness is mostly due to a thin but durable bracelet and the case housing using thin layers of steel. The bezel is thin as the mineral glass extends all the way to the face's edge. So less steel is used while the real estate is well used to display as much information as possible with no 'blank' zones found anywhere on the watch face.
2. Discussing build quality:
I will actually start by praising the steel bracelet. This is one of the best parts of this watch. Because of the ultra flexible linkage, this bracelet is one of the most comfortable steel bracelets I've worn. The links are tightly bound and hugs your wrist flush with no spacing or pinching. The links are also easy to modify (they use the easy in-and-out v pins and not the hard-to-remove sleeved pins). The bracelet and clasp are also very scratch resistant compared to my Nighthawk and Calibre 2100 bands. Also unlike those heavier bracelets (especially the chunky ones found on the Calibre 2100 series) the relatively light bracelet here can be comfortably worn all day long without feeling cumbersome on your wrist.
I was considering getting the more expensive BY0010-52series titanium version but the steel version here is just as light and durable. Also I realized the USA titanium versions is a big waste of money since they are not Duratect treated and will scratch and wear worse than steel overtime.
I was also concerned that the single locking clasp would not secure firmly compared the double, latched, clasp but it does the job well.
I have NOT had any bad experiences with Citizen's Mineral Crystal easily picking up scratches. For some reason I used to work under the hood of my first car frequently whiles wearing my mineral crystal Nighthawk and over a 7 year period I only got one small hairline scratch on that crystal. That happened while yanking the Alternator off the engine block which also left a gash in my forearm. So for most of you that work and live in normal conditions the Mineral Crystal should be durable enough.
There is an option to get the Titanium BY0010-52series if you really need the Sapphire Crystal but even Sapphire Crystal can scratch just as easily as Mineral Crystal under certain conditions.
You can also contact one of the USA Citizen Service Centers to replace the Crystal. Under warranty they usually replace the crystal for free (or $60 to $80 out of warranty).
Also for a fee ($60 to $100) they do upgrade the Mineral Crystal to Sapphire Crystal if you ask them to. This is only true at the time of me writing this review and it may change or cease all together in the future. Not all service centers offer this upgrade service so call around first.
Overall I really love the appearance of this watch. It stands out in a good way when worn correctly. The polished steel bezel and bracelet trim look classy and expensive.
If I had to buy this watch again I would DEFINITELY buy the steel over the non-Duratect titanium.
3. Discussing the H610's face:
The 2 o'clock sub-dial serves as a 24 hr time indicator. The 11 o'clock sub-dial shows the current solar charge and records the chronograph's minutes. The 6 o'clock sub-dial displays the Time Keeping seconds and also your Atomic Time location when the watch is in Receiving mode. The 4 0'clock date window shows your selected choice from a list of 26 cities with the current date.
The tiny red markings NO RX H M L between the 11 and 1 o'clock markers give the atomic time information when the lower button is pressed.
The red markings ON •ALM• OFF on either side of the 2 o'clock indicates if the alarm is on or off during the alarm set mode when the crown is pulled out two clicks.
Between the 7 and 9 o'clock markers, the red markings AU •SMT• MA and AU •STD• MA here indicate the current daylight savings setting during the time set mode when the crown is pulled out on click.
The white numerical bezel markings are all to do with the slide rule.
4. Discussing the Calibre H610 functions:
The BY000-56series ONLY looks intimidating but basically this watch does three things.
1. Time keeping/Alarm - simple to set and easy to use. One click outwards of the main crown allows you to set the current city and when that is done everything else self adjusts to match your time zone. You can also use the two upper and lower buttons to manually set the time. Alarm is set with two crown clicks out and by turning the crown. With the crown out two clicks the buttons turn on, turn off and confirms the alarm chime. The calender, once set, is perpetual.
2. Chronograph/Slide Rule - simple to grasp. In Time Mode the upper button starts and ends chronograph. Lower button resets it. The lone crown at the 8 o'clock works the slide rule inner bezel.
3. Atomic Time Keeping - Automatic Receiving happens every night sometime between 1 AM and 5 AM. I've had several atomics come thru my collection over the years and this one is of the better ones when it comes to ease of use and having a strong appetite for receiving updates automatically (Citizen usually makes good atomics).
Manual Receiving is as easy as HOLDING DOWN the lower button for 3 seconds to start Receiving. PRESSING the lower button checks when the last signal was received and also shows the current charge level. I have experiences with other Atomic watches (notably Casio Protreks) where the Manual Receiving is a tricky process. Here on the H610, as a credit to Citizen, it is simple and easy to use and the radio antenna is very strong and capable.
Generally Atomic Time Receiving will be hit or miss for you depending more on where you live less so than the quality of the watch. Myself being in New York (right at the 1,900 mile radius from the Fort Collins, CO source) I never had good experiences with Atomic Time Receiving on watches since the signal starts dying at 600 miles out from the source and completely dies out from 2,000+ miles out. So whether you get a proper signal or not is a critique of where you live and not the watch itself.
That is the entire description of this watch. It is simple, brilliant and everything works in harmony.
I'm finding the h610 movement as compared to other calibre movements to be one of the most complete movements yet used on an eco-drive watch. You get multi band radio, perpetual calender, 26 time zones, alarm, chrono, date, all in one body. But the real beauty is that ALL THE FEATURES are easy to access and easy to manipulate or adjust. Because of the automatic radio updates you really never have to bother with the time keeping and time zone features since they set themselves based on your location.
5. What I would change:
The first thing I would change on this time piece is to swap out the 24hr sub-dial for a day of the week indicator. For me personally this is more of a feature for feature swap since days-of-the-week would be useful for me (being a non-military/non-traveling American) than a 24 hr indicator. I guess the 24 hr dial will eventually come in handy for me when traveling in Europe this summer.
Also, to piggyback on the h610 features, I'm finding perpetual calender on a radio watch is a redundant feature. The watch radio updates the time and calender every night so it really doesn't make sense (at least to me) for a perpetual calender to be on this watch.
The second gripe I have is the chronograph flyback is slow to reset back to 0. My Calibre 2100 has instant flyback of the chrono hands. Here it slowly sweeps back to the 0 position which sucks when you are trying to time multiples things. Setting the alarm time is also tediously slow because the hands must first slowly sweep back to the position of the current alarm setting before you can reset it to a new alarm time. This can literally take minutes to do.
My final and biggest issue is a hardware design flaw. The main crown wheel is loose and tend spins freely even when it is in the closed (pushed all the way in) position. The connection between the crown, crown stem and case seems to be very frail. The crown itself is a flat disk that sits off centered on the case rim-wall (see picture below). Because of this the bottom edge of the crown wheel extends below the bottom of the case where it sticks out. This design makes the already loose crown stick out leaving the poor thing susceptible to snagging on clothing or other wrist jewelry.
It does feel that it will break right off if pulled hard. I would have made the crown centered on the case wall and smaller with a fatter stem connection and tighter spin. In fact, I've seen lots of used BY0000-56L and 56E watches on eBay being sold with missing crowns.
Now I know why:
6. Final word:
My first Eco-Drive 10 years ago was a SS Nighthawk (BJ7000-52E) which is said to be one of the best, if not the best, watch that Citizen has ever designed in terms of simplicity, practically, durability and looks. Since my Nighthawk I've had several Citizens most notably the Calibre 2100 (AV0031-59A) and the Calibre 9000 (BL9002-02A Minute Repeater).
This BY0000-56E is right up there with those classics. It is a timeless piece that will wear well and look fresh for the next 20 to 100 years.
-My video intro:
-My video review:
-A video demo of the H610 Calibre operation: