I have now had my Citizen Nighthawk for close to two months so this review will be slightly different from a conventional review, hopefully a bit more balanced. I wont run through features like what a nice back it has and how smooth the crown does or does not feel. Instead I will try and describe my experiences and how I like it and how it makes me feel. Hopefully it can help someone decide if this is the watch for them.
I first spotted this watch in Thailand while on a business trip. At that time I had a Longines Hydroconquest Quartz Chronograph. I had had the Longines as my only watch for close to six years. It was a very nice watch but it did not do everything I wanted and did not go with the range of clothes I wore. I decided I would sell it, and with the proceeds, purchase a few cheaper but nevertheless distinctive watches that I could wear and match with different clothing. Maybe its part of a mid life crisis that I feel I need to become a bit more stylish dresser.
One of the things I never like about the Hydroconquest was how busy the dial was. Much of the dial was brushed steel and the hands were polished steel and this made the dial less clear and hard to read. It was also a very heavy watch with a very sharp edge on the crown that would always dig uncomfortably into the top of my hand. Because it was so heavy (approx 250g) it would get extremely cold and uncomfortable in a very cold environment like the snow.
I had always loved pilot style watches and began looking at Orient Flights, Lacos, Steinharts and Aristos. I also looked at a few dive watches like the Seiko Orange Monster. My requirement was a watch large in diameter and easy to read, but also something with a leather strap.
Bangkok has a huge watch scene and some massive stores so I had a lot of fun window shopping.
I found some Orients but in the wrong colour combination and an Orange Monster and some interesting Issey Miyakey. Then in the last shopping complex close to store closing time I stumbled upon the first of my new watches (this PVD Nighthawk), quite by mistake. I entered this store looking for and and Orient with a black dial and spotted this amazing black beauty. It was everything I did not want, black PVD, a busy dial, a steel band, quartz, yet it grabbed my imagination and looked stunning when I put it on my wrist.
The prices in Bangkok were at least 30% higher than online prices so I waited till I got back to Australia and had sold the Longines. On the way I reconfirmed in the airport duty free area that I really really liked the watch and it hadnt just been an impulsive thing. Just there I also got a chance to try on the SS version as well as some IWC Big Pilots.
The black was certainly far more spectacular than the SS and the IWCs confirmed that I needed the dial to be as large as possible on a pilot watch like only Laco do. The Laco is a different story. I also ended up getting two Lacos and posted reviews on Watchuseek.
Anyway back to the Nighthawk. I eventually sold the Longines and got the money and purchased the watch from Creation. It was a bad decision because not only did I discover a few hours later that I had paid $70 more than Skywatches but the watch arrived with a scratched crystal. Creation watches has such a rotten return policy that I just did not want to bother paying over $70 (insured) to return the watch.
Anyway I decided to keep it. The watch was very beautiful but of course the scratches bothered me. They are very fine and hard to see but nevertheless I felt cheated on two accounts.
Anyway this soured my feelings towards the watch and on a few occasions over the next two months I would go from loving it to wanting to sell it.
When I loved it the watch to me had a beautifully intricate dial; an amazing case shape; stealth looks; amazing technology and the only quartz movement where the second hand actually moves precisely to line up with each second marker around the dial. Even the Longines did not do this.
When doubts would creep in the things that made me feel bad about it was the cheap looking and tapering bracelet that was always either too loose or too tight; the bad reflections on the glass, the very very busy dial, the slide rule feature that was totally redundant to me and the seeming whiteness of the glass. This whiteness is because in most lighting situations it is very reflective. Of course the scratches did not help either.
Finally I decided I would try it with a leather strap and would try to replace the mineral crystal with Sapphire from Yobokies. If it still was not good at least I would have a unique watch with some added value to it and might get most of my money back. I bought a black and a red strap both from Ebay. The black strap was only $10 and looks amazing. It it very stiff and feels a bit like it was from stock also used to make drum brake linings but it is actually comfortable to wear.
Changing from the PVD steel bracelet to the black stitched leather strap has completely transformed the look of the watch. It now all of a sudden looks cool.
I have to tried to understand why this is so and I believe it is because the leather strap does not flow into the case like the integrated steel strap does. It makes the case look like a visually separate object from the strap. This sets off the angles and curves of the case beautifully. In a funny way it also draws the eye to the very dished shape of the dial. In my view it has turned a really nice watch into something that looks truly spectacular.
My next move is to try the red strap but even more importantly the sapphire. I hear that is slightly curved and has AR coating on the inside. I am hoping this will make the dial stand out more sharply and reflect less.
Here is a link to someone who has done the swap.
I have also recently used the slide rule feature. It is actually a standard E6B aviation slide rule not something Citizen dreamt up. It used to be used by pilots before the advent of digital computers.
Here is a guide to how it is used
Now that I have used it a bit this feature no longer seems redundant and actually feels cool.
I am not sure how common my feelings of buyers remorse are. I am glad I did not act in haste and sell it. When I was younger I might just have done so.
I am now certain I do not want to sell this watch. In fact I truly love it. I know that because I am now not making excuses not to wear it.
The watch has always been unique and very good looking. Now with the leather strap I feel it represents an amazing watch bargain. I might sell the steel PVD bracelet because it does nothing for the watch.
Anyway here is an obligatory image of the back of the watch.
and what it looked like with the black PVD bracelet sitting in my collection.