Skyhawk issues / alternatives?
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  1. #1
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    Skyhawk issues / alternatives?

    Hi,

    I asked about this in the Affordable Watches forum and was directed here.

    I really like the idea of having one of the Citizen Skyhawks but there are some off-putting things that I've found after researching it for the past few weeks:-

    - Backlight only available in time mode. In chronograph mode for example, the button that would be the backlight does something else.
    - Date is in American format, I'm a Brit, it would get irritating. I'd be alright with this if this was some 10 watch, but its isn't. However, I'd probably only wear this watch when travelling rather than daily so perhaps I could deal with it.
    - Date shows home date, and not local date when you've configured the watch for a different time zone. Since I'd mainly use this watch when travelling this would get annoying I think.

    Now, none of these things by themselves would necessarily put me off but together they add up.

    Are there any other watches out there that come close to this Citizen range in providing the features of the Skyhawk?
    Is Citizen likely to ever update this model?
    Can anyone comment on the issues above, are there any workarounds or something that I've misunderstood, some of them seem like pretty dumb oversights.
    Anything else I should know?

    Thank you,

    M.

    Edit: Sorry I realise I posted this in reviews now
    Last edited by mitosan; September 3rd, 2015 at 16:39.

  2. #2
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    Re: Skyhawk issues / alternatives?

    I love my Skyhawks. I have three, a standard stainless model, and Red Arrows model and an older previous generation titanium model (no backlight or RC sync).

    I agree with your observed issues:

    - Backlight only in some modes. Many a time I have hit the "backlight" button only to hear a beep as I start the chrono. An added negative is that when in chrono/timer modes the watch will not do a radio sync. Also I might want to use the chrono in the dark and can't really do that without an external light source (minor but still a failing).

    - Date in American format (i.e. mm/dd/yy), this used to be an issue for me as I have always been used to the proper format (dd/mm/yy). Unfortunately we have three formats on the loose in Canada these days. The British and for most part Canadian dd/mm/yy, the horrid American format, and now the SI format, which I now prefer, yyyy/mm/dd or yyyy-mm-dd. I like this format because a full date & time stamp is yyyy/mm/dd h:m:s logically going from largest to smallest. As I use the SI date when dating documents, I have gotten used to the mm/dd on the watch, accepting it as an abbreviation of the full SI date, not the convoluted American date. As a matter of interest the American format comes about as an abbreviation of say todays date written out as September 4, 2015 to 9/4/2015. I also prefer the SI approach which is 2015/09/04 (also note the leading zeros). I have seen SI dates written as 12/09/04, but that just adds to the potential confusion as a date written that way could mean 12 th. of September 1904 (or any other century), 12 th. of September 2004, December 9th. 2004, or September 4, 2012. That said, and it was inevitable, but I have seen an odd yyyy/dd/mm show up once somewhere, which just makes me shake my head (American SI?).

    - The U600 caliber used in the Skyhawk has the date flaw you mentioned. Several other variants on the Skyhawk, such as various JDM only Exceed, Attesa and Promaster models use the U680 variant that fixes the date problem and also adds the China RC radio towers for syncing. The very busy dial Navihawk AT available in the UK, uses the U680.

    Another disadvantage is that RC watches are only truly useful in North America, Europe, Japan and SE China as these are the only locations that have radio towers with atomic time signals, but this affects all RC watches, not just the Skyhawk. While GPS watches solve this problem, there are no ana-digi GPS watches so far.

    Advantages:

    - Despite the complex dial, the dial is still easy to read for a quick glance at the time.
    - Strong and persistent lume somewhat compensates for the backlight issues, as the backlight is not really needed to check the time in the dark (although alternate time zone information still requires the backlight).
    - User definable time zone allows you to add missing full, hour and hour time zones around the world (there are only something like 29 built-in time zones out of 40 around the world). Out of the nine watches that I have with built-in time zones only 4 would work in Newfoundland, our easternmost province that is on a hour time zone - my two Skyhawk ATs, my G-Shock which has that time zone built in, and my Seiko Astron which recognizes all 40 time zones and automatically adjusts to the local time zone via multiple satellite triangulation.

    For alternatives to the Skyhawk, I have several ana-digis that solve some of the problems, but add other issues:

    Casio Protrek
    Click image for larger version.

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    The light is operated via a separate button, and even has a position sensitive switch (if you turn your wrist so that the watch is at 45 degrees to the vertical/horizontal the light will come on automatically (feature can be turned off). The negative is that the light washes the dial in light, but does not backlight the digital display. Added features include compass, altimeter, barometer and temperature readings (you need to take the watch off wrist to get an accurate ambient temperature). RC synching is not as consistent as any of my Citizens. While not quite a full on G-Shock appearance, still not as classy as the Skyhawk.

    Casio G-Shock
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    Light is similar to Protrek. Similar downside to the light. There is no seconds hand (only digital display of seconds). Same RC synching performance as the Protrek. G-Shock is functional, but not a classy watch.

    Breitling Airwolf
    Click image for larger version.

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    A classy looking watch. Has pretty much all the features of the Skyhawk. Has three time zone feature: T1 digital, which also drives the analogue hands, T2 (not sure if you can swap T1 & T2 - need to go read up the manual) and UTC. T2 can be used for different time zones, but must be manually set, as there are no built-in time zones. Backlight of digital displays (upper and lower) is achieved by pressing the crown in. Spinning the crown brings up the other modes (alarm, Alarm T2, chrono, timer, etc.). It is not an RC watch, but uses a Thermocompensated Super Quartz movement. Mine is currently running at 3 seconds fast per year (the Skyhawk will run at 10-15 seconds a month if not synchronized daily). Also not solar, but just recently replaced the supposedly 2-3 year battery after 4 years! It has an end-of-life warning (that ran for over 3 weeks - just no backlight or alarm, while I was waiting for my watch repair lady to get the battery in), and a feature where you can put the watch in a sleep mode allowing 10-15 seconds to change the battery with no loss of memory (so I didn't have to reset the watch after the battery swap out). Speaking of the alarm, it is really loud, so that you can use it as an alarm clock. The little chirp on the Skyhawk will not wake you up. Downside is price. I bought my second hand for a reasonable (but still high) price, but new these Breitling ana-digi models are very expensive.
    Last edited by Sabresoft; September 4th, 2015 at 11:40.
    Sabresoft

    Breitling Airwolf Raven | Certina
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    Casio G-Shock GW3500B-1A | Casio Pro Trek PRW5100-1 | Citizen Attesa ATD53-3081 |
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    Campanola Grand Complication AH4000-01X | Citizen Titanium Skyhawk | Independent Black ITA21-5141 |
    Timex IQ Flyback Chronograph T2N700ZL

    αlpha Carbon | duBois Rotomatic | Maurice Lacroix Miros (Automatic) Diver

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  3. #3
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    Re: Skyhawk issues / alternatives?

    Hi,

    Thank you so much for your detailed reply!

    A lot to think about. I had spotted the Navihawks and I like the white on black LCD that they have. I hadn't realised that they fixed the date issue with the updated movement, thats good news, they're a little more pricey so I will have to weigh up how much of an issue the date format would be. Good news about the lume on the Skyhawk, realistically the likelihood of needing to use the Chrono/Timer during the night is low. How would I see the thing I was supposed to be timing if there was no ambient light?

    Thank you for sharing some alternatives, from what I've seen the Skyhawk/Navihawk is still winning, I had looked at the g-shocks but I feel they look a bit too bulky (though clearly the Skyhawks are not small). That Breitling is lovely, it even has the logarithmic bezel, sadly a little out of my price range though!

    All the best.

    M
    Last edited by mitosan; September 4th, 2015 at 18:48.

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  5. #4
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    Skyhawk issues / alternatives?

    Yes the Breitling was pricey, but had been on my dream list for a dozen or so years, so when I had a chance to buy one for about 50% off, I jumped at it. It was a collector who had never worn it but was selling it off to buy something else more pricey. I asked him why so cheap when many others were listed for 10-20% more and he pointed out that there were many at the higher price point that were listed for months on end with no sale, and he pointed out that he wanted to get some cash to buy a Grail, so priced competitively. I researched him (he was a production manager for several motivational speakers, including a famous orchestra conductor who also did motivational speaking. I researched him and his client and he was on the up and up, so I bit and bought the watch. Have never regretted it, as it has been a fantastic watch.

    A word of warning on the Red Arrows Skyhawk. It looks great, especially on the red stitched black leather strap, but the dark red text and hands are very difficult to see/read in anything but very bright light.

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    The picture is deceiving because it was taken in very bright lighting conditions.
    Last edited by Sabresoft; September 5th, 2015 at 05:05.
    Sabresoft

    Breitling Airwolf Raven | Certina
    DS2 PreciDrive | Christopher Ward C70 Brooklands COSC | Maurice Lacroix Miros Chrono Diver COSC | Sinn UX

    Casio G-Shock GW3500B-1A | Casio Pro Trek PRW5100-1 | Citizen Attesa ATD53-3081 |
    Citizen Blue Angels World Time Chronograph AT | Citizen SS Skyhawk AT | Citizen Red Arrows Skyhawk AT |
    Citizen Satellite Wave-Air | Seiko Astron SAST005

    Campanola Grand Complication AH4000-01X | Citizen Titanium Skyhawk | Independent Black ITA21-5141 |
    Timex IQ Flyback Chronograph T2N700ZL

    αlpha Carbon | duBois Rotomatic | Maurice Lacroix Miros (Automatic) Diver

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  6. #5
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    Re: Skyhawk issues / alternatives?

    I'm also running into issues with the new Skyhawk. When I was younger, my parents bought me my first adult watch, a Citizen Skyhawk Blue Angels C300-Q00842. I loved that thing and wore it every day for 15 years until about 3 months ago, when something inside finally died. I figured that the latest Skyhawk would be a great replacement. I was able to get a JY0050-55L (U600-S055521) on an awesome discount for the holidays. The new style dials are very slick, and there are some new features:


    • eco-drive
    • automatic time setting by radio
    • LCD back-light


    It feels great, and is probably a little lighter than my old Skyhawk. Before I ordered it, I verified online that the timer, stopwatch, alarms, and calendar were all maintained, which I make heavy use of. After a day or two, I'm hitting my head against a few things:

    • (the biggest) Instead of the old 4 button interface, Citizen has opted for two push buttons and a 3 position crown. This wouldn't be a big deal, except it is *very* difficult to pull out the crown, much less control pulling it out one-vs-two clicks, without taking it off the wrist. There is no detent on the crown accessible from the top of the watch. I can somewhat access it by wedging a nail underneath it, but it is very uncomfortable and difficult to control the number of clicks. Now that I look at the pictures in more detail, it seems like the non-Blue Angel variant has knurling on the knob to make it possible to pull without removing the watch.
    • Setting the countdown timer is down by spinning the crown. That crown that is already very difficult to manipulate. It requires an awkward amount of rotation to set the timer.
    • Citizen removed the hand-retractor feature, so the LCD display is blocked to some extent for 10 minutes of each hour.
    • The watch has gotten bigger. I don't have large wrists, so it's border-line silly on me.
    • The bezel has a gritty feel when using the slide-rule, but that might just be because it's new.
    • (minor gripe) The calendar displayed is for the world-time, rather than the home time, which means that either you deal with the calendar being wrong for good chunks of the day, or you don't use the world time feature. That in itself isn't a big deal since that's how I used the older Skyhawk most of the time, but it's a little silly to have two LCDs, both showing the same city. Switching between home and world time would be a solution, if it wasn't so difficult to access the watch modes. It's uncomfortable to switch between world time and date routinely.


    It's a beautiful time-piece, but it feels like no one from Citizen ever used it as a daily-driver. I'm an engineer by day, and I was constantly using the various timing modes for keeping track of testing on my old Skyhawk.

    Has anyone else experienced this with the new Blue Angel and come to any conclusions? I can't have two watches of this caliber, so I have to decide if I'm going to return it very soon.

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