Is The Citizen Caliber 0100 The World’s Most Accurate Watch?

Is The Citizen Caliber 0100 The World’s Most Accurate Watch?

Citizen’s new Caliber 0100 limited-edition watches have an accuracy that’s within one second per year. And they’re earth-friendly to boot.

By Hyla Bauer
Contributor & Special Projects

During the 1970s, the so-called "Quartz Crisis" hit the Swiss watch industry. For the first time, battery-powered (quartz) movements were introduced in wristwatches. These watches quickly gained popularity among consumers because they were less expensive. The new watches were in most cases a lot cheaper than their mechanical counterparts and made for a steep decline in sales for Swiss watchmakers. Quartz was hailed (by some) as the future of watches, and while quartz watches still have a stronghold in the market, mechanical watches in the mid to upper price ranges are selling better than ever.

Citizen’s Better Battery

There is however, a specific quartz watch that stands out from the rest. Citizen was among the first watchmakers using quartz movements, but the brand stated that they quickly understood the shortfalls of quartz watches, namely the short battery life, the inconvenient process of replacing batteries, and most importantly, the environmental issues of battery disposal. While the watch world was going crazy with new battery-powered quartz watches, Citizen took the concept one step further.

Power from Light

How did Citizen fix the problems they identified? They created a watch with a battery that re-charged itself with energy from light and did not need to be replaced. Long before rechargeable mobile devices that rely on electricity, 40 years ago Citizen came up with a technology that harnessed the power of light to charge its battery. That technology was affectionately named Eco-Drive.

Saving the Earth, One Watch at a Time

You could say that Citizen was an early adapter, sensitive even in the 1970s to the health of our planet. The Eco-Drive was a stroke of sustainability before anyone was ever using the term. The Eco-Drive watch batteries do not need to be replaced and are charged whenever the watch dial is exposed to light. It's pretty much a continual source of power (the watch charges in artificial light too). Unlike our ubiquitous connected watches, Eco-Drive technology isn't intended to become obsolete, and it won't any time soon. After all, it's been around for 40 years.

Harnessing Light’s Power

So how does the watch get the light? Through tiny microscopic holes in the dial, invisible to the naked eye. Light rays are extremely thin at between 400 to 600 nanometers. Nanometers are one billionth of a meter so they can fit through some very small spaces.

Citizen’s Latest Achievement, The Ultra-Accurate Caliber 0100

With the 0100, Citizen takes another jump forward with an even higher level of accuracy than it has ever achieved before. The watch has an astounding accuracy of just plus or minus ONE SECOND per year. To put this in perspective, the minimum accuracy required for COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres) certification for mechanical watches is between -4 and +6 seconds per day. Achieving accuracy through a mechanical movement is by far and away more difficult by its very nature, so it's not really fair to compare the two.

A Crystal Shape Makes All The Difference in Accuracy

The Citizen 0100 has its unusually-shaped crystals to thank for its next-level accuracy. This new crystal shape helps the Citizen 0100 achieve the ultimate accuracy. Most quartz watches incorporate quartz crystals in a tuning fork shape. However, Citizen's new Calibre 0100 has AT-cut crystal oscillators, which are solid, in a lozenge shape. The AT-cut has a higher resistance to temperature and gravity, according to the brand. The AT-cut crystal oscillator has the benefit of exhibiting a lower aging effect in its oscillation than fork-shaped oscillators. Citizen pre-tests all of their Citizen 0100 crystal's frequency as part of the manufacturing process, selecting only those that exhibit minimum change over time.

The Watch Looks Good, Too

The 0100's case and dial design are elegantly minimal. The essentials are easily read, with no extra, superfluous adornment to distract the wearer. The case, available in white gold or titanium, is inspired by a crystal's shape, subtly echoing the crystal oscillators in the watch's movement. Two of the models, the white gold version and the titanium fitted with a black dial, have seconds indexes. The second hands line up precisely with each of the 60 second indexes, which is tough achievement in itself. In fact, it's pretty rare. Citizen used a unique fabrication technology for making high-aspect-ratio microstructures for individual components.

Limited Availability

Citizen has left no stone unturned with the new Calibre 0100. They’ll be produced in a limited quantity, though. Just 100 of the white gold version will be made. For the titanium versions, the numbers are a little higher, with 500 for the black dial version, and 200 with a mother-of-pearl dial. The prices are relatively high for Citizen as well, at $16,800 for the white gold, and $7,400 for the titanium versions. Even at these prices, the watch gives the wearer bragging rights. Who else can say their watch is accurate within a second for an entire year? 

(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)

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