Space Jam: Sun, Satellite, And Earth Align In Citizen’s New Satellite Wave GPS Freedom
Japanese brand Citizen has found a niche between smartwatch and smart-looking watch that brings satellite technology to your wrist.
Someone once said that Swiss watchmaking is all about history, emphasizing traditional skills and finishes over everything else, while Japanese watch brands favor the future, with a focus on innovative technology and functionality.
The Citizen Satellite Wave GPS Freedom debunks that generalization.
In the last 30 years or so, Japanese brands have come a long way is forging their own unique identities amongst collectors. And with its latest evolution in its Satellite Wave collection, Citizen introduces a watch that’s both handsome and useful.
Founded in 1930 by Swiss and Japanese investors, Citizen has been producing durable and affordable watches for almost a century. On the business side of things, the company became a global powerhouse with the advent of quartz technology. (You have to remember that at one time, quartz movements, with their accuracy and ease of use, represented the wave of the future.) And even after quartz became synonymous, Citizen continued to push the limits of what the technology could contribute.
For example, Citizen launched the world’s first multi-band atomic timekeeping watch in 1993. Synchronized to atomic clocks, these watches are accurate to within one second in 100,000 years. And the Skyhawk A-T line introduced radio-controlled timekeeping that synchronized with clocks in Japan, North America, and Europe, automatically selecting the correct frequency by location.
In 1996, the brand’s celebrated Eco-Drive range was born. These watches use natural or artificial light (absorbed through the dial) to power a long-lasting battery.
Citizen has stated that, as a company, they prefer progress to status. Over the years, Citizen's research and development team have continued to focus refining both its automatic quartz technology and its synchronized timekeeping capabilities. In essence, they are always striving to build a watch that you never need to think about powering or resetting.
The next bold leap for Citizen was in 2011 when it introduced the Satellite Wave concept. By being able to ping signals off of satellites, it made radio-controlled timing possible in remote areas (you know, deserts, mountain peaks, the middle of the ocean) that are not serviced by land-based stations.
Since then, Citizen has updated the Satellite Wave several times, adjusting not only accuracy but also battery life (the most recent claims state the rechargeable/secondary batteries will last up to 40 years).
Hands-On With Citizen’s Satellite Wave GPS Freedom
The most recent model is the Satellite Wave GPS Freedom. With coverage across 40 of the existing UTC standard time zones, watches with Satellite Wave will ensure the most accurate time you will find in any conventional watch. It also provides the World’s Fastest Timekeeping Signal Reception Speed from GPS Navigation Satellites — you can reset your home time in as quick as three seconds.
And if you do find yourself marooned in a desert/mountaintop/at sea situation, it's also got features such as a Perpetual Calendar, Daylight Saving Time Indicator, Power Reserve Indicator, Light Level Power Indicator, and Day/Date to help you keep track of time.
MAKE IT FASHION
The West has often looked to Japan for lifestyle inspiration. From the popularity of labels like Kenzo and Comme des Garçons to the very desirable Suntory whiskey, Japanese brands are taking an innovative approach to luxury.
And the Satellite Wave GPS is no exception. Far from its more practical origins, this solar powered collection has been redesigned in sporty black ion-plated steel cases with blue or green hands and accents. The dial has a lot of depth — a detail you can’t fully appreciate until you hold the watch in your hands. The 44mm case makes the most of its size, providing a rational display for the perpetual calendar, daylight savings time indicator, power reserve indicator, and light level power indicator.
Its makers say that the Satellite Wave GPS’ design was influenced by outer space. The lines of the watch are all streamlined and rounded like a flying saucer. Certainly, the clear disk hands and layers of skeletonized surfaces make it appear as though it is floating in the ether. And while it’s not weightless, its caliber F150 quartz movement also a relatively lightweight watch.
And while most of us will never voyage into outer space (or even deserts or mountains), the Satellite Wave GPS is the ultimate travel timepiece. While it won’t fix your jet lag, no matter how bleary-eyed you are, as soon as you change timezones, just press a single button and this dual time watch will reset your clock. The Citizen Satellite Wave GPS Freedom is available in red, green, and blue and is priced at $795 USD.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)