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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, I'm new to this forum, and have a question or two about atomic watches.

I was considering purchasing an atomic watch, and setting it to the time clock at work. But from what I've read and understand, atomic watches don't work that way. Apparently, they sync up with either the NASA satellite or the National Bureau of Standards, based in Fort Collins, Colorado.

If I understand correctly, regardless of what you set the watch at, once you sync it, it goes back to the "official" time. Is this correct?

So, my question is: Is there a way to "lock" or "freeze" a manually set time, so it doesn't sync up with Fort Collins? If there is such a way, will the atomic watch still retain its accuracy…assuming, of course, the time clock retains its accuracy?

I understand this probably defeats the purpose of having an atomic watch, but I was just curious to know if there's any way I can set the watch to the time clock and have it remain set to it.

Thank you! Jd
 

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This brings up another question. Is your time clock time in a different time zone? The atomic setting feature of the watch will sync the time to the zone it is in. Theoretically this should also be the time on your time clock.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This brings up another question. Is your time clock time in a different time zone? The atomic setting feature of the watch will sync the time to the zone it is in. Theoretically this should also be the time on your time clock.
The time clock is correct for my region, which is Eastern Standard Time. The more I read about atomic watches, the more fascinating I find them.

Here's an anecdote about atomic clocks: When I was a kid, my father (who was a ham radio operator) listened to short wave radio. He sometimes listened to WWV, which was the "time station" of the National Bureau of Standards in Fort Collins. I remember the sounds vividly. (You can actually hear a sample of it on the WWV Wikipedia site.)

So, when I began looking into atomic watches, and read its sync feature is from Fort Collins, for some reason, I remembered that short wave radio station. My father was listening to an audio atomic clock, over 50 years ago.
 

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This is really a question for an electrical engineer / computer tech, but....
All (I prefer the term "radio-controlled or just simply RC) RC watches are not created equal. Can you switch between radio reception mode and plain quartz technology? Maybe. With some watches you have that option, while the more basic or inexpensive brands will not allow that option...it is a straight radio receiver or nothing at all.
However there are 2 different loopholes to this.
1. Permanently disconnect the antenna in the watch that receives the nightly radio signals. Now your watch is just like every other quartz watch.
2. Most all watch owner's manuals state that the watch needs to be in places where the radio signals can reach the watch's antenna. If they do not, the watch then operates for the next 22 hours as a normal quartz watch, and will continue to do so until the next signal(s) are broadcast.
As an experiment, you could try wrapping your watch tonight in aluminum foil, and see if that prevents the radio time signals from reaching your watch.
Or, you could go through the hassle of removing the watch battery while the signals are being broadcast and then replace it afterwards.
(I think that would be 5:00 AM). Your owners manual should contain your watch's reception times.

This is a more complicated subject than it first appears to be...I hope I answered your question. If I misunderstood anything, let me know and I'll try again.

BTW, like your father, I am also an amateur radio operator: KC2JUQ . I got my license back in 2012.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I get the impression you are thinking the atomic clock or atomic synced watch will always show the time in Fort Collins. Not true unless you set-up to the wrong time zone.
Well....based on the research and reading I've done about atomic watches, yes, that's the impression I got. You're apparently saying I'm wrong. So, now I'm not sure I've understood any of this at all.

So, maybe I better ask for expert advice, instead of misinterpreting anything I read.

Here is what I currently believe. Please tell me if this is correct or not.

Let's say the time clock is at 11:59 am. I get the atomic watch ready so that as soon as the time clock turns to 12:00 pm, I press the button on the watch, and set it. So, now, my watch is synced up perfectly with the time clock.

Now....let's say, just for the sake of argument, that the "official atomic watch" time is 12:02pm. Just for the sake of discussion. If I sync the atomic watch, will it switch over to the official time? In other words, if the time clock is 12:00 pm and the official time is 12:02pm, will syncing the watch reset the time to 12:02? That's what I'm trying to figure out.
 

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You seem to have a proper understanding. The watch will sync to the signal it receives from the standard source. If your time clock does not match the atomic standard your watch and your time clock will never match.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
1. Permanently disconnect the antenna in the watch that receives the nightly radio signals. Now your watch is just like every other quartz watch.
2. Most all watch owner's manuals state that the watch needs to be in places where the radio signals can reach the watch's antenna. If they do not, the watch then operates for the next 22 hours as a normal quartz watch, and will continue to do so until the next signal(s) are broadcast.
This is a more complicated subject than it first appears to be...I hope I answered your question. If I misunderstood anything, let me know and I'll try again.

BTW, like your father, I am also an amateur radio operator: KC2JUQ . I got my license back in 2012.

Thank you for replying. My current watch is a plain old, cheap Casio digital that cost oh, about 15 dollars. I really don't need anything more than this. I set it to the time clock. After about oh, a week or so, there is a difference of about eight seconds between my watch and the time clock. Not a big deal, eight seconds. After two weeks, the difference is about 16 or 17 seconds. Still, not a real big deal.

The question now is: Is the time clock drifting, is my watch drifting, or are both clocks drifting? Resetting the time on my watch is not a real big deal. After a while, it gets tiring, though. Again, to repeat...not a real big deal, but....

Anyway, the idea popped in my head that maybe...maybe...an atomic watch might prevent the drifting...assuming, of course, the time clock isn't drifting--or, isn't drifting as much as the cheap Casio watch. So, I began researching atomic watches, and from what I understood, it syncs up to a specific time source. So, using an atomic watch to reflect the time clock time isn't practical.

If I disable the antenna, then, if what you say is true and it is just like every other quartz watch, then if I understand you correctly, it, too, can drift. So, unless I want the atomic watch to reflect a specific national standard time, it's not practical for me to invest in one. That's what I'm understanding now. Am I right?

I also would like to say I completely agree with you. It does indeed seem to be more complicated than it first appears to be. I'm very pleased you pointed that out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
You seem to have a proper understanding. The watch will sync to the signal it receives from the standard source. If your time clock does not match the atomic standard your watch and your time clock will never match.
Okay, that settles that, doesn't it? No point in getting an atomic watch. (How I'll go about finding out what the time clock is set to, I'll probably never know!) :)

Thank you all for replying.
 

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The good news is you can save some money. Buy a regular quartz powered watch and sync it to your time clock. According to most accounts, "A typical quartz wristwatch gains or loses around 15 seconds per month, or less than a half a second a day." If you buy a watch with a quartz movement that is charged by light you will also eliminate the hassle of changing the battery every 2 or so years.
 
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