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Review of the Citizen Attesa ATD53-3081


The ATD53-3081 is a Japanese market only model, part of their Attesa range. It is a radio controlled (or alternatively called Atomic Time) watch that synchronizes with atomic clock radio transmitters in Japan (2), Europe (England and Germany), China and North America (Fort Collins, CO). Range for these transmitters varies, but for most people in North America, Europe, Japan and eastern China synchronization is feasible. Peripheral regions may be able to sync, but for the southern hemisphere this is not really an option. Citizen has released a model that synchronizes via satellite, the limited edition, and quite costly, Eco-Drive Satellite Wave. Once this technology matures, synchronization may be possible in most of the world, and the technology will possibly trickle down into their mainstream products.

The ATD53-3081 is one of ten models in the Attesa range that use the H610 calibre, and models range in price from ¥105,000 to ¥157,500 ($1320 to $1975 US). The cases on all ten models are titanium, some in natural colour, and three look to be PVD black finish, and one of these has some gold trim. All (both watch and bracelet) are DLC coated (diamond like coating) to provide scratch resistance. I have had mine for about 10 months now and it gets worn about 1-2 days in two weeks (due to the number of watches in my rotation), and is showing no typical desk diving type scars yet.

The other Attesa model numbers are BY0044-51E | BY0044-51F | BY0040-51A | BY0040-51L | BY0040-51E | BY0040-51F | ATD53-3082 | ATD53-3011 | ATD53-3012. Other Citizen Japan models using the H610 calibre include the Exceed range in Titanium with white plating, models BY0064-53E | EBS74-5101 | EBS74-5102 | EBS74-5103 ranging in price from ¥199,500 to ¥210,000 ($2500 to $2600 US) and the quite pricey Citizen Series 8 Model 804 in stainless steel, model numbers CNS72-0041 & CNS72-0042.

In Canada we get the busier looking, stainless steel Chrono-Time A-T, models BY0000-56E and BY0006-50E, which also have an internal calculator bezel turned with a crown at 8 o'clock. These are priced below $1000 CDN/US. Other variation on the Chrono-Time A-T models are the similar BY0010-52E available in Brazil and Panama and the BY0010-52L, BY0010-52E and BY0010-01E available in the UAE, Taiwan, Singapore (BY0010-52E only), and India (BY0010-52E only). In Europe the BY0011-50E is available in Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland.

Italy has the BY0050-58A, BY0050-58E and BY0050-58L which look closer to the Exceed models.

To see what the various different variants look like just Google the model numbers.

All versions except the BY0000-56E, BY0006-50E and BY0010-52E have AR coated sapphire crystals.

Now to the main review of the ATD53-3081. The feature set, in addition to the atomic time synchronization includes perpetual calendar (a given with radio controlled watches), multi-timezone setting based on 26 cities around the world (more on this later), an alarm and ⅕ second chronograph.

The 45 mm diameter, 12.85 mm thick, case is angular with some sharp looking creases (giving a look sort of like the facets on a diamond). This is different from all my other watches and is rather neat. There is a fixed black bezel with a tachymeter scale on the outside of the crystal. There is a seconds scale on the inside of the crystal around the perimeter of the dial, with numbers at the hour marker locations, and tick marks at ⅕ second intervals, with larger markers at the full minute/second intervals. Hour markers are silver sticks on a black dial (which has some vertical ridges running top-to-bottom). Between these markers are some groupings of small text, as follows:

- Between 11 o'clock and 1 o'clock there are: NO, RX, H, M, L markings for the atomic synchronization function
- At around the 2 o'clock position are Alarm ON/OFF markings
- Between 7 o'clock and 8 o'clock there is AU-STD-MA for standard time setting (automatic/manual option)
- Between 8 o'clock and 9 o'clock there is AU-SMT-MA for DST time setting (automatic/manual option)

The inner (inside of the hour markers), slightly recessed dial consists of three large hands (hours, minutes and chronograph seconds), and three sub-dials as follows:

- At 2 o'clock is a 24 hour dial with white ticks on a black background for the upper half (night) and black ticks on a white background for the lower half (day). Hours are displayed inside this dial at 6, 12, 18 and 24. Some people question the usefulness of a 24 hour dial, but when travelling in places where you are not familiar with local conditions it is useful to know if it is AM/PM (imagine landing in Stockholm in December after travelling through say 8 to 10 timezones where at both 6 AM and 6 PM it will be dark), or when setting the watch manually so that the date changes at midnight and not noon.

- At 6 o'clock there is the seconds dial for the time and surrounding this dial is a silver ring with USA, EUR, CHN and JPN along the bottom; when in synchronization mode or check mode the seconds hand will spin around to the transmitter site that it is receiving (or recently received) from. The site is determined by the selected city timezone, so for example to synchronize in the US/Canada, one of the North American time zone cities must be selected. Based on the selected city the watch knows the proper offset

- At 10 o'clock is the minutes counter for the chronograph, with a battery scale in the top left quadrant. The hand normally sits at 60 (top) when the chronograph is not running, and points at the battery charge scale when in synchronization/check mode.

At four o'clock is a T-shaped opening leaning 45 degrees counter-clockwise. The Stem of the T shows the date, with bold black text on a white background. There is a small arrow pointing to the top of the T, which points to the current city/timezone. To the left and right of this are the next cities in the rotation. The text in this ring alternates between black-on-white and white-on-black with 3 letter abbreviations for the cities. Initially I didn't really like this large opening, but have since gotten used to it.

The BY0044-51E, BY0044-51F, BY0040-51A, BY0040-51L, BY0040-51E and BY0040-51F Attesa variants have changed the appearance of this opening a little with a frame around the two major items (active timezone and date) and appear to be hiding the other cities behind b

The case has two low profile pushers shaped to match the case (2 o'clock and 4' o'clock) and a crown at 3 o'clock.

The 2 o'clock pusher starts and stops the chronograph and has functionality in setting modes.

The 4 o'clock pusher is used to check/start synchronization, to reset the chronograph and in setting modes.

The crown is used to select timezone cities and in the setting modes.

First I'll talk about the chronograph. It only goes to 60 minutes, but does count ⅕ seconds. It does not do splits, only start and stop (accumulations) with the 2 o'clock pusher and reset with the 4 o'clock pusher. That pusher has no effect when the chronograph is actually running.

Next is the synchronization function. It you press the pusher at 4 o'clock (when not in chronograph mode) it shows, via the chronograph seconds hand, if the watch synchronized within the last 24 hours: NO, or [H]igh, [M]edium or [L]ow quality signal. If you press and hold the pusher and wait for a beep you will initiate the manual sync mode which will either show NO or RX (receive). Synchronization can take up to 5 minutes and should be done with the watch off-wrist and the 9 o'clock position facing the radio transmitter for best results. Actually mine syncs daily from within the bedside table drawer when it runs automatically at 2, 3 and/or 4 AM until it gets a sync or fails at the last attempt.

Setting the timezone city requires a pull on the crown to the first position out, and is accomplished by turning the crown either way which rotates the selection in the T window. As you select your city the hour hand will rotate to the correct hour, and the minute hand will move if you are changing to a ½ hour timezone (Adelaide, Australia or New Delhi, India for example). As soon as the crown is moved out, the chronograph second hand points at the current DST/ST & Auto or Manual setting. Pressing the 4 o'clock pusher allows you to change the settings. You might question why you'd want to go to manual mode, but there are some jurisdictions, such as Saskatchewan that don't observe DST, and so you want to set your timezone to CHI (Chicago) but set DST off manually, otherwise everytime your watch syncs it will get the hour wrong as it auto sets to Chicago DST in the summer. Pressing the 2 o'clock pusher toggles between the DST setting area and the hand pointing to 6 o'clock which allows you to set the watch manually (basically select this area, then pull the crown out to second position and set the time via turn of the crown and toggling to date setting with the 2 o'clock pusher).

The timezone setting is one area where there is a slight flaw in the design of this watch, because there is no timezone for Newfoundland (a zone ½ earlier than EST/EDT). This renders the watch relatively useless for Newfoundlanders as they can't utilize the sync function and have the correct time. Also a nuisance for visitors. Fortunately my Skyhawk with one user settable timezone and my Casio G-Shock GW3500 with a Newfoundland timezone would have to be my choice of watch if I should happen to visit.

Pulling the crown out two stops allows setting of the alarm time, with the pusher at 4 o'clock toggling it on/off, and turning the crown to set the alarm time, and the pusher at 2 o'clock toggling between the hour and minute hands for the setting. The alarm sound is quite good and pressing either pusher will stop the alarm (although turning it off so that it doesn't go off again the following day requires a return to setting mode).

Overall this is a good looking watch with great functionality (if you overlook the chronograph and timezone limitations mentioned above). Despite all the dial features the watch is easy to read and has good lume (full length of all the ticks, hour and minute hands). It is not exceedingly bright at first, but does last most of the night.

The watch has the ability to reset all the hands and date to a reference position.

And of course like most Citizen watches this is an Eco-Drive (solar) watch with 240 days reserve at full charge.[/QUOTE]
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