Saturday, April 26, 2008

Watch this

I'm a bit of a watch fan. Some people get away with just one. Some don't wear them because they get lost, and some, like me, buy new watches all the time. Ok, so I've got a few and only wear one at a time naturally, what's the problem?

The latest was a long service award for staying with the company for 20 years. I'm crazy, I know. Anyhoo, in the past awards were chosen from a jewelers catalogue, but lately a gift catalogue was supplied, from which a gift to the value of the award must be chosen. Choose from a catalogue? You must be joking - I already had a firm idea what I wanted.

So, with my haggling hat on, I visited the shop and secured a limited edition Citizen Calibre 9000 minute repeater.

It's a lovely timepiece, although the large face is somewhat unusual - perhaps cluttered - and takes a bit of getting used to.

What does it do? Well, the main 'minute repeater' function is supposed to emulate actual mechanical minute repeater pocket watches of old, where the watch would chime the hour and minute at the press of a button. This it does, but with an electronic chime. What would you expect? After all, we're not quite in exclusive Swiss precision territory here - not at this price.

The minute repeater is, then, just a gimmick, but quite a sweet one. There are two alarms, and a perpetual calendar, the day of month indicated by the red hand. The smaller of the timekeeping dials is the one where alarm and minute repeater functions are referenced. The main watchface can be set to local time (if traveling abroad).

In addition to the second-hand dial, there is a little dial indicating am or pm - the watch needs to know this obviously to keep the alarm function in check.

I nearly forgot - this watch is solar powered. Using Citizen's Eco-Drive system, it's light powered, as it can charge from a lightbulb apparently. The photo-voltaic cell sits behind the scalloped part of the face, and charges an in-built battery. I'm not sure what the lifespan of the battery is, seeing as the watch itself should last for decades. And what if, decades from now, Citizen no longer support battery replacement? Yes, I'm looking at you, 1st Gen iPod.

With a croc skin strap and a deployment clasp, the watch oozes class, but feels heavy on the wrist - I suspect this is because I normally wear an aluminium cased Swatch. And that I have the wrists of an elf.

So, a suitable stop gap I think until I win the lottery and get a Rolex...