Quick Take

Last year, Citizen showed, with surprisingly little fanfare, a fanfare-worthy achievement. This was the Caliber 0100, which was presented in a pocket watch case, as a non-production prototype. Though it was clear at first glance that the movement could easily be used in a production wristwatch, at the time there was no specific commitment from Citizen that this would happen. However, this year at Baselworld, Citizen debuted the Caliber 0100 wristwatch, in white gold and titanium cases, making a new record-holder for world's most accurate wristwatch a reality.
The new watch is housed in a 37.5mm x 9.1mm case and is being released as a limited edition there will be 100 in white gold and a total of 700 in Super Titanium with Duratect. Of the 700 in titanium, 200 will have a mother of pearl dial. The accuracy of the watch derives from its very high frequency quartz oscillator, which runs at 8.4 MHz (8,388,608 Hz) as opposed to the 32,768 Hz frequency of a standard quartz watch. The cut of the quartz crystal is also different the caliber 0100 uses what's called an AT-cut quartz crystal, which has a lozenge shape, rather than the tuning fork shape of a conventional quartz crystal. In addition, the oscillator is temperature-controlled, variations in temperature being the single most significant source of rate variation in quartz oscillators.*
According to Citizen, LIGA fabrication is used for elements of the gear train that drive the hands, in order to eliminate backlash, or play between gear teeth. Some degree of play between gear teeth, however minute, is necessary for a gear train to run but it can result in some imprecision in, for example the placement of a seconds hand with respect to dial markers. This approach to ensuring extreme precision in gear engagement is typically a feature of higher end mechanical watches (Patek Philippe uses a LIGA-fabricated wheel in the indirect center seconds train of the new 5212A Calatrava, and Rolex uses one in the Daytona, as Ben Clymer reported from his Rolex factory visit article in 2015).*The specific approach to the problem of backlash in the Caliber 0100 is the use of a LIGA-fabricated anti-backlash spiral spring. Unlike everyday quartz movements, Caliber 0100 is also extensively jeweled, with a total count of 17.
The single biggest problem with high-accuracy, high frequency quartz watches historically has been battery life; higher frequency quartz oscillators use a lot of power and when Citizen came out with its 4.1 MHz Crystron Megaquartz in 1975, expected battery life was only about six months (according to Citizen). That watch was rated to a still-amazing 3 seconds per year, but the short battery life was a commercial liability. It was however, an incredible feat for its time, and like the Caliber 0100, it used an AT-cut quartz crystal. Forty-four years later, the energy problem's been solved thanks to the Caliber 0100's use of Eco-Drive technology, which gives the watch a six month power reserve (eight months in power-save mode) and it's worth noting that this is despite the fact that Caliber 0100 runs at about double the frequency of the Crystron.*
Hands and applied indexes are faceted brass (an unusual choice for hands in a watch for which minimizing power consumption is an issue as they're on the heavy side) and the watches are hand-assembled in Japan. The relatively high level of hand-work, as well as the use of premium materials and very advanced mechanical and electronic timekeeping technology, are obvious signs that these are not going to be five hundred dollar watches but the price still came, to me, as an initial shock. Hold onto your knickers, Gertrude the titanium models are $7,400, and the white gold model is $16,800.
Initial Thoughts

This is one of two*record breaking watches released this year (the other being the new Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT, which is the world's thinnest selfwinding chronograph) and as with all new records, it raises the question of when and if it's going to be broken. That Citizen now has bragging rights for indisputably the most accurate wristwatch ever made, doesn't necessarily mean no one else will attack that record.*
The Citizen Chronomaster

High precision timekeeping is a major priority at Citizen; for more, check out our hands-on with the Citizen Chronomaster.

AT cut quartz crystals were invented in 1938, and while Citizen's Eco-Drive tech is class-leading, other large watchmaking companies with semiconductor capacities also have the ability to deploy similar technology. But it's a major assertion of thought leadership on the part of Citizen to have produced this watch, and to have guaranteed the level of performance it provides, and though there are other firms that hypothetically could have done it, the fact remains that Citizen is the company that put in the work, and did the R&D, necessary to make this a reality. High frequency quartz watches are a fascinating sub-speciality of watch collecting companies as varied as Omega, Bulova, Seiko, and Citizen itself have all produced such watches, both in the present and the past; as far as I can recall the record holder for quartz accuracy until today was actually the aforementioned Citizen Crystron. This is with the caveat that you can get better performance from wristwatches that calibrate themselves using radio frequency signals, either from terrestrial transmitters or from the GPS network, but these are not completely autonomous timekeepers, like the Caliber 0100.*
Now, depending on things like temperature, variation in quartz crystal performance, and other imponderables, you may very well get one second a year performance out of a watch not rated to that accuracy. I have a Citizen Eco-Drive Skyhawk that's probably nine or ten years old and when I first got it I measured its accuracy over the course of a year and it was slow by three seconds over 365 days. But there is a big difference between getting lucky in terms of performance, and being able to guarantee performance over that long a period. The industry standard practice for AT quartz crystals specifies the angle of deviation of the cut from the Z axis of the crystal (for instance) to within 0.0042 of a degree and the angle of the cut can be varied slightly in order to alter the rate stability of the crystal in a given temperature range to the desired spec. (Tighter tolerances will produce more consistent performance, but as is usually the case, it's more expensive.) This combined with some of the other technical features of the Caliber 0100 make it, at least for now, technically unique.
From a practical perspective this is all a bit moot, of course most wristwatch owners won't especially notice the difference between 10 seconds a year, and 1 second a year, but this watch is not for most wristwatch owners (both in terms of performance and price). Its appeal will be strongest to those who are emotionally moved by achievements in high precision timekeeping. A client for the very expensive gold model, for instance, might also have a 2.4 MHz Omega Marine Chronometer or two in their collection, but they also might have high precision pendulum clocks (including a master-slave setup or two) and mechanical observatory chronometer wrist and pocket watches (and yes, I'm describing what my own collection would look like in a post-Powerball win universe). As with much high end watchmaking, whether mechanical or high precision quartz, a lot of the pleasure of ownership has to do with the pride one takes in having something superlative on your wrist. Excellence can be expressed in design, fit and finish, handwork, or in precision performance, and if you're fascinated by the latter to any degree, the Caliber 0100 is a watch worth watching.
The Basics

Brand: Citizen
Model: Caliber 0100
Reference Number: AQ6010-06A (gold), AQ6021-51E (titanium), AQ6020-53X (titanium with MOP dial)
Diameter: 37.5mm
Thickness: 9.1mm
Case Material: White gold or Super Titanium with Duratect; display back on the white gold model only
Dial Color: Cream (white gold model), metallic black or MOP (titanium models)
Indexes: Applied, faceted
Water Resistance: 50 meters
Strap/Bracelet: Crocodile leather strap with white gold pin buckle (gold model); Super Titanium bracelet with Duratect (titanium models)
The Movement

Caliber: 0100, Eco-Drive
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Power Reserve: 6 months; 8 months in standby mode
Frequency: 8,388,608 Hz via an AT-cut quartz crystal which is thermocompensated
Jewels: 17
Chronometer Certified: Caliber 0100 laughs at your feeble chronometer certification
Additional Details: LIGA anti-backlash teeth in driving train for the hands; ruthenium coated with striped finish
Pricing & Availability

Price: $7,400 (titanium), $16,800 (white gold)
Availability: TBD
Limited Edition: 100 pieces in white gold, 200 pieces in titanium with MOP dial, and 500 pieces in titanium with black dial
Visit Citizen Watches online at citizenwatch.com.


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