In this article, I’m going to write about the Citizen Altichron review, specifically the BN5030-06E model. It’s a true sports/outdoor watch with compass and altimeter functions by the Japanese under their Promaster line up.
And just like any other Citizen’s watches, the Altichron is also solar powered using their Eco-Drive technology.
A True Sports/Outdoor Watch With Compass And Altimeter
The main attraction of the Altichron (aside from its very busy and colorful dial, more on that later on) is in its great technical capability.
It has fully functioning compass and altimeter, as well as a robust case that can withstand extreme temperatures from -20 degrees Celcius to +60 degrees Celcius.
Add to that a good 200 m water resistance, superb light-weight titanium case and the famed Eco-Drive solar powered movement – you have a true sports watch that can even be used in the treacherous terrains of Everest (or in my case, my own backyard lol!)
It’s truly an interesting watch, both in the looks and the functionality. Let’s check out the Citizen Altichron review shall we.
Citizen Promaster Altichron Specification (BN5030-06E)
Diameter: 50 mm
Thickness: 16 mm
Lug Width: 22 mm
Case: Titanium case with Duratect coating
Strap: Black sillicone strap
Watch Crystal: Mineral crystal
Dial: Black and gray dial
Hands: Over-sized hands with lume
Markers: Index markers with lume
Movement: Citizen’s Eco-Drive J290, Solar powered movement
Accuracy: +-15 seconds per month
Power Reserve: 11 months
Water Resistance: 200 m
Other Features: Solar/Light powered watch, Compass, Altimeter (from -1,000 ft to 32,000 ft), Rotating compass ring, Date display, Power reserve display, Can operate in extreme weather (-20 deg. Celcius to +60 deg. Celcius)
Citizen Altichron Manual: Click HERE to download the manual from Citizen’s website
A Very Busy, Colorful And Informative Dial
What sets the Citizen Altichron from other sports/mountaineer watch with altimeter and compass is how the brand chose to make the watch totally analog, that is without any electronic display (think Casio G-Shock, or even the Tissot T-Touch that I’ve reviewed a few weeks ago).
This is hard to do, since the altimeter (to know what’s the altitude mountaineers are on a mountain) need to be displayed with many numbers (think 15,200 feet – how to show it with an analog watch?).
The compass can be shown by using the watch’s hands, but Citizen chose to put an additional compass hand because they want the current time to always be visible to users no matter what function they are using.
Thus, in order to achieve this analog look with those functions the watch has 3 extra hands in addition to the normal 3 hands (second, minute and hour) of normal watches – for a total of 6 different hands and scales!
This makes the watch a very unique piece – a very high tech device but has the appearance of “normal” watch.
And Citizen seems to know how to make a good design too. They played with colors, making the altimeter scales and hand in yellow while the compass hand and direction markings in red.
This makes the watch and functions easier to be used and also colorful. The many elements on the dial make it very interesting to look at.
I mean, look at those hands on top of each other. It’s truly unique and attractive though it can be overwhelming at first.
Anatomy Of The Citizen Altichron BN5030-06E Watch
I think it’s better for me to break down the anatomy of the watch for you guys. I’ve grouped the watch elements by their functional groups as below:
1- Normal Time Keeping
3 Normal hands (second, minute and hour): The main hands are skeleton hands with in white color. Rectangular index markers in white color are used as the hour markers for the watch
The bottom right crown is used to set the time just like any normal watch.
2- Power Reserve Indicator
The subdial at left (9 o’clock) shows the power reserve indicator with the yellow scale. The small white hand is the hand for power reserve (which also doubles as the altimeter hand)
3 extra hands are used for the altimeter:
- Small hand at left side showing the 10,000 feet indication (also doubles as power reserve hand)
- Widest but shortest red hand at the center will show the 1,000 feet increments (also doubles as compass marker)
- The tallest yellow hand will show the 25 feet increments
The bottom left pusher with the yellow ring is used to activate the altimeter
The red hand will be used as the compass hand pointing North. The chapter ring at the edge of the dial has the North, South, East and West markings and can be rotated by using the upper right crown.
The upper left pusher with red ring is used to activate the compass
5- The knob at the left side of the watch is the sensor for atmospheric pressure
Lightweight Titanium Case With Duratect Coating
Another element of the watch that make it very suitable for sports is the titanium case. Titanium has always been a good alternative for stainless steel for watch material due to its lightweight properties.
And it’s very important to have that since the watch is a big 50 mm diameter watch. It also has a thickness of 16 mm, which make the watch not a good choice for those with small wrists.
The titanium case is coated with Citizen’s own Duratect, which helps make the case 5 times harder than stainless steel. This means it won’t get scratched as easily, very important to protect the watch when using it outdoor.
What I like about the physical of this watch is how much thoughts is put to make it a very functional watch, i.e for those mountaineers, hikers, etc to use it easily.
At the sides are over-sized crowns and pushers which not just make the watch looks bigger, but also make it easy to be operated wearing gloves (you’ll need to wear those if you’re going to a very cold mountain right?).
The big 50 mm diameter is also to make it easier to read the dial. It comes with a silicone strap which is very comfortable to be worn. Having a strap instead of a metal bracelet also makes it easy to wear the watch above any clothes.
The watch case can also withstand extreme temperatures from -20 degrees Celcius to +60 degrees Celcius, further showing how the watch is a great companion for any expedition.
Eco-Drive Movement With Solar Powered Charging
I really love solar powered watches because they are a great piece of technology. It’s hard not to love them right? Inside this Citizen Altichron lies the Eco-Drive J290 movement that do just that.
Solar watches are like a crossover of quartz with automatic watches – you basically don’t need to change the battery like any normal quartz watches but still has the much better accuracy of quartz.
Most solar watches has a very long power reserve and Citizen, being the pioneer of this technology, are able to ensure the power reserve in this Altichron is as long as 11 months (assuming you don’t play around with the cool compass/altimeter of course).
Chart on how long it takes to charge this Citizen Altichron watch
Based on Citizen, we just need to bask the watch under a clear sun for just 3 minutes to use it normally for a day. And I can say most of us will definitely has more sunlight than that every single day.
But one thing that we might need to be aware of is how long it takes to recharge the watch from dead. It seems the watch will require at least 2 hours under sunlight to charge it from zero power reserve.
That’s quite a bother, considering an automatic watch will need a few shakes or rotation on the crown to bring it up from the dead.
The lesson here? Don’t ever let the Altichron power reserve went beyond the last 30% mark (it’s very easy to know this since it has the very useful power reserve indicator on the left).
A Fully Functioning Compass With Magnetic Declination Setting
A great function that the Citizen Altichron has is full functioning compass built inside it. The watch uses a magnetic sensor for this purpose.
The compass function is activated by pressing the top left pusher (with the red ring). The red hand will then move to show the direction of North. The chapter ring at the edge of the dial can be rotated by using the top right crown for navigation purposes.
To make things better, Citizen also included magnetic declination feature with this watch. What it does is to automatically adjust the hand to show the True North instead of Magnetic North.
What are Magnetic North and True North?
If you guys can remember, all compasses are not pointing to the actual North Pole, but instead pointing to a Magnetic North. That’s the Magnetic Pole of the earth and currently it’s in Canada.
Due to this, we need to do some adjustment to the compasses to ensure we are navigating to the correct True North (as in the maps). This Citizen Altichron makes life easier by enabling users to input the magnetic declination value (in degrees) into the watch.
(check out Page 38 of the Citizen Altichron Manual for step by step instruction on how to set the magnetic declination)
By the way, the magnetic declination value will not be the same everywhere due to latitude difference. You guys can check what’s the value from a map or you can also check out this website HERE for information about magnetic declination values everywhere in the world.
Altimeter (or Altitude Meter) – Perfect For Mountaineering
Another feature the Altichron has that makes it very useful is the altimeter. It’s job is to show the current altitude or elevation we are currently at and this watch can be used to show altitude up to 32,000 feet.
Simply push the bottom pusher (with yellow ring) and the 3 altimeter hands will show the altitude after a few seconds. The 3 hands are:
- Small white hand at left side will show the 10,000 feet indication
- Red hand (widest but the shortest hand) at the center will show the 1,000 feet increments
- The yellow hand will show the 25 feet increments
The altimeter scales are in imperial (feet) units. Citizen also produces metric units (meter) with unit no. BN4021-02E (you can check it out HERE).
The watch also comes in SI (meter) unit version
The watch does this by calculating the atmospheric pressure by a barometer inside it. The basic principle is the higher we go, the less air pressure it is. This can be used to calculate the current altitude based on pressure difference with sea level.
But we need to remember that weather can also affect air pressure. Low air pressure will typically caused rains, so the altimeter might be off by a couple hundred feets.
Another thing to note is that the watch altimeter can be calibrated from time to time, if you feel the reading is off. This can simply be done by inputing the correct altitude from a reliable source to the watch when inside the altimeter mode.
(read page 28 of the Citizen Altichron Manual for step by step instruction on how to calibrate the altimeter)
Watch this video to see the Citizen Altichron up close and how to use its compass and altimeter functions
Who Is The Citizen Altichron For?
It’s evident than mountaineers or those that love outdoor activities will love this watch. It’s compass and altimeter function is just killer. Not to mention it’s unique analog display really sets it apart from the numerous digital outdoor type of watches out there.
Having a titanium case also makes it a true sports watch as it’s quite light despite the size.
Even if you are not a person that will go on a trip outside the city, you’ll most likely love the cool functions and styling of this watch.
Who Should Not Get It?
Anyone having a small wrist might not find the Citizen Altichron a good watch for him/her. Even though the watch is light, wearing a timepiece bigger than your wrist is not a good idea, style wise.
It’s better to stick with watches about or smaller than your wrist to avoid looking goofy.
Pros and Cons Of The Citizen Promaster Altichron
- Good looking analog dial
- Titanium case makes the watch lighter than it looks
- Solar powered Eco-Drive movement for a maintenance free use
- Compass and Altimeter functions makes the watch a great tool to use outdoor
- Big crowns and pushers will ensure the watch is operable even while wearing gloves
- Mineral crystal is not a good scratch resistant material
Like This Citizen Altichron? Buy It Cheapest On Amazon!
If you like the watch, you can get it cheapest on Amazon. It’s MSRP is $640 while Amazon typically lists it for around $580. Click the link below to check out the best deals on Amazon.
The Citizen Altichron is definitely a good watch. It’s lacking in many features compared to other sports or outdoor type of watches that typically having lots more functions.
But the Altichron has this handicap of having an analog display which means it won’t be able to show as much information on the dial as the other watches.
But then, it’s this analog display design which make the watch a true pleasure to see. I mean, just look at those colorful dial with lots of hands and scale. It’s very busy alright but very entertaining and captivating at the same time.
For those adventures that only need to tell time, compass and altimeter with his/her watch while also look stylish, this is the watch for you guys.
I hope you guys like this Citizen Altichron review. Let me know your thoughts about this watch.
I’ll be happy to hear from you guys =)
Till next time.