The Ultimate Techno-Watch Review

Francis Vale

Citizen Blue Angels Skyhawk Titanium Watch, Cont.


There are only two function buttons on the Skyhawk, and it makes up for its geek beloved buttons deficit by your turning the watch's crown, which changes the watch's mode. The mode dial on the watch face has markings for time, calendar, the three separate alarms, the chronograph, timer, and time zones.  Each mode setting causes a corresponding change in one or both of the two LCD panels on the watch face. In practice though, turning the crown is a fiddly way to do things while wearing the watch, and the analog hands are, of course, usually in a position that obscures the mode dial and setting. Also, alphanumeric text displayed on the Skyhawk LCD's is not as easy to read as on the Casio G-shock LCD's, which have better contrast and sharper text.

The Blue Angels Edition Also Comes In A Leather Strap Model

The Skyhawk also has a small analog 24-hour time dial that always works in conjunction with the hours and minutes. It also has a small UTC (Universal Time Constant) 24 hour and minute dial that indicates UTC and nothing else. Basically, UTC is the same as Greenwich Mean Time, which is a time scale based on the apparent motion of the "mean" sun with respect to the meridian through the Old Greenwich Observatory (zero degrees longitude) located in England. If the mean (i.e., corrected) sun is directly over the meridian through Greenwich, it is exactly 12 noon GMT or 12:00 GMT.

So, for example, Eastern Standard Time (EST) is the mean solar time of the meridian at 75 degrees W. However, due to variations including those associated with the effects of tidal friction (the earth's spin is continually but gradually slowing down); high frequency tides and winds; the exchange of angular momentum between the earth's core and its shell, and other planet trembling effects, like millions of seismically overweight Americans wobbling through shopping malls, UTC is not a uniform time scale, which is why we now have Atomic Time.

Atomic Time is based on the extremely constant frequency of a radio emission from cesium atoms when they change between two particular energy states.  The unit of Atomic Time is the atomic second.  86,400 atomic seconds define the length of a nominal "reference" day—the length of the day as given by the earth's rotation around the year 1900.

But even Atomic Time needs to be periodically adjusted. Because of the variations in the earth's spin, the length of the actual day can be shorter or longer than the nominal day of 86,400 seconds. The time scale based on the atomic second, but corrected every now and again to keep it in approximate sync with the earth's rotation, is known as UTC or Coordinated Universal Time.

The corrections show up as the leap seconds put into UTC from time to time—usually on New Year's Eve. Currently, the need for leap seconds is primarily due to the effects of tidal friction, but in due time, globally warmed titanic icebergs crashing into downtown Los Angeles will probably have an effect as well.

(Thanks to Richard B. Langley, Geodetic Research Laboratory Dept. of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering, University of New Brunswick for all this UTC info.)

And then, of course, we have Bert's theory of relativity, which totally throws the hope of there ever being an absolute, exact time out the quirky universe's window. Bottom line, being exactly "on time" is just a convenient convention for getting people to more or less show up at the same sort of place based on what their space-time-continuum-addled watches are collectively saying, sort of, maybe.

So if there can never be such a thing as a one and only correct time anywhere in the universe, then you may as well show up at the party "on time" and looking good. And the Citizen Skyhawk is one very good-looking watch, dude. Kind of like holes in your underwear, no one but you will probably ever see the official Blue Angels flight squadron insignia on the back of the watch.

But people will assuredly admire its front. The Skyhawk's watch face has an almost deep space dark blue sheen to it, and the white analog hour and minute hands look very smart, as does the yellow second hand. All in all, this is a great geek techno-watch for test pilot wannabe's, or for guys who want to strut their geeky right stuff as they board a Virgin Galactic spaceship.


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