Counter Sync: Reviewing the Citizen Proximity

Once you’ve downloaded the app, you can set up your alerts. A series of on-off sliders let you control whether you receive time syncs, as well as alerts for new e-mail, incoming calls, scheduled events, and a lost Bluetooth connection. You can also enable a feature that lets you find a lost iPhone.

If you were following the last paragraph closely, you may have noticed that text-message alerts were not mentioned. That’s because the Proximity does not offer them. And e-mail alerts are limited to IMAP accounts. POP3 and Exchange are not supported, so you may not be able to configure your corporate e-mail account.

All notifications arrive in the form of a brief vibration. The alert does not include any buzzing or other sound. The vibration is relatively light, and I can see where someone skiing a steep bump run might miss one.

When an alert arrives, the seconds hand stops ticking and points to small codes printed on the inner bezel. If you receive an e-mail, the seconds hand points to “Mail” at 10 o’clock. Somewhat confusingly, a schedule or calendar alert also causes the seconds hand to point to “Mail.” A phone call sends the seconds hand to “Call,” at 11 o’clock. Pressing one of the pushers for two seconds starts the seconds hand ticking again. (The hour and minutes hands continue to keep time while the seconds hand handles its alert duties.)

The seconds hand identifies the most recently received alert. If you receive multiple alerts without checking your wrist, you can’t make the seconds hand back up to show you the missed alerts. Also note that while the Proximity app can sync with up to five e-mail accounts, you’ll receive the same short vibrating alert for all e-mails sent to any account.

The dial conveys a great deal of information.
The dial conveys a great deal of information.

Another feature that’s sure to be popular is the time sync, which can be activated automatically or manually. This updates the Proximity’s time display to match that shown on the iPhone. The automatic sync occurs each time you establish a Bluetooth connection. A manual or on-demand sync is activated by pressing the lower pusher.

If your iPhone is set to change time zones automatically, any change in the time (and date) displayed on your phone will also be displayed on the watch. One particularly fun test of this feature is to open the iPhone’s Date & Time setting screen in General settings, turn “Set Automatically” to off, then open the “Set Date & Time” screen and change the time. Within a few seconds, the Proximity’s hands move forward or back to display the new time (and date) shown on the phone. When I did this, Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance” quote about quantum entanglement came to mind.

Those of you concerned with split-second timekeeping accuracy may want to note that the iPhone (and other cell phones) do not display “atomic time,” so a synced Proximity will be off by a few seconds compared with a radio-controlled clock. During our test, the synced Proximity ran +7 seconds compared with an RC clock.

Of course all of these syncs and alerts are sent to the watch only if the Bluetooth connection is active. The owner’s manual says the Bluetooth range is 10 meters. In a series of tests in both home and office settings, the range reliably extended between eight and 12 meters, around corners, down hallways, and even through a closed door. When the Bluetooth link is broken, the watch vibrates and the seconds hand points to “LL” (Lost Link) at 9 o’clock.

During my test, the Bluetooth link acted a bit like an invisible leash that took some getting used to. At home and at the office, my phone is often not with me, especially when it’s charging. The first few days wearing the watch, I routinely walked away from the phone, and if I got far enough away, I lost the Bluetooth link. On a few occasions, I made a mental note to reactivate the link when I got back to my phone, which I promptly forgot. (I write most mental notes with disappearing ink.) Few technologies are a match for human error.

I also experienced occasional problems with the Bluetooth link breaking, even when the phone and watch were quite close to each other, for example sitting at a desk reading my iPad with the phone on my belt. The owner’s manual notes that the human body is basically Kryptonite to Bluetooth signals, causing them to weaken and die. One warning reads, “Do not block the watch with your body such as your arm.” This seems an odd warning, given that your arm is always in the proximity of the Proximity.

Fortunately, reestablishing a broken link is easy – just press the upper pusher for two seconds (unless the seconds hand is pointing to “LL,” in which case you have to push the button once to restart the seconds hand, then again the reactivate the link). Or, you can use the crown to change the mode to “CT.” If the watch and phone are within Bluetooth range, they will quickly link up.

The strap is perforated on the outside and a sporty green shade on the inside.
The strap is perforated on the outside and a sporty green shade on the inside.
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  1. Robert Harper

    My guess is that we are seeing the end of the Swiss watch industry as we know it. The next generation of watches (Swiss, others) will be some combination of a Smart Watch and a traditional watch because that is apparently what the current generation knows and seemingly wants. It may not be what the Swiss watchmakers want but they almost died when quartz watches came along. I see a similar revolution beginning now and the astute Swiss watch companies will jump on the background or go out of business. Sure, traditional high-end watches will still enjoy a good market and I will continue to wear my Rolex Day Date … which I have worn most of the time for about 45 years … but I am 84 and do not want nor need a watch that tells me what my iPhone already tells me. Still, my two teenage granddaughters can’t wait until they get a new Apple watch and the idea of wearing an old-fashioned mechanical watch like I do is out of the question for them. I think they reflect the coming watch market far better than I.

    • Robert Harper

      It should say bandwagon, not background in line 5

  2. srhardy

    So this proves they have the tech, BT4.0, solar and smart phone integration but its done all wrong.

    1. a world time watch, that uses GPS/BT4 sync to keep correct
    2. easy at last to set perpetual calendar (all phone settings, like alarms, calendar reminders)
    3. smooth sweep, they have it from BOLOVA and with solar its a no-brainer tech
    4. smart power, battery so it hibernates to save power when not in sun, or worn
    5. mutil color ring (UV) lighting, for email, message ect… with vibrate/silent mode
    6. with tritium to make them stand out at night!

    All these things would rock, but an 18 page how to says they have it all wrong!

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