Counter Sync: Reviewing the Citizen Proximity

The invisible leash does have a positive use – it can literally save you from losing your phone. If you put your phone down, for example at the grocery store check-out, then walk away without it, the lost link alert will let you know you’ve left your phone behind. Perhaps Apple should provide its iPhone developers with Proximities when they head out to the bars with prototype phones on their belts.

If you do manage to lose your iPhone, the Proximity can also help you locate it, assuming the phone is within Bluetooth range. Pressing both of the pushers on the watch at the same time causes a connected phone to play a loud, marimba-style melody, even if the phone is in silent mode. If the Bluetooth link is not active when you begin your search, pushing both buttons can activate the link once you get within range. This type of search resembles looking for your lost car in a large parking lot, with one big difference: you won’t be able to find your phone, unlike your car, if it is powered off.


Circling back to the Proximity’s dial indications, the small white hand on the display at 2 o’clock has multiple functions, depending on which mode the watch is in. In most modes, including time display, the hand indicates the power reserve, which, thanks to Eco-Drive − Citizen’s system for producing energy from light − is pretty good. Citizen says the power reserve in normal use, connected to an iPhone, is eight months, and 17 months when the watch is not connected to an iPhone.

“Normal use” is defined as the watch being synced with the phone six hours per day, and receiving 10 alerts per day. The owner’s manual suggests that the watch be kept close to full charge with regular exposure to light – preferably sunlight, which provides the fastest charge. If the watch goes 30 minutes without being exposed to sufficient light to charge it, it goes into power-save mode and the seconds hand stops ticking, though the hour and minutes hands continue to indicate the time. Power-save mode is automatically cancelled as soon as the watch is exposed to light.

When reestablishing a Bluetooth connection, the small, white hand at 2 o’clock points to “On” or “Off” to indicate the link status. In calendar mode, it points to the day of the week.

Put the watch in chronograph mode, and the seconds hand goes to zero. In this mode, the seconds hand is no longer part of the alert system. The small white hand at 2 o’clock becomes the chronograph minutes counter. This display’s small size, coupled with the lack of numerals identifying elapsed minutes, makes reading it a challenge. In chronograph mode, the hour and minutes hands continue to keep time.

When you start the chronograph, the seconds hand makes a quick trip around the dial before beginning to count the seconds. After making this trip, it pauses briefly at 12 o’clock (or zero) before it begins counting the elapsing seconds. This odd behavior, coupled with the minutes counter’s poor legibility, render the chronograph less than ideal for timing events where split-second accuracy is important.

The Proximity also offers a local time mode (“LTM”) that quickly resets all of the time displays (day, date, hours, minutes, seconds, and 12/24 hours) to a second time zone.

Nighttime viewing options are limited to the hours and minutes. The Proximity uses Citizen’s proprietary luminous material. It’s applied sparingly, with only small amounts at the hour markers and the tips of the hands. Other indicators do not light up. Two hours after a full charge, you’ll have to let your eyes adjust to the darkness for a few seconds to read the time, and the luminous material loses its charge entirely after about five hours.

Like any Bluetooth device – even one using low-energy 4.0 – the Proximity will affect the iPhone’s battery life. For that reason, the link between the watch and the phone will automatically be terminated after six hours of continuous use.

At the end of the day, the Proximity presents a combination of attractive pros and off-putting cons. On the plus side, the time sync makes it a good travel watch. The alerts, though limited, are useful, and the abilities to both warn you that you’re walking away from your phone and to find your phone if it’s lost can by themselves save you the cost of the watch.

The case is stealth fighter meets Batmobile.
The case is stealth fighter meets Batmobile.

On the down side, there are no text message alerts, the Bluetooth link breaks with some frequency, and of course non-iPhone owners are out of the picture entirely.

It seems clear that the watch is not intended to be worn with the Bluetooth link enabled full time. Given that, the sync options offer what might be called situation-specific convenience. If you understand the pros and cons going in, you should be happy with the purchase.  And if you wear one, you won’t be pulled over by the fashion police.


+ First analog sync watch

+ Eco-Drive powered Bluetooth 4.0

+ Alerts for e-mail, calls and calendar

+ Electronic leash protects your iPhone


– Limited phone and e-mail compatibility

– No text message alerts

– Bluetooth link frequently lost


Manufacturer: Citizen Holdings Co., Ltd., 6-1-12, Tanashi-cho, Nishi-Tokyo-shi, Tokyo 188-8511

Reference number: AT7035-01E

Functions: Hours, minutes, central seconds, date, perpetual calendar, chronograph, local time, power-reserve indication, 24-hour indicator, connection status indicator, Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity compatible with iPhone 4S and 5, iPhone locator, alerts for e-mail, calls, scheduled events, lost link, communication processing

Movement: Caliber W760 with solar charging

Case: 316L stainless steel with black ion coating, flat mineral glass crystal with anti-reflective coating, screw-in caseback, water resistant to 100 meters

Strap and clasp: Leather with nylon lining and polyurethane top layer with green accents; stainless-steel tang buckle with black ion coating

Dimensions: 45.0 mm wide x 14.5 mm thick

Variations: With untreated stainless-steel case and blue accents (ref. AT7030-05E, $495)

Price: $495

This article first appeared in the June 2013 issue of WatchTime Magazine.

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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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