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