I’m the sort of person who seldom buys watches on impulse unless the particular timepiece exerts a powerful influence on me that I had to go ahead and pull the trigger on one.
The saying goes like so: “a fool and his money will soon be parted". Nothing could be further than the truth but in my case, I was a happy fool anyway! 🙂
After owning my first ever Citizen Eco Drive – a Nighthawk BJ7017-59ET, a watch that I had procrastinated buying for years, the leather-clad BJ7010-16F needed no further introduction for me. I knew how lovable a Nighthawk could be once I got accustomed to its looks and err…quartz based movement.
The Nighthawk BJ7017-16F debuted for the Asian market sometime in late 2005 but it wasn’t until the following year I caught sight of this very attractive sports/dress watch in a local watch store not far from my office.
Although the bracelet version Nighthawks had been around for several years, Citizen finally upped their ante by offering models with factory fitted leather straps with deployant push-button based clasps.
There’s an interesting twist though – instead of the traditional all-black dial the leather strap Nighthawks were initially introduced in two interesting dial variations – black with a white rotating slide rule ring and an-all brown dial model. Since then additional leather strap models also joined the lineup – a blue dial and an all-black dial version.
I first spotted the white bezel BJ7010-16F from the Watches88.com sales website and thought it looked like the perfect companion for my stainless steel braceleted BJ7010-59ET Nighthawk.
Top: The brown Nighthawk (BJ7010-24W) and the one which caught my eye, the BJ7010-16F (right). Pics courtesy of Watches88.com
Obviously, artfully Photoshop enhanced montages only tell you half the story. I had to see the BJ7010-16F for myself. I didn’t think this model would be available at the local watch stores that I was familiar with. It wasn’t until mid March 2006 when I caught sight of a lone BJ7010-16F Nighthawk in the wild.
I happened to be wearing my stainless steel Nighthawk and placed it alongside the leather strapped model for comparison. The BJ7010-16F, surprisingly presented itself as a dressier variation of the all-black dialed Nighthawk. It wasn’t just the factory leather strap from Citizen – the white slide rule inner ring actually gave it a distinct character. I thought it kind of reminds me of some ultra-expensive Breitling pilot’s watch. 🙂
Top: A cellphone photo of the BJ7010-16F next to my first Nighthawk (left) at the watch store, before I purchased it.
A month passed and I discovered that Citizen Nighthawk was still sitting prettily on the same store’s display shelf. It was same piece I photographed a month ago and the sales assistant told me that the watch didn’t generate much interest from her regular and walk-in customers.
After a bit of haggling, I returned to my workplace after lunchtime happy like a kid with a brand new toy. :-) The BJ7010-16F was a watch that was too good to resist. I thought that the combination of the white dial ring and factory leather strap justified my purchase.
Since the introduction of the BJ7010-24W and BJ7010-16F, Citizen also later added two more new variants – a turquoise blue dial with a white dial ring, the BJ7010-59L and a braceleted version of the brown dialed BJ7010-24W, the BJ7017-24WT.
These models are meant for the Southeast Asian market. Nighthawks for Japan, North America and Europe have different and better specifications, e.g. synchronization with atomic time clock radio stations and sapphire glass for the stainless steel models for example.
Top: The blue BJ7010-59L and the brown BJ7017-24WT, both on stainless steel bracelet. Photos from Chronograph.com
So far, I can never figure out Citizen’s reference number convention, because the company uses different numbers for their leather strap and bracelet models. In my opinion, Seiko’s nomenclature for its watches is much easier to understand and to memorize.
Look and feel
There’s not much to differentiate the BJ7010-16F apart from the BJ7017-59ET that I already own except from a visual point of view. It’s aesthetically pleasing to the eye and you could say it’s a dressier version of the braceleted Nighthawk.
The screw-in crown locks in place with less than two twists with my thumb and index finger. I’m not sure why Citizen didn’t etch more spiral grooves into the crown stem because the crown unscrews too easily for my personal taste. I have this odd habit of playing with the crown of whatever watch I wear and the Nighthawk’s crown pops out in less than 2 turns. It’s that sensitive.
I figured out that this watch isn’t a diver anyway, therefore Citizen probably felt it wasn’t necessary to design the crown so that it needs a couple of turns before it locks and unlocks. True, the Nighthawk’s water resistance may be rated to 200m but it was never designed for scuba diving in the first place.
Above: The Nighthawk’s knurled locking crown is easy to grip but could do with extra turns. It unscrews just too easily 🙁
Another pet peeve of mine is that the Nighthawk’s crown lacks tactile feedback when pulling it out to the first or second detent positions. It’s often a hit-or-miss issue for me and it’s tricky to gauge whether the crown is at the unscrewed position or the date setting position.
I finally got myself to memorize which direction of the crown to turn in order to set the date. Unlike most of my Seiko watches that change the date when the crown is turned clockwise, with my Citizens it’s always anti-clockwise.
To make it easy for me to remember, I conjured up and memorized this funny yet simple formula:
CitizeN = twist dowNwards (anti-clockwise)
The reason I had to remember this properly was because if I accidentally turned the crown upwards (or clockwise direction), the hour hand would move and it would upset my original time zone setting.
The B877 caliber also has a strange quirk in which the hour hand doesn’t quite align itself perfectly to the hour index markers relative to the minute hand.
When the crown is at the first position, it adjusts the date when twisted counter-clockwise and a clockwise turn will advance the hour hand to compensate for daylight saving hours or switching to a different time zone. Pulling the crown further to the second detent hacks the sweep second hand for the main time adjustment.
The BJ7010-16F follows the non-U.S. market Nighthawk tradition of having a nice relief caseback with a matte finish. The U.S. Nighthawk version has a flat, mirror-like caseback with laser etchings whose common complaint is that it easily gathers fingerprints and grime.
Above: Front and rear photos of the BJ7010-16F. Note the nicely machined three-dimensional relief caseback
The factory fitted leather strap has a fully adjustable deployant clasp with twin push buttons and a nicely signed clasp. There are no holes, no strap pins and no end strap keepers like traditional straps. The clasp holds its position by friction means and you can easily slide the position of the clasp with precision to suit your wrist size perfectly.
Admittedly, I was a total newbie with this kind of strap and had no idea how to adjust it for my 6.5" wrist. I fumbled at dealing with the excess strap end and initially folded it in half instead of allowing it to wrap along my wrist! 🙂
Above: The BJ7010-16F on my wrist and a close-up of the signed strap buckle (right).
The lume material used in Nighthawks, including this one is initially not as bright as the type used for some Seiko models like the Monsters, Sawtooth, Knights and Sumo divers but it has a more gradual fading characteristic than Seiko’s LumiBrite.
I can read the time in the dark into the wee hours of the morning, no issues at all. The blue Superluminova is applied quite evenly, a testament to Citizen’s high quality assurance standards.
Dual time feature
One functional attribute of the Nighthawk that most people don’t readily notice about this watch is its dual time feature. It’s probably debatable whether the Nighthawk is a true GMT timepiece but I’ll refer this watch as a dual time-capable watch rather than a true GMT watch.
The BJ7010-16F Nighthawk comes with a second time zone hand, which makes one complete revolution every 12 hours (traditional GMT hands spin across the dial once in a 24-hour period).
Instead of using a conventional long 24-hour indicator hand, the Nighthawk ingeniously makes use of two scales in separate arcs. The inner arc (in white) indicates A.M. while the outer arc (in red) shows the P.M. hours.
Citizen could have squeezed the entire 24 hour markers in a single arc but doing so would mean the numbers would be too small to read, rendering it impractical to tell the second time zone. Furthermore, the 24-hour hand would have to be a retrograde hand arrangement. This makes such a movement more complicated and possibly more expensive to produce.
To compensate for the twin 12-hour scales, the dual time zone hand has two ends with one being longer than the other. At any point in time only one of the hands would be resting across the scales, while the other would be outside the arcs.
Reading the dual time scale is simple once you’ve gotten used to it. The shorter white pointer rests precisely on the inner white AM scale while the longer red pointer stretches out to the red PM scale. In short, the color coordination actually helps in reading the second time zone. 🙂
Top: In this example, the dual time zone hand is indicating close to 2300 hours (11 PM)
Setting the time
Setting the watch to the desired time zone is not that overly complicated as long as you follow this simple procedure:
Set the dual time hand to the desired time (in my case, I prefer GMT) first instead of local time. This is because the the dual time hand is directly driven by the main time hands.
If you prefer the second time zone to follow the local time instead, set the hand to match the current local time. Ensure that the dual time hand corresponds to the correct AM/PM scale.
Use the main hour hand compensation feature to the time zone you are in, if you prefer the second time zone to indicate a different time zone.
The Nighthawk’s hour compensation mechanism has some degree of slack in it and may not precisely point to the hour. In this case at 9 o’clock, the hands should be perfectly perpendicular with one another at 90 degrees, they unfortunately aren’t. This could be attributed to the hour hand compensating mechanism that the Nighthawk uses.
I noted that my BJ7010-16F has a slightly better alignment than my earlier BJ7017-59ET Nighthawk. Your mileage may vary. 🙂
Top: A time exposure photo of my BJ7010-16F showing off its blue lumed hands and markers
The BJ7010-16F’s vital statistics are as follows:
Diameter: 42mm (w/o crown), 46mm (w/ crown)
Lug width: 22mm
The watch is about medium thick and lies flatly on the wrist without much wiggling about, thanks to the notch-less clasp adjustment. At 13mm thickness it should be a little snug fitting beneath long sleeved shirt cuffs.
Above: Wrist shots of my Citizen Promaster BJ7010-16F, sized for a 6.5" wrist.
The white rotating E6B slide rule ring gives it a somewhat different appearance than the more common, all-black Nighthawk that I already owned. Nice! 🙂
Movement type: Solar powered quartz, 32kHz crystal
Loss/gain: Less than 15 sec/month
Construction: Stainless steel
Crystal: Mineral glass, flat profiled
W.R. Rating: 200m
Luminous material: Superluminova
Power reserve: Approximately 6 months
Battery type: Internal rechargeable lithium-ion
Movement Japan, cased in Japan
The Citizen BJ7017-16F Nighthawk is a rather handsome timepiece with a perfectly matching factory issued leather strap. Citizen didn’t cut any corner with this top notch strap for sure.
Although you can swap the stock strap with alternative ones, I think the standard one that comes with this model was exactly what I was looking for in the first place.
Citizen’s Eco Drive solar powered technology has matured over the past decade and you should have no troubles with this Nighthawk in the long term. I’ve often read about Seiko’s problems with its Kinetic earlier capacitors and hassles of getting their lithium ion cells fully recharged but seldom come across complaints on premature failures of Citizen Eco Drive solar panels or its rechargeable cells.
Since the source of energy for the Nighthawk is light (and light is virtually free!) you can easily keep a Citizen Eco Drive watch fully charged by exposing it to light. I make it a point to recharge all my five Eco Drive watches under my fluorescent table lamp overnight at least once a month.
Above: Charge your Eco Drives only under cool fluorescent bulbs. They’re also energy saving! 🙂
On a related note, avoid charging solar powered watches like the Nighthawk in direct sunlight or close to a halogen or powerful incandescent bulb table lamp if you can. Direct sunlight is not only hot, it’s also rich in UV (ultraviolet) rays that can fade the watch dial over time.
The high temperatures of artificial light sources like a 100W bulb and a 50W halogen lamp will increase the surface temperature of the watch’s solar panels, dramatically shortening their life span. Table lamp charging should be of the fluorescent bulb type.
With my Seiko Kinetics, I am forced to constantly wear them to get them fully charged even when I don’t feel like wearing a Kinetic. I have experienced near-dead Kinetics due to lack of wearing but all of my Citizen Eco Drives have plenty of reserve power due to my frequent charging habits.
Of course, there’s the easier solution, which is to invest in a Seiko Kinetic Energy Supplier charger – but that would mean additional costs to me. 🙁
What I liked:
200m water resistance
Surprisingly good factory leather strap with deployant clasp and twin push buttons
Exotic dial appearance, thanks to the white slide rule dial ring
Blue colored lume
E6B flight rule calculator
Dual time capability
Eco-Drive solar powered movement
22mm regular lugs
What I didn’t care for:
Excess play in the hour hand (it’s a Nighthawk quirk, unfortunately)
Date window a bit too small
Second hand doesn’t line up precisely to minute markers