Learning About Time at Citizen Watch

Last week I visited Citizen Watch’s Times Square flagship store in New York City for Time, Space and Innovation, an event to celebrate the its newest timepiece: the Satellite Wave-World Time GPS.

The evening was a crash course in the science of time, a true treat for this gal, who has not set foot in a classroom in years—and never a physics classroom. 

The event featured talks from three experts in the field of time. Brian Greene, a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, spoke about time and Einstein; Oded Aharonson, professor of earth and planetary sciences at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, spoke about telling time in space; and Jay Spring, vice president of technical support for Citizen, spoke about the company’s history with technology leading up to the science behind the Satellite Wave-World Time GPS.

Greene shared is that time is still in many ways a true mystery: What is it we are actually measuring, we just don’t know, he said.

What we do know, he said, is that all objects do not experience time at the same rate. This is the theory of relativity. (I had, of course heard of this, but as he explained it, I felt like I truly understood it for the first time. Thank you, Professor!) 

He also explained why relativity matters in the world of watches: In order for a clock to be accurate, it must take into account the theory and effects of relativity, otherwise, it will become inaccurate within days.

Aharonson, who works with NASA in addition to his research, explained how scientists tell time in space—including on the Mars! 

In space, keeping better time means better science, he said.

Aharonson said that the new watch rivaled many of NASA’s tools for timekeeping (though NASA still has a few more accurate devices up its sleeve) and definitely outshines civilian watches. The average watch loses accuracy at a rate of approximately 5 seconds a day. Citizen’s previous Satellite models lost accuracy at a rate of approximately 5 seconds a month. The Satellite Wave-World Time GPS loses accuracy only at one-twentieth of a second per day.

The watch uses the power of four GPS satellites to tell accurate time: At three seconds, the watch has the world’s fastest signal reception speed from GPS satellites. Citizen’s Eco-Drive technology allows the watch to be powered by any light, not just solar light, so the watch never needs a battery.

Jeffrey Cohen, president of Citizen Watch Company of America said, “We could not be more pleased to introduce our important new advancements in Citizen Satellite Wave technology with this stellar team of leaders from the worlds of science, space, and innovation. This event is an exciting acknowledgement of our brand’s extraordinary history in technological firsts.

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(Photo courtesy Citizen Watch)