Thinking about yet another Swiss or Germany made B-Uhr clone? The new Citizen Alterna Pilot Eco-Drive is an inexpensive pilot’s watch that sports a refreshingly cool dial layout and a high-grade Japanese Eco-Drive Cal. 8637 quartz movement. And its medium-sized stainless steel body, which is attached to the wrist with a black NATO strap, is treated with cool-looking black PVD coating.
Do you know what the worst thing about the Japanese is? They make a lot of affordable and high-quality stuff and keep it to themselves. There is even a special abbreviation for it called JDM: Japanese Domestic Market stuff.
In the automotive world it is Toyota Vanguard and special edition Subaru Impreza STi, in the world of timepieces it is an expensive Citizen Campanola and a very affordable Citizen Pro-Master, and a great number of other things that we, Gaikoku-jin, can’t even dream about, because we don’t know these things exist, for starters.
However, thanks to the legions of Internet marketers that push JDM stuff on their web-sites and eBay, you have a good chance to acquire a watch that not only looks good, but is also powered by one of the most advanced movements in the world. Of course, it is not as advanced as the engines currently installed in expensive timepieces from IWC and other A-list Swiss Manufactures, however, at a price of well below $300, it easily trumps even twice more expensive “Swiss Made” offerings in terms of quality and accuracy. And, being an eco-drive movement, it doesn’t need to have its battery replaced every now and then.
As you can see, the Citizen Alterna Pilot Eco-Drive (ref. VO10-6832T) is a typical B-Uhr model that features an instrument-style dial with broad sword-shaped hands covered in a thick layer of Lumibright and rather large, high-contrast Arabic numerals that are highly legible even in the worst lighting conditions.
The data representation on its black dial is also quite refreshing. While standard European watches usually display day of week and date in “DOW”/”DD” format, the Citizen Alterna Pilot Eco-Drive uses a chronograph-like tri-compax dial layout with a counter at 9 o’clock displaying days of week, and the counter at 12 o’clock pointing to the current date of month.
Of course, such a layout requires some getting used to it, but I feel like I definitely love it. Again, it is not that often that you can see such a layout on a normal “Swiss Made” watch. They also added an extra military-style 24-hour display to make the dial look more balanced, although it would be much more ergonomic if they simply equipped the watch with a day/night indicator: the dial is rather small and it takes some strain on the eyes to decipher its readings.
Anyway, it is a gorgeous B-Uhr-style watch, which is selling at an outrageously low price. If you are not shy on buying on eBay, go for it!
Citizen Alterna Pilot Eco-Drive watch specification:
Price range: $250
Movement: Citizen Cal.8637, quartz, Eco-Drive
Functions: Date, day of week, 24-hour indicator
Power reserve: No data
Case material: Stainless steel in black PVD
Bezel material: Stainless steel in black PVD
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 42.5 mm
Case height: 11.2 mm
Water resistance: 100 m
Strap: NATO-style nylon band
Case back: Solid