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Atomic Time Keeping: Radio Controlled watches

Geplaatst op 29-05-2024 door Marc Hut

You can buy watches with all kinds of comprehensive and useful functions. Altimeters, depth gauges, chronographs, you name it and you will find a watch equipped with these tools. You would almost forget that a good timepiece must excel in one thing above all: accurate timekeeping. A watch with Atomic Time Keeping just does that. It uses a radio signal from the atomic clock to stay on time. And the atomic clock is the most accurate in time display. In this watch news you'll read about watches with an atomic clock. 

What is an atomic clock

An atomic clock is a clock controlled by the vibrations of atoms. Those atoms vibrate very constantly and at a very high frequency. They vibrate so constantly that you can set a clock to time. An atomic clock, in other words. The atomic clock is therefore incredibly accurate with a deviation of no more than 1 second per 5 billion years...

What is an atomic clock used for?

In fact, we all use technology controlled by an atomic clock. Think of GPS satellites, for example, but also much closer to home we find applications synchronised by an atomic clock: alarm clocks, station clocks, traffic lights, switches. And yes: watches too!

Does a watch contain an atomic clock?

No, there is no atomic clock in a watch. An atomic clock is not going to fit in the average wristwatch because it is a complex, expensive and bulky installation. But a watch can be controlled by an atomic clock. How that works we explain to you.

Horloges zo nauwkeurig als een atoomklok AT9030-55L
Citizen AT9030-55L

Watch with an atomic clock

OK, an atomic clock in a watch is not possible. But you can control a watch with the signal coming from an atomic clock. There are many such watches on the market and Citizen, among others, has a collection of radio-controlled Promasters that pick up the signal from an atomic clock. We even have them in our shop, you can find them here.

Citizen CB5850-86E Promaster Land radiogestuurd horloge
Citizen CB5860-86E

So atomic clock watches receive a signal and use that signal to set the time correctly. This therefore makes this type of timepiece very accurate. So our Citizen radio-controlled watches are actually atomic clock watches.

How accurate is an atomic clock-controlled watch?

The big advantage of an atomic clock watch is that it is very accurate and very precise. These radio-controlled (radio controlled) watches have only a minute deviation. For example, Citizen states that the latest radio-controlled Citizen Promasters have a deviation of no more than 1 second per 1 million years!

Horloges zo nauwkeurig als een atoomklok Citizen BN0150-10E
Citizen JY8085-14H


Always the right atomic clock time!

So with a watch controlled by an atomic clock, you (almost) always have the correct time at hand. Almost, because it is impossible to display 100% correct time. Measured over billions of years, there will always be a slight deviation. Even the atomic clock time has a deviation but is 99.99999999999999 (quite a few more 9s after the decimal point) % accurate.

Looking for a watch that is more than averagely accurate? If so, a radio-controlled watch that receives the signal from an atomic clock is definitely a good choice. 

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