Radio controlled wristwatches are a relatively new invention within the horological timeline. The technology behind these highly precise watches has existed since the 1950s, but it was only in 1991 that Junghans managed to miniaturise this technology into the form of the radio controlled Mega 1 wristwatch. This timepiece made history as the first ever radio-controlled wristwatch to exist, and in the following years, many brands have followed Junghans lead.
Radio controlled watches are ultra-precise timepieces that are able to correct themselves with an impressively high degree of accuracy. They are the perfect addition to any collection as they are entirely dependable and reliable. Keep reading for our top 5 radio-controlled watches for 2021.
What is a Radio-Controlled Watch? How Do They Work?
Radio-controlled watches are ultra-precise timepieces that connect to atomic clocks to ensure they always display the exact time. This is a desirable feature as most watches are merely time counting devices that simply add up the time that has passed. This can lead to standard watches losing or gaining seconds per day, which if left uncorrected could cause them to be significantly out of time. A significant advantage of radio-controlled watches is that they adjust themselves to account for leap years, daylight saving time, and other similar events, so the wearer will never have to worry about keeping track and adjusting the watch themselves.
Over the years, watchmakers and scientists have focused on creating the most accurate timepieces possible that make use of modern technologies. Their goal is to have all timekeeping devices perfectly synchronised to Coordinated Universal Time. This time is maintained by atomic clocks. Radio-controlled watches have an antenna to pick up the radio signals that emit the precise time from these clocks and use a circuit to decode the transmission and adjust the display accordingly. This ensures that the watch is always displaying the time as precisely as possible.
In the UK, the time signals are broadcasted by the MSF. It is transmitted from Anthorn Radio Station in Cumbria by Babcock International. The transmission is contracted and controlled by the National Physics Laboratory. The majority of radio-controlled clocks and watches synchronise with this transmission at night to ensure minimal disruption of the timepiece whilst it is being used during the day. Some advanced radio-controlled clocks synchronise with the signal multiple times a day. This can make them accurate to plus or minus half a second per day. This level of precision is unachievable with conventional timekeeping devices, making radio-controlled watches all the more appealing.
What is an Atomic Clock?
The best atomic clocks are accurate to within two nanosecond per day. This means that they will only ever fall out of time by one second in 1.4 million years. Radio-controlled watches benefit greatly from this level of accuracy and therefore keep their wearer in perfect time too.
Atomic clocks are powered by a quartz movement, much like most standard wristwatches. However, these ultra-precise clocks benefit from pulsating atoms. This means that atomic clocks are not impacted by outside forces, such as temperature, in the same way that normal clocks are. Caesium atomic clocks have a quartz oscillator that moves at the frequency of exactly 9,192,631,770 Hz and produces microwaves. If the frequency is correct, the microwaves will have the correct amount of energy to shift the atoms to their higher energy state. If this does not occur and some of the atoms have remained in their lower energy state, then the frequency is incorrect. A feedback mechanism detects this and can adjust the frequency of the oscillator, therefore correcting the time.
Top 5 Radio Controlled Watches for 2021
Junghans created the first radio-controlled wristwatch in 1991 and therefore have a lot of experience in creating these incredibly accurate and precise timepieces. This model features a chic grey dial with a date aperture at 3 o’clock. The wearer can always be certain that the dial will display the correct date and time due to the radio-controlled technology that resides within the watch. The slim silver hands complement the dark dial and match the stainless-steel pin buckle that the watch fastens with. The watch also has luminous hands and indices to ensure for optimal readability, even in the dark. The watch is splash resistant, so it will be able to withstand the small amounts of water it may encounter with daily wear but should not come into direct contact with water. This watch is finished with a grey leather strap that has turquoise contrast stitching, giving this otherwise traditional watch a hint of contemporary design.
This radio-controlled model has the additional benefit of being powered by Citizen’s iconic Eco-Drive technology. This means that the watch is powered solely by light. Due to the combination of Eco-Drive and radio-controlled technology, the wearer would never have to worry about changing the battery or adjusting the time. This model has a classic appearance, with a 43mm super titanium case surrounding a black dial that features a globe design. The watch has a world timer inner bezel with a perpetual calendar, and a date aperture at 3 o’clock. These features will always keep perfect time due to the radio-controlled technology within the watch. This model is water-resistant up to 100 metres (10 bar), meaning that it will be able to withstand some water-based activities. The movement is also anti-magnetic so it will not be disrupted by magnetic forces, making it even more precise and reliable.
This dress watch has an eye-catching silver dial with rose gold-coloured hands and indices. This two-tone design is very on-trend and will ensure that this watch will match any other accessories in a jewellery collection. The traditional style of this watch makes it suitable for all occasions, whether it be the office or a party. The dial is a comfortable size of 41mm, making it easy to read, even at a glance. It is surrounded by a stainless-steel case. This model is splash resistant, making it practical for everyday wear, although it should not come into direct contact with water. It will sit comfortably on the wrist as it weighs only 54 grams. The watch is finished with a classic brown leather strap that fastens with a pin buckle. Despite the watch’s deceptively simple design, it houses an ultra-precise radio-controlled quartz movement, so the wearer will always be able to keep perfect time.
This bright ladies’ model will certainly stand out with its white and silver colour scheme. The mother-of-pearl dial features eight diamond indices and a digital date display. This combination of classic and modern creates an interesting contrast within the design of the watch that makes it both practical and stylish. The dial is protected by scratch-resistant sapphire glass and framed by a 35.6mm stainless-steel case. A solar-powered quartz movement powers the watch, so paired with the radio-controlled technology, this means that the wearer will not have to change the battery or adjust the time. The watch can be relied upon to display an accurate and precise time without any interference from the wearer. This watch is finished with a white ceramic and stainless-steel bracelet which gives a chic and elegant finish to this high-tech and precise timepiece.
This Citizen model has a very busy dial with 3 sub dials, a date display, a perpetual calendar, a power reserve indicator and a 24-hour display. In a traditional watch, this many complications would create additional work for the wearer as they would need to ensure that each one remained in time. This radio-controlled model ensures that each complication is precise and accurate by synchronising itself with radio transmissions. This means that the wearer can simply enjoy the watch and its features without needing to worry about frequent adjustments. This watch is an Eco-Drive model, meaning that it takes power from light in order to power the watch. It has a large 43mm dial, ensuring that each complication is easy to read, and luminescent indices and hands so it can be read in the dark. The watch is water-resistant up to 200 metres (20 bar), making it suitable for most water-based activities. This model is finished with a classic brown leather strap that perfectly complements the cream dial. The multitude of complications, Eco-Drive, and radio-controlled technology make this watch the perfect addition to any collection.
What are your opinions on our top 5 radio-controlled watches for 2021? Will you be adding any of them to your collection? Let us know in the comments below!