It goes without saying that the Perpetual Chrono A-T collection, also known as PCAT, is one of the most distinguished produced to date by Citizen. At the same time, it’s also one of the most expensive. I prepared this Citizen PCAT review to help you decide whether it warrants the arguably high price tag.
At the time of writing, the PCAT collection consists of 20 watch models. Since I don’t want to take half of your day by describing each of those, in this article I have included the three, in my opinion, best models.
But first, let’s have a general look at the series.
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Citizen PCAT Collection – Overview
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I will put it shortly before we move on to the details. If you are a fan of chronograph watches, you shouldn’t have problems falling head over heels in love with Citizen PCAT.
PCAT series is probably the most feature-rich Citizen collection. Because of that, many users report struggles in the early phase of using these watches. That applies especially to people who are new to chronograph watches.
Amongst others, PCAT watches come with an atomic clock control, perpetual calendar, chronograph, and second time zone indicator. It’s only natural that many will bid their time before being ready to fully enjoy all the perks of the series. As the old saying goes though, “good things come to those who wait”. Once we get accustomed to what PCAT watches have to offer, moving on to something different won’t be easy.
Quality & Pricing
If you have read my Citizen brand review, by now you know that the pricing of their products is pretty flexible. That’s news I always embrace when it comes to watch brands because it means shoppers with contrasting budgets can still get a product they crave for.
Of course, depending on how much you are willing to spend, the standard of the product will differ. In the case of Citizen, I divide the products into three groups based on their price and quality:
- low-end – watches available for less than $200
- mid-end – watches available for more than $200 but less than $500
- high-end – all the watches above $500
If we were to evaluate the collection according to the rules above, we can safely say that a Citizen PCAT watch is a high-end timepiece. Of course, by saying high-end I mean by the brand’s own, solid standards.
We already know that PCATs are in the high-standard group of Citizen watches. Hence, it’s natural to expect them to provide a better overall experience than most of the models in the so-called “lesser” groups. And to be honest, they do. Now let’s see why.
Since PCAT is a chronograph series, the first thing worth noting here is the case size of these watches.
Whereas some models from other collections come with cases that will look great even on the thinnest of wrists, I have my doubts about whether we can say the same about this line. Because of a dial with three additional timers, the case just has to be bigger.
Of the 20 watches available, the smallest one comes with a 42mm case. On the other side of the scale, there are watches with a case diameter as big as 44m. That’s why I think a PCAT watch will look best on people with normal-to-large wrists. All cases are made of stainless steel.
When it comes to the band material, you will be able to choose from stainless steel, genuine leather, plastic and titanium. All of these have one thing in common: they are pretty durable.
Another reason why PCAT watches stand out from many other collections is the quality of the material used to protect the dial. Many low-to-mid-budget Citizen timepieces come with mineral glass windows. These are absolutely fine but they are not anywhere near as secure as what’s on offer with PCATs. The Perpetual Chrono A-T models come with an anti-reflective sapphire crystal. It’s an ultra-scratch-resistant material that reduces optical reflection to a minimum.
As the name of the series suggests, the Perpetual Chrono A-T collection uses a chronograph movement type. Apart from the prime dial with hour, minute and second hands, PCATs include three additional sub-dials.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise when I tell you that all PCAT models are using the Eco-Drive technology. To put it simply, timepieces running on this type of movement, exclusive to Citizen, are solar-powered. Eco-Drive watches are as economical as they come, with some users reporting even 20 years of hassle-free use. You can read more about it here.
All PCAT models use caliber E660 which is one of the more reliable Japanese Quartz movements offered by Citizen. It might not be as accurate as Swiss movement types but the +15 seconds precision is still a very good result for a Japanese Quartz. When fully charged, the watch will work without additional charging for approximately 10 months in normal use. If you decide to use the power-saving functions 24/7, that period increases to 3 years. You can read all the details about this particular movement type here.
Similarly to all other Eco-Drive watches, Citizen offers a 5-year International Warranty on all PCAT models. Such a lengthy warranty period is definitely something that gives Citizen an upper hand over many other brands.
At the same time, it needs to be mentioned that the 5-year period applies only to purchases made in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and the UK. For other regions, different terms might apply. As an example, for EU countries it’s down to 2 years. Make sure to check on the warranty terms specifically for your region before going ahead with the purchase.
Citizen PCAT Watch Reviews (My Top 3 Picks)
If what you have read so far sounds good to you, we can now explore some of the models in more detail. To give you further food for thought, below you can find my 3 favorite PCAT watches. Bear in mind that most of the models come with exactly the same or very similar features. Hence, my selection was based mostly on looks.
Citizen AT4004-52E Review
I have a thing for stainless steel timepieces so it won’t come as much of a surprise that AT4004-52E is my winner here.
This particular PCAT model presents a very classy two-tone design. The whole body of this watch is made of stainless steel, with silver as the predominant color. There are lots of gold elements on the watch case and the bracelet as well. The bracelet uses a popular amongst stainless steel watches push-button deployment clasp. It’s safe and easy to use but bear in mind that in case you need to adjust its size, you will have to bring it to a professional.
Another reason why I like this watch the most from the entire PCAT line is the case size. Since my wrist is pretty slender, the 42mm diameter of this model is still okay for me. And I think it will look good on most people, too.
All cases of PCATs include a tachymeter bezel. To put it shortly, it’s a tool that allows you to measure speed based on time traveled over a fixed distance
The black dial fits in really nicely with other elements of this timepiece and is protected by a scratch-resistant non-reflective sapphire crystal. The watch comes with gold luminous hands that ensure a comfortable time reading after dusk. There’s also a date calendar located at 4 o’clock.
On that feature-rich dial, you will find a 1-second chronograph measuring up to 60 minutes, a perpetual calendar that’s radio-controlled in 5 different time zones, and a timer with 12- and 24-hour times. This model also comes with a power reserve indicator. All the neat features described here are made possible thanks to the Japanese quartz movement type – Caliber E650.
Last but not least, the model boasts an impressive 200m water resistance, making it a safe choice for activities such as recreational scuba diving.
Citizen AT4000-02E Review
If leather watches are what you normally go for, then this one shouldn’t look out of place on your wrist. In total, there are 4 Citizen PCAT watches with leather straps available and I picked AT4000-02E for two reasons. Firstly, it has the most elegant look and secondly, at the time of writing, it is available at the lowest price. Hence, it’s my Citizen Perpetual Chrono Calendar budget pick.
As far as classic watch designs go, it’s hard to imagine something more vintage than a black leather strap and a silver-tone stainless steel case combo. The black dial with silver hands and timers further complements the iconic look. Unlike my top pick, this model uses a standard buckle-type closure. In this aspect, it holds a little advantage over the watch above as you can adjust it yourself.
Similarly to the first model discussed, this watch comes with a 42mm case which should look okay on most wrist sizes. As with all models, there are two additional buttons on both sides of the crown that clearly stand out. You will be using those to unlock the rich list of features PCATs offer.
For maximum protection possible, the dial window is made of anti-reflective sapphire crystal. The material is extremely popular among many top brands and is known for its ultra scratch-resistant properties. The dial of this model features all the perks of the model above, with the color of the hands and timers being the only notable difference between the two watches.
The next on the list of similarities between the two timepieces are the movement (Caliber E650) and 200m water resistance. Although the watch mechanisms won’t break underwater, I definitely don’t recommend going too crazy with swimming while wearing leather-strap watches. When in frequent contact with water, they tend to wear off quickly and then there’s also “that” characteristic scent.
Citizen AT4008-51E Review
If you are not too fond of the gold-tone elements present in my favorite model and leather strap timepieces are not your thing either, then Citizen AT4008-51E is an additional option for you to consider.
Similarly to my top pick, this model is made fully of stainless steel. Unsurprisingly then, the bracelet comes with a push-button deployment clasp. Again, this type of closure is a standard and safe choice but you have to keep in mind that it’s difficult to adjust the bracelet’s size on your own. Hence, many will find the tang buckle closure used in the leather strap model above an appealing alternative.
The case size in this watch is exactly the same as in the two picks above. At 42mm in diameter, I consider it a good fit for most wrist sizes. If it can look okay on my mini-wrist, it will look good on any!
What differentiates this model from the other stainless steel watch on this list are the colors used with the bracelet, bezel and dial. Whereas my top pick comes with gold-tone elements, this one seems to boast a more unified design. The bracelet includes light silver-tone details and the bezel around the watch case is pitch black. Also, it’s easy to notice that the dial color is closer to dark grey than black. Of course, the silver hands of the timepiece are luminous.
Just like any Citizen PCAT watch, this model comes with a sapphire crystal dial window. Behind that window, you will find all the features offered by the other 2 watches on the list, and that is:
- 1-second chronograph
- perpetual calendar
- 12- and 24-hour timers
- power reserve indicator
- date calendar
The AT4008-51E model, just like its predecessors, is water-resistant up to 200m. And, unlike the leather strap timepiece, you can enjoy a long swim without worrying about any band damage.
Review of Citizen PCAT Collection: Conclusion
I hope that my Citizen PCAT review has provided you with some extra clues on whether these watches are a good fit for you.
To sum up, I won’t go overboard if I say that the Perpetual Chrono A-T collection is the most feature-rich line produced by Citizen to date. The number of fancy features these watches possess is so big that many users will take time to get into the swing of things. The group that’s at the highest “risk” here are people who have never owned a chronograph watch before. The truth is, Citizen PCATs are not the easiest models to set up but once you grasp how they work, they are likely to bring you years of hassle-free use and joy.
Because of so many different functions that include a tachymeter, perpetual calendar, 1-second chronograph and a solar-powered movement, PCATs are one of the most expensive Citizen watches. At the same time, it’s hard to argue that they are also one of the premium products the Japanese company has released. If paying between $300-$500 sits fine with you, you are highly unlikely to feel let down by this iconic collection.