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How to set an Eco-Drive watch

I got an Citizen Eco-Drive watch off eBay a few of months ago. As I blogged, the instructions for setting it are incomprehensible. So I posted my own instructions into the entry for Eco-Drive at Wikipedia . But I’m afraid an editor will take it down since I think Wikipedia doesn’t like “how-to” articles. So, I’m going to post it here, just in case.

How to set a Citizen Eco-Drive watch

The English-language instructions for setting Eco-Drive watches are close to incomprehensible. Here are instructions for one particular model – BL5XXX – that probably hold for similar Eco-Drive watches. This particular model has three small dials in addition to the main face, two buttons and a stem. Its functionality includes an alarm clock, a chronograph (i.e., stop watch) and a perpetual calendar.

Here is how these instructions will refer to the various elements of the watch:

Main Face: The place where the main minute, hour and second hands are.
Dial A: The upper left small dial numbered up to 24. Underneath it says “Chronograph” and “Alarm”
Dial B: The upper right small dial numbered 0-8. Underneath it says “Perpetual calendar”
Dial C: The bottom middle small dial. It has four labels that repeat around the circle: TME (time), CHR (stop watch), L-TM (local time) and ALM (alarm)
Button A: The top button
Button B: The bottom button
Stem In: The stem in its normal position, full pressed into the watch
Stem Mid: The stem in its middle position
Stem Out: The stem pulled out all the way into this third position.

Turning the stem to the right means giving it a half turn or so in a clockwise direction. This generally turns the affected hand counter-clockwise. Likewise, turning to the left means turning the stem counter-clockwise, generally causing the affected hand to turn clockwise.

Changing modes

With the stem in, give the stem a little twist in either direction. This will cause the hand on Dial C to move, changing the mode of the clock from TME (normal time), CHR (using the stop watch), L-TM (local time) and ALM (setting the alarm). Depending on the function, changing modes may automatically change the big hands on the main face.

Setting the Perpetual Calendar

Make sure Dial C is set to TME. (See “Changing modes” above.)

Set the stem to mid. Turning it to the left will set the date. If you give it a full turn instead, the date will change continuously until you give it another little spin. (It can be difficult to get the stem spun just right to start the continuous date changing.)

The second hand points to the month. E.g., if it is pointing to 1, your watch thinks it is January. If it points at 12, your watch thinks it is December. Press B once to advance the second hand by one month.

Now you have to tell it when the next leap year is coming. Dial B indicates that. If the hand on Dial B is pointing at 0, then your watch thinks it is currently a leap year. If it points at 1, it thinks it was a leap year last year. If it points at 2, it thinks it was a leap year two years ago. And if it points at 3, it thinks it was a leap year three years ago (and that therefore next year is a leap year). Adjust this by pushing Button A once for every year you want to advance Dial B.

Push the stem all the way in. Your watch is now set to keep track of dates for the next few decades.

Setting the time

Make sure Dial C is set to TME. (See “Changing modes” above.)

Pull the stem to its out position. The second hand should advance to 12.

Turn the stem to the right or left to cause the big hands to turn. (To the right moves the hands clockwise.) The hand in Dial A will turn. Give the stem a little turn in the other direction to stop the movement. (NOTE: Dial A tells you whether the big hands are showing AM or PM; if you are setting the watch to 7:00pm (or 19:00, if you prefer), for example, the hand on Dial A should be pointing at 19. To make the hands move faster, give the stem two or three fast turns. (NOTE: This doesn’t always work.)

Push the stem in all the way.

Setting the date

Make sure Dial C is set to TME. (See “Changing modes” above.)

Pull the stem to its mid position.

Turn the stem to the left to cause the date number to change. (Give the stem a little turn in the other direction to stop the movement.) The big hands will move as the date is set. (NOTE: This doesn’t always work.) To make the dial move faster, give the stem two or three fast turns.

Push the stem in all the way.

Using the stopwatch

The stopwatch, or “chronograph,” can measure up to an hour.

Set Dial C to CHR. (See “Changing modes” above.) The second hand will advance to 12. Button A starts and stops the stopwatch. Pressing Button A continuously resets the stopwatch to 0. Dial B records minutes.

Using local time

Set Dial C to L-TM. (See “Changing modes” above.)

Pull the stem all the way out. Turn the stem left or right once for each hour you want to advance or setback the time. When you’re done, press the stem back in. So long as you are in L-TM mode, the watch will show local time. If you set the mode to TIM, it will show the time where you started.

For example, if you are visiting some place three hours ahead of your home, you would go into L-TM mode, pull the stem all the way out, and turn it stem three times to the right.

NOTE: If in setting local time you go past midnight, the calendar date will change

The alarm

(I think these instructions are correct.) To set the alarm, set Dial C to ALM. (See “Changing modes” above.) The hands move to whatever time the alarm had been set to previously.

Pull the stem out fully. Set the time you want the alarm to go off by turning the stem. Check Dial A to make sure you have it set for AM or PM. (For example, to set the alarm to go off at 11:30 PM, Dial A should point to one tick before 24. Push the stem in. The alarm is now set.

To turn off the alarm when it is beeping, press Button A.

To un-set the alarm so it won’t go off at its appointed time, set Dial C to ALM and pull out the stem. Pressing Button A toggles the alarm on and off. You can tell whether it’s on by looking at the second hand. If it is pointing to 41 minutes after the hour, the alarm is on. If it is pointing to 37 minutes after the hour, it is off. Why Citizen decided to make the difference a matter of four minutes beats the heck out of me.

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