In all of human history, few ideas have been as influential as those detailed by Charles Darwin in his seminal 1859 treatise, On the Origin of Species. The biologist’s guiding hypothesis — that the natural world is constantly evolving through a process of natural selection — has helped humankind better understand our planet, and validated nature as the ultimate inventor. Humans are the only species with a similar dedication to innovation; developing new technologies and improving old ones in the eternal pursuit of accuracy, efficiency, and elegance. And, in the world of watches, few creations reflect this obsession to a greater degree (in either name or nature) than the Accutron Spaceview Evolution.
Even at first glance, it’s clear that Accutron’s latest is unlike any other watch. But that’s no accident. From its case — a substantial 43.5 mm and 15.9 mm thick — to the skeletonized dial exhibiting the Evolution’s electrostatic rotors, every element of the watch’s design has been created to showcase its unique inner workings. “Leveraging our rich history in watchmaking, the new Accutron Evolution merges a beautiful traditional dial design with the brand’s groundbreaking Electrostatic technology,” says Eric Senftleben, managing director of Citizen Watch Canada. “The result is an aesthetically and technologically impressive timepiece.”
The model may be new for 2023, but the ideas that formed the Spaceview Evolution (and its bold, futuristic look) stretch back more than six decades, to the dawn of the electronic watch movement, and a time when Accutron created one of the most advanced watches in history. Because, while we tend to focus on 1969 — the launch of the first quartz watch, and the ensuing two decades of development — when discussing the evolution of modern watchmaking, Accutron heralded the dawn of its own new era with the 1960 launch of the Spaceview.
It was a model that debuted to instant acclaim. Hailed as the most accurate timekeeping mechanism ever created and the most significant advancement in personal timekeeping for more than 300 years, the Spaceview’s advanced movement was matched only by its distinctive, straight-out-of-sci-fi look. The first electric battery–powered watches had hit the market in the late 1950s, but were relatively delicate and not significantly more accurate than their mechanical counterparts. The Accutron Spaceview, by contrast, utilized a tuning fork that vibrated 360 times per second, driven by an electromagnetic coil system and battery. With fewer moving parts, it was not only more reliable than any watch to come before it, but also far more accurate. Over the next decade, the Spaceview was proudly worn by celebrities including Paul Newman and Joe DiMaggio, and gifted to visiting dignitaries by U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. An Accutron timer was even placed on the moon during one of 46 NASA missions the watchmaker worked on.
Today, quartz technology has rendered those original tuning fork movements obsolete. But the quest for ever-greater precision continues and, in this endeavour, the new Accutron Spaceview Evolution represents the latest leap forward. Like its forebears, the Evolution uses pioneering technology to achieve exceptional gains in accuracy. The watch is powered by the world’s first electrostatic movement, which draws energy from a pair of turbines that rotate at high speeds driven by the motion of the wearer. Two electrodes affixed to the movement gather this energy, which is stored in an accumulator and fed to two motors, one powering the fluid second hand and another powering the hour and minute hands. The result is an accuracy of +/- 5 seconds a month — an improvement over conventional quartz watches and even the most advanced mechanical models.
In the tradition of previous Spaceview models, the Evolution’s appearance is on par with its performance. Using the same case as the Spaceview 2020, the Evolution updates its design by rotating the movement 30 degrees and placing the winding crown at two o’clock — an unusual configuration that creates a more symmetrical dial layout and improves ergonomics. The new model is available in two versions: one pairs a silver-toned dial with metallic hands, black screws, and a matching black alligator leather strap; another with blued screws that offer an additional pop of colour alongside a blue alligator leather strap. Bridges engraved with a delicate knurling pattern also add a sophisticated feel, while the dauphine hands and minimalist hour markers up legibility thanks to a liberal layer of Super-LumiNova.
All of these elements and improvements add up to a watch that looks unlike any other, but also serves to highlight Accutron’s ongoing pursuit of ever-greater accuracy. Yet, despite these advances, the Spaceview Evolution is unlikely to be the final form of this historic watch. Because, like every great Darwinian design — whether shaped by natural selection or human ingenuity — the Accutron Spaceview’s evolution will never stand still.