How Do Atomic Watches Work? How Accurate Are They?

An atomic watch is a watch with a digital display that calibrates its time by receiving a radio signal from one of six atomic clocks around the world, known as an atomic digital watch.

Therefore, they are exceptionally accurate.

So how do atomic watches work?

Take some minutes to read our article and find out the answer for yourself along with other interesting information.

How Do Atomic Watches Work?

An atomic watch never has to be set or changed because it gets a low-frequency radio signal every night that maintains it precisely synced, radio-controlled watches work like the US atomic clock in Colorado. 

Many atomic watches enable the wearer to verify the time of their most recent synchronization and options to manually instruct the watch to hunt for the synchronizing radio signal.

These watches are powered by a battery or by the sun.

Because they often lack a stem for manually changing the time, they will not show the correct time after a battery replacement until it receives its daily update signal. 

If you manually search for the signal on one of these watches, it may update within a few minutes; but, if the watch cannot detect the signal, it may take many days to resume showing the correct time.

So what stands behind their accuracy?

The answer is how atomic clocks operate. Keep reading for more understanding!

Basic Working Principles Watch

The atomic clock works functions similarly to an ordinary clock, except that its time-base, rather than being an oscillating mass as in a pendulum clock, is based on the characteristics of atoms while transitioning between various energy levels.

When an external energy source stimulates an atom, it enters a higher energy state.

Then it moves from this condition to a lower energy level.

During this transition, the atom releases energy at a highly specific frequency that is unique to the type of atom.

This serves as a kind of signature for the sort of material utilized.

Thus, all that is required to make a decent clock is a method of detecting this frequency and feeding it into a counter.

How Accurate Are Atomic Watches?

Undoubtedly, atomic watches are undeniably remarkable devices of technology, but not without flaws.

They must receive the signal from the atomic clock to work correctly, and two circumstances might cause it to lose that connection.

The first factor is distance how does.

The watch will not synchronize with the atomic clock if it travels outside of its broadcast range.

Unfortunately, because they broadcast at a different frequency, most watches manufactured in the United States cannot synchronize with other atomic clocks.

This will very certainly change in the future, but the bulk of these watches is locally unique for the time being.

A signal disturbance is another issue that can compromise these watches.

Radio signals can pass through most surfaces and obstacles, which is why they are so helpful, but there are several components that can distort or completely block a signal.

Certain metals, particularly those used in safes and reinforced structures, interfere with radio transmissions.

Other radio signals or electronic equipment might also interfere, which is why many watches are set to calibrate at night when signal interference is lower.

What Is An Atomic Clock Made Of?

 The Atomic watch, like other watches, is created from a range of materials, ranging from steel and titanium to molded plastic.

The watch’s body may be made of metal or plastic, with a fabric or leather strap, or the complete watch may be made of metal or plastic. 

A polished metal housing and wristband may be the most appropriate style if you intend to use the piece as a formal watch or as a piece of casual wear.

On the other hand, plastic housing with a fabric wristband may be ideal for a watch you want to wear during physical activity since the plastic will not scratch or blemish like metal, and the cloth bracelet can provide more flexibility during training sessions.

Are Atomic Watches More Precise Than Traditional Watches?

To put it simply, if you wear any type of watch besides an atomic watch, you don’t have the most precise or accurate time.

Your significant other may have presented you with a limited-edition watch of exquisite craftsmanship, but sad to say, it’s probably still faulty to at least a few milliseconds.

It is also imperative to note that all timepieces suffer from clock drift, a term that essentially refers to the desynchronization of a watch from its baseline clock.

Moreover, if your watch was initially synched by the atomic clock, it would run delayed at some point.

Atomic Watches: Worth It Or Not?

It is an ideal option for people who are serious about finding the right watches and who value their time.

These aren’t only for making drifts simpler; they also contain unique functions that increase the watch’s worth.

If you live within range of one of the world’s six atomic clock radio broadcasts and enjoy highly accurate timekeeping, then these watches are absolutely worth it.

Additionally, the price of a decent watch is usually modest and should not be a deterrent to having one.

What Do You Need To Consider Before Buying An Atomic Watch?

Before purchasing an atomic watch, there are a few things you should be aware of.

For starters, the major problem is that if you are not within range of the atomic clock’s radio signal, your watch will not be able to adjust its time. 

Suppose you live in a country that is not covered by radio signals from the United States, United Kingdom, Europe, China, or Japan.

In that case, there isn’t much use in getting one of these watches unless you plan to visit one of those areas frequently. 

Those who reside in a nation having that radiofrequency should be aware of this limitation if they want to go abroad.

Another thing is that the atomic clock radio transmission, like any other radio signal, can be obstructed by mountains, buildings, and so forth.

So if something is obstructing the signal at the moment your watch is attempting to re-calibrate the time, the calibration will not take place that day.

Finally, let’s take the case of the radio signal in the United States as an.

The signal received by all atomic watches in the United States originates in Fort Collins, Colorado.

You’re getting the same signal whether you’re in New York or California.

The obvious problem here is that the radio transmission does not take into account different time zones.

Therefore, you still have to make changes using your hands.

Popular Atomic Watch Brands

When it comes to atomic watches, there are three well-known brands: Casio, Seiko, and Citizen.


Casio offers atomic timepieces in four primary lines: G-Shock, Pro Trek, Edifice, and Wave Ceptor. 

  • G-Shock series is tough and suited for strenuous tasks, particularly in sports and the military.
  • When it comes to outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and climbing, the Pro Trek range is quite comparable to the G-Shock series.
  • The Wave Ceptor watches are similarly designed for outdoor enthusiasts, although they lack the features seen in the preceding two models. That implies the prices are likewise significantly lower.
  • The Edifice collection is the most fashion-forward. However, the exaggerated fashion phrase does not imply that the wristwear is devoid of technologies and functions.


Seiko was the first to launch a three-band radio wave solar watch capable of receiving time synchronizations from Japan, Germany, and the United States in 2005.

Today, they’ve focused on a GPS-controlled time correction used by the Astron collection.


When the first Citizen models were on the market in 1993, the brand was a pioneer of multi-band radio-controlled watches.

This brand of watches is really precise, and the prices are fairly reasonable, making the company one of the top budget watch brands in the world.

How Much Are Atomic Watches?

As you can see, the selection of atomic clocks is wide, as is the price range.

Because basic radio wave technology is relatively inexpensive, atomic time is accessible to people of all income levels.

There are inexpensive and simple alternatives priced between $50 and $100, as well as more costly devices with added features costing thousands of dollars.

However, the greatest value-for-money multiband wristwatches remain in the $200-$500 range, where, in addition to accuracy, you’ll also receive proven quality from well-known watch manufacturers.


To sum up, atomic watches are ideal for people who value exact time due to their lifestyle, accept and implement the most recent advancements in any sector, or want to possess a well-known watch brand.

What is guaranteed is the quality and dependability of the atomic clocks offered by these brands.

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Last Updated on April 9, 2022 by The o.d.m team