September 11, 2012
by Ariel Adams
Today’s Citizen watches are products that most people associate with light. This is thanks to the Japanese brand’s extremely successful Eco-Drive family of movements. Most Citizen watches you are likely to own these days contain one of these useful movements. The hallmark characteristic of an Eco-Drive movement is that they are solar powered. In reality, most any light will do. Eco-Drives are quartz movements that run on batteries, but batteries the owner does not need to replace. Inside each Eco-Drive movement is a rechargeable battery that Citizen says can be good for up to 30 years or longer in many instances. Light enters through the watch dial to recharge the low energy consumption movements.
Contained in an array of basic watches, the Eco-Drive technology is also used for more sophisticated or experimental Citizen watches. One such Citizen concept watch for 2012 doesn’t just rely on light for power, but also emits it.
The visual splendor of the 2012 Citizen Eco-Drive Nova is pretty much unrivaled by any other timepiece this year. Maybe ever. Encountering it at this year’s Baselworld watch and jewelry show, we were entranced by the lively graphical display that seemed to hauntingly contain some light-based life form. The dial of the Eco-Drive Nova watch doesn’t just light up, but practically comes alive – living with light in an animated display.
Citizen discussed little in terms of how the Eco-Drive Nova watch actually works. Set on display with accompanying videos, they instead preferred to show off the concept and let us guess for ourselves. The watch itself comes in black or white with a large dial, integrated strap, and large domed sapphire crystal over the face. An impressively sized crown is included to remind you that it is indeed a timepiece.
The dial itself is a curious creation. It is made up of almost organic looking hexagons, each with smaller sections inside. These sections look almost like foam bubbles, and the light does reflect off nearby “cells.” The bluish-white light seems to come from behind the dial and moves around the entire face elegantly. Programmed routines in the watch have the lights moves around whimsically, beautifully, artistically, and likely very somewhat utilitarian.
When it comes to functionality, the watch does tell the time of course. The lights come up to display the time using two “painted” analog hands. Given the nature of the creation, the Eco-Drive Nova watch doesn’t even center them in the middle of the dial. The playful concept creation is a fun toy first, and a watch second. Citizen likely uses a special display combined with a type of fiber optic light source to create the impressive effect.
Will it be commercially produced? If anything about Citizen’s recent history is a clue then likely yes. It would not be too surprising if Citizen released the Eco-Drive Nova as a limited edition concept watch available only in a few markets. Even if you can’t buy one, it is worth checking out just what the Eco-Drive Nova watch looks like in action – and how far Citizen can take their Eco-Drive technology.