March 14, 2023
by Mike Razak
Japanese powerhouse Citizen is back with a brand-new movement in a new three-watch collection. For the all-new Citizen Eco-Drive 365 collection, the brand has reached all the way to one of its earliest quartz models, a 1973 Citizen Quartz E.F.A. (Extra Fine Adjustment). This vintage model had designs that were symbolic of a future-oriented era when a quartz watch communicated its futuristic timekeeping supremacy not just with text on the dial but with striking case design and glamorous dials that characterized the decade. Given the current trend for vintage-inspired watches, plus the preference of the wider watch market [read: non-enthusiast] for the ease of quartz watches, these watches seem poised to sell well and fast.
The 1973 model wasn’t just another quartz model for Citizen, it was the brand’s first, and it was a knockout, with a movement that achieved a staggering -/+5 seconds per month—incredibly impressive then (and now). The lugless case was defined by its faceted clamshell design, and Citizen has brought that into modern times with an upsized a 42.5mm diameter and 11.1mm thickness. A recessed pull-out crown keeps the silhouette uninterrupted; a sapphire crystal with AR coating affords modern reliability. Two of the models are offered in full steel cases with matching bracelets and foldover clasps, one of which features black ion-plating throughout, and the other of which features just a black IP bezel. Both of those models feature radial brushing on the bezel and sunburst brushing on the case, with brushed bracelet links. The third model is a near copy of the original 1973, with a fully polished case and a brown leather strap (the leather is certified by LWG, meaning it’s more sustainable and with a lower environmental impact than non-certified leathers). Water resistance is reported at 100m, which should be more than enough for a watch of this style.
All three dials stand out for their glittery black finish, reminiscent of a clear, moonless night sky. This look is achieved with four different types of accents carefully scattered over the black surface of the dial; in my experience, while htese certainly can dazzle, renders always play that visual delight up a bit. Also of note is the raised rehaute, into which are recessed the dramatic applied hour markers; on the black model, these appear to be all one color, while on the steel model, there’s a two-tone aesthetic at work. The handset is a sharp, beveled brass that underscores the case’s angularity. On the third model, a limited edition of 1200 pieces, the dial, like the case, echoes the original. Lab-grown rubies cap the markers at the cardinal hours, while the rehaute gets a gold-tone treatment, which is complemented by a gold-tone handset. The lack of lume throughout is an interesting but welcome choice for a modern watch; these days, even watches that should not have or do not need lume have some application, often for the worse. All three models feature a rather tastefully executed date window at 3 o’clock; these are obviously renders, but the date seems to blend in well with the dial, thank goodness. Frankly, Citizen seems to have improved the dial from the original, which suffered from a desire to show off the newfangled appeal of quartz technology.
Citizen’s new movement, the E365, sits at the heart of the three new Citizen Eco-Drive 365 models. An evolution of its Eco-Drive technology, the E36 offers the same solar-charging, capacitor-driven movement, but now with the ability to run for an entire year on a single charge. The movement achieves an accuracy of -/+15 seconds per month. There’s no indication that the brand has made other improvements to the movement, which means that a full charge will take about 11 hours in direct sunlight and 40 hours on a cloudy day. As with all Eco-Drive movements, you can expect the module to last for about 10 years without the need for replacement. Given the one-year power reserve, the accuracy, and the effective 10-year service interval, it’s hard to turn one’s nose up at the new E365 movement.
Citizen isn’t known best for its vintage-inspired releases (Bulova—also under the Citizen Group umbrella—has that role secured), though it is starting to dip its feet in those waters. What Citizen has made itself known for is pushing the boundaries of quartz movement technology, though it usually releases it in a very modern case. That’s what makes the Citizen Eco-Drive 365 novel: The brand is improving on its flagship movement technology but introducing it in a vintage package. The new 365 collection seems to balance the enthusiast community’s desire for vintage design with the mass-market desire for watches they don’t have to think about, without being some ugly mashup. The Citizen Eco-Drive 365 is priced at $495 USD for the steel model (BN1014-55E), $550 USD for the black model (BN1015-52E), and $895 USD for the limited edition (BN1010-05E). For more information, please visit the brand’s website.