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Citizen Tsuno Chronograph Racer Hands-On

Citizen Tsuno Chronograph Racer Hands-On Hands-On

For Baselworld 2018, Tokyo-based Citizen unveiled a re-designed chronograph model that directly channels their 1972 Challenge Timer series of watches. The watches had a reasonable following due to what is known as the “Bullhead” structure – meaning that the crown and pushers are at 12 o’clock instead of the traditional 3 o’clock position. The Citizen Tsuno Chronograph Racer looks and feels like someone put a strap on a stopwatch. The watch will come in 4 different styles and feature Citizen’s proprietary Eco-Drive technology with a 1/5th second Flyback Chronograph.

Citizen Tsuno Chronograph Racer Hands-On Hands-On

All images by Ariel Adams

Citizen Tsuno Chronograph Racer Hands-On Hands-On

Citizen Tsuno Chronograph Racer models alongside a ’70s Citizen Challenge Timer

With this year’s apparent theme for Baselworld being “Re-Issues of 1970s models” (See Citizen’s direct rival – Seiko), Citizen takes a second look at a series of watches that a lot of enthusiasts have been collecting, trading, and selling at significant premiums. While surprising, and a little out of left field, the Tsuno Chronograph Racer may not be as practical as it is charming, but it is a fun little timepiece that won’t force a second mortgage.

Citizen Tsuno Chronograph Racer Hands-On Hands-On

Let’s start with the case. Measuring in at 45mm in stainless steel, the watch doesn’t feel like 45mm, though I largely attribute that to the fact that the crowns aren’t on the side of the watch, but at 12 o’clock and 5 o’clock (I’ll get to that in a bit). The inclusion of integrated wide lugs and straps won’t sit well for everyone, but they fit the watch nicely, regardless of whether you’re a fan of stitched colored leather or a stainless steel bracelet as your only options. I will say, the watch looks thick on the wrist. While we weren’t able to get measurements, the fact that the lugs and strap sit at the bottom of the case and not the middle means that the wearer will have to pay close attention to his arm swinging around door frames. The crown and pushers at the top are largely the reason for this. Instead of not needing to worry about that when the protrusions are on the side, Citizen had to keep the strap underneath them to make them practical and usable – regardless, the watch isn’t uncomfortable because of this, but the dome sapphire does sit far off the wrist.

Citizen Tsuno Chronograph Racer Hands-On Hands-On

Citizen Tsuno Chronograph Racer Hands-On Hands-On

The dial is going to be a point of contention for people who would consider the watch once explained. I don’t think it’s as outrageous as some people are making it out to be. Busy would be an understatement, but I would argue especially for Citizen, this is a bit more reserved than I would have expected from a new sport watch – especially one inspired by a model from the ’70s. I will also make a note, that the renders don’t do this watch justice. When I first saw the press release, I imagined these models were going to be a lot less legible on the wrist, and I was very wrong. At 12 o’clock you have your 12-hour counter, 3 o’clock is running seconds, and 6 o’clock is minutes. At 1:30 you have a date aperture which is arguably my least favorite aspect of the dial. At 4:30 is an on/off indicator for the watch’s alarm function controlled by the crown at 5 o’clock and displayed by the red-tipped hand.

Citizen Tsuno Chronograph Racer Hands-On Hands-On

While I think those aspects are busy, I find the tachometer scale with the chapter “cliff” the most eye-sore inducing element. I feel it was a shape included to make the watch a bit larger than it needed to be. It should have been flat to keep a bit more uniformity. But what’s that sub-register at 9 o’clock? Well that’s the power reserve indicator. In lieu of a simple crescent, Citizen opted for an oversized register to display the power reserve. I certainly don’t think it looks bad and it actually adds a fair amount of balance to the dial, even if there is a lot to look at.


Citizen Tsuno Chronograph Racer Hands-On Hands-On

As mentioned earlier, the watch utilizes Citizen’s Eco-Drive technology. Largely a quartz watch powered by light, Citizen heavy-handedly promotes the technology in their watches because it never needs a battery if being worn consistently. The benefit of it is that the watch is able to bolster all sorts of functionality without mechanical components – keeping the pricing down immensely. The reason I mention this is because I’ve seen a lot of blow-back because it’s not a mechanical chronograph. But I would like to remind everyone that this is Citizen, and Eco-Drive technology paired with an affordable nature is their claim-to-fame.

Citizen Tsuno Chronograph Racer Hands-On Hands-On

Over the course of Baselworld 2018, we saw Citizen branching out and releasing models that are quintessentially Citizen instead of the slump of watches that “kinda look like” another model – and that gets me excited to see what else Citizen has up its sleeve. If I had to describe the Tsuno Chronograph Racer, it would be charming. It’s different enough that it’s noticeable, there are plenty of functions that make it a formidable daily wearer, and it manages to not jump head-first into a river of gimmicks. This watch won’t be for everybody, but it certainly features a lot to like if you want something everyone doesn’t already have. The Citizen Tsuno Chronograph Racer will be limited to 1,973 pieces each, and carry a price range of $795–$895 depending on the model, though I imagine it’s with and without a bracelet.



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  • IanE

    I’d lose the date, but, taking me by surprise, I could see that as fun summer beach-wear. Might be tempted if the street price is a bit lower!

    • Bozzor

      This is a good “office beater” and day to day wear with a bit of classic 70s flare, along with a bullet proof movement. Price is a tad high, but as long as street can be held to the circa $600 dollar mark, should be good. But as a limited edition, they may be able to maintain MSRP…

    • Louis Winthorpe III

      If you head down to Canal St you’ll see me selling reasonable facsimiles thereof. Thanks to Mortimer, Randolph and Billy Ray!

      • Playboy Johnny

        Check with Clarence Beeks, he might have a line on these.

        • Tempvs Mortvvs

          Clarence Beeks has nothing to do with watches anymore, or anything similar for that matter. He remains under the tender care of his now-old gorilla buddy.

          • Louis Winthorpe III

            Ya in Svweeeden

  • ProJ

    Seemingly nice build quality for the price (the bracelet in particular)

  • Simonh

    Supercool, love the bullhead throwback, but in a modern way.

  • David Williams

    For real-life sports coaches and timekeepers – and maybe also physical therapists – at races, regattas, ball games, competitions and training sessions of all kinds, this “stopwatch on a strap” would be practically useful – as well as being a powerful lifestyle statement when off duty. Enjoyable also for anyone whose involvement with sport is merely vicarious.

    And yes, the Eco Drive movement is entirely acceptable. Some might say that a watch regulated to very high accuracy by the vibration of a quartz crystal, and powered by light, is an extremely clever thing and more than the equivalent in ingenuity and manufacturing skill (though not aesthetically) of a mechanical movement.

  • Louis Winthorpe III

    Why must I be such a fussy young man
    I gots to have my Rolex, JLC, my PAM
    O don’t you know artisans are starving in Japan
    I’ll buy it. Just buy it.

  • Since, ostensibly, the primary reason for wearing a ‘stop watch on a strap’ would be to use the chronograph function, I would think legibility of that function should take precedence over all else. As it is, though, the chrono registers and hands seem so tiny and jammed in there. The date was an afterthought; it would have been interesting to see it integrated with the PR register, rather than awkwardly squished into a corner.

    If you’ve ever owned an Eco-Drive, then you can appreciate the inclusion of the Power Reserve indicator, but here its execution takes up too much real estate, ironically defeating the intent of dial symmetry.

  • Playboy Johnny

    Only a few problems: Bullhead style, case, cluttered dial & strange lugs. Other than that, really nice.

    • IanE

      True – just the sort of wrong detailing that appeals to kooks like me!

  • SuperStrapper

    The old CTZ 8110 chronograph have a cult following and can be hard to come by in original/working condition, but I dont see these carrying that legacy on.

  • Andre Braz

    Interesting revisited design. But personally I hate this kind of lugs, it’s a problem if you want to replace the straps.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    This just isn’t me.

  • Tea Hound

    The elephant man of watches.

  • BJ314

    Ugly for no good reason.

  • Lindsay

    That weird PR indicator looks like it was meant to have an LCD behind it

  • IG

    Should have a 5th subdial at the centre.

  • Ulysses31

    I quite like bullheads, and this is a decent example of one. The retro styling is nice but the dial is overly busy.

  • Benjamin Powell They seem to be just re-cased versions of their 2004 watch – CTZ66-0472 or CTZ66-0471. I presume the movement is the same as it certainly has a similar dial. Having said that I actually like them.

  • Rich Wentz

    I like it. I just wish it had conventional lugs.

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