Since 1969, the Nissan Z (or Fairlady Z in Japan) has helped to define the Japanese sports car in a world traditionally dominated by European power players. Likewise, Citizen has a long heritage of producing sports watches that offer immense capability, but fly under the radar relative to its Swiss competitors. 2022 sees these two Japanese giants joining forces for the first time, celebrating the new generation of Nissan Z with a pair of unique limited edition Eco-Drive models with enough functionality and quality construction to stand toe-to-toe with competitors from both Switzerland and Japan. Both the Citizen Eco-Drive Nissan Z AT8185-89E and the Citizen Eco-Drive Nissan Z AT8185-97E offer a stylish and suitably race-ready tribute to a new generation of Japan’s most enduring sports car, packed with technology and unique visual touches in equal measure.
Both the Citizen Eco-Drive Nissan Z AT8185-89E and the AT8185-97E begin with cases in Citizen’s proprietary surface-hardened Super Titanium alloy, coated in black DLC. Measuring in at 42mm-wide, these cases follow the classic sports chronograph formula in images, with wide-set tapering lugs, a smoothly arcing mid-case silhouette, bold piston pushers, and a narrow polished bezel. Although the overall form might seem conventional at first glance, Citizen foreshadows these watches’ more avant-garde internals with a handful of visual cues. The most substantial of these is undoubtedly the bezel’s city scale for use in conjunction with the movement’s radio-controlled timekeeping feature, but the colored accent rings and matching signed cap for the 3 o’clock crown also succinctly tie this case in with the rest of the design. Both models complete the case with a Nissan logo engraving on the solid caseback, along with a sporting 100 meters of water resistance.
Dial design is where the Citizen Eco-Drive Nissan Z AT8185-89E and the AT8185-97E set themselves apart. The AT8185-89E is by far the more aggressive and intricate of the pair, with highlights throughout the design in Nissan’s blazing Ikazuchi Yellow. The main dial surface itself gives the design a sense of depth and complexity in initial images, with a grainy matte black texture shot through with circular pockets in a dynamic yellow gradient. This gives the base dial a mesh-like effect, accurately capturing the look of the seats in the new Nissan Z Proto Spec. Citizen keeps this model’s dial hardware in black for a cohesive, sporting modern look, but bevels the applied indices and tapering sword handset to give these dark elements some reflectivity in images. The brand cleanly integrates a wealth of complications into this dial design, with both the 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock subdials providing three functions each. At 12 o’clock, the asphalt-textured chronograph minutes subdial also pulls triple duty as a daylight savings time indicator and a sleek, graphic power reserve indicator. For the 6 o’clock 1/20-second chronograph subdial, Citizen also integrates a radio control indicator and a pointer day display. This bold, multi-purpose approach to the main subdials allows the subtle two-tone 24-hour subdial at 9 o’clock to fade into the background somewhat in images, helping to preserve a sense of dial symmetry. The AT8185-97E, on the other hand, takes a more reserved and versatile approach to the same design. The matte black tone of the dial with its pronounced graining aims to evoke the texture of worn asphalt, and the vibrant accents of the outer tachymeter ring and subdials are replaced by a more sedate shade of medium blue. To complement this less aggressive look, Citizen renders the handset and indices on this model in bare titanium, but this brighter metal tone clashes with the black DLC case somewhat in images.
Citizen powers both the Eco-Drive Nissan Z AT8185-89E and the AT8185-97E with its in-house Cal.H804 solar-powered quartz chronograph movement. The Cal.H804 is a fixture of Citizen’s higher-end quartz chronograph offerings, with high-tech inclusions such as radio-controlled timekeeping and the brand’s durable Eco-Drive solar charging system. Without the radio timekeeping signal enabled, the Cal.H804 still manages a solid +15/-15 seconds per month in accuracy, and offers a hefty 10 months of power reserve after a full solar charge. To complete the package, Citizen pairs both watches with a sharply angular H-link bracelet in matching brushed black DLC coated Super Titanium alloy.
With a vibrant sporting edge, high-tech movements, and a surprisingly intricate level of finishing, the limited edition Citizen Eco-Drive Nissan Z AT8185-89E and the Citizen Eco-Drive Nissan Z AT8185-97E offer a dynamic and suitably Japanese pairing for a new generation of Z-cars. Both models are limited to 1,700 units each, and will be available through authorized dealers in March 2022. Although this level of finishing and technical advancement puts these models in contention with both the Swiss and with Japanese rival Casio’s upscale G-Shock MT-G series, this level of execution comes at a hefty price. Both the AT8185-89E and the AT8185-97E carry MSRPs of $2,495 each as of press time. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.