In 2023, Citizen debuted a brand new version of its longstanding solar-powered Eco-Drive quartz movement with the Citizen Eco-Drive caliber E365. This represented an important technology upgrade that increased the total “full-charge” battery life of an Eco-Drive-based movement to 365 days (or one year). To debut the caliber E365 system, Citizen launched the Eco-Drive 365 watch collection including this limited-edition reference BN1010-05E version, which is inspired by a vintage Citizen timepiece from the 1970s. Citizen really likes to debut fresh technology in interesting “concept” watches that take the brand’s design language in a new direction. While the E365 module will most likely find its way into future products, the debut collection of Citizen Eco-Drive 365 timepieces is an interesting blend of artistic and classic Japanese wristwatch design.
At the time of writing, Citizen has released three versions of the Eco-Drive 365 in this model generation, including this limited edition model, and two non-limited versions on bracelets that don’t have the synthetic ruby hour markers, and which cost a fair bit less. As is mentioned in one of the above-linked articles, this limited edition is inspired by a vintage early quartz watch from 1973, which had a similar color palette that also used synthetic rubies for four of the hour markers. At the time, the use of rubies was as decorative as it was symbolic. Since rubies are much more friction-resistant than metals, synthetic rubies are an important part of many mechanical watch movements, used as palettes or teeth between certain moving parts. When vintage watches indicated the number of jewels in a movement, they were often referencing the number of rubies. This practice became deprecated when synthetic stone creation made rubies very inexpensive and thus nothing to brag about. Using specially cut rubies on the dial was a playful choice for early quartz watches because their movements did not require the same parts as traditional mechanical watches. Thus, if a consumer asks how many jewels a watch has, Citizen could point to the dial and say “at least four.”
This limited-edition Citizen Eco-Drive 365 watch has a dial that is all about beauty and decor, even though it is designed for light to enter through and charge the photovoltaic cell behind it that charges the battery. The year of battery life is nice because it means that you can more or less be out of the sunlight for a long time and still reach for the watch. This is especially useful for sports watches that you might need immediately and don’t have time to charge. The reference BN1010-05E’s central dial is a glistening black material, inspired by a starry sky. Dauphine-style hands point to a series of applied hour markers, including a gold track and printed inner minute marker ring. It looks like a really cool clock you might find in Tokyo bank, back before everyone was obsessed with bioorganic forms in architecture. The dial has a small date window, as well.
The black, gold, and ruby colors of the dial actually don’t look bad with the polished steel case. However, I find the use of a simple brown leather strap a bit odd. The non-limited-edition versions of this watch have a matching steel bracelet. I’m really not sure what the ideal strap for this Eco-Drive 365 watch is, but I think owners of this watch would be wise to experiment a bit. The case is very neat-looking, though I believe most watch enthusiasts might find it too uncommon for conservative tastes. The Eco-Drive 365 case is 42.5mm wide, with a unique shape that combines a tonneau case with geometric points at the top and bottom. The case entirely overlaps the lug structures, which are only visible on the underside of the watch. The crown is also designed to be slightly noticed but is mostly integrated into the case and does not require extra space to stick out.
Citizen engineered the Eco-Drive 365 case to be water-resistant to 100 meters. It has an AR-coated sapphire crystal over the dial and is 11.5mm thick. The case hides the thickness really well, but overall I think that to get a year’s of battery life they needed to make the battery larger. I also would have liked for there to be a power reserve indicator or function. Even though the Eco-Drive 365 is impressive, Citizen doesn’t really put it into perspective by comparing it to the battery life of other Eco-Drive models. I think that more perspective is important because most consumers expect quartz movement batteries to last between two and three years on average. Those aren’t solar-powered of course, but the nuances and differences are mostly absent in the minds of consumers unless Citizen offers more education about them. That said, unlike some of the competition in Switzerland, Citizen does do a good job of informing the community that it has a new movement to discover and investigate.
The release of the E365 movement demonstrates that Citizen has not stopped working on ways to make its now three-decade-old Eco-Drive technology fresh and updated. In an era where sustainability and product longevity are increasingly important to consumers, the story of a light-powered watch that does not require battery changes is more relevant than ever. The price premium for this limited-edition version of the Eco-Drive 365 seems to be mostly about the dial decoration (though it also has a much more finely polished case), and it costs $350-$400 more than the non-limited versions. Price for the Citizen Eco-Drive 365 BN1010-05E is 895 USD. Learn more at the Citizen watches website.