Among the more enthusiast-driven releases from Citizen for 2023 is the NJ015 Automatic series, which is the brand’s lineup of budget-friendly integrated bracelet watches. Nicknamed the “Tsuyosa” (meaning “strength” in Japanese), the Citizen NJ015 Automatic technically made its debut appearance last year, although it has only just recently become available within the United States this spring. Given that integrated bracelet watches have been at peak popularity for several years now, the decision to bring this model to the U.S. market makes a lot of sense from a business perspective, and the Citizen NJ015 Automatic “Tsuyosa” offers many of the features that collectors and enthusiasts are looking for these days at a price point that comes in below nearly all of its direct competitors.
At a quick glance, the Citizen NJ015 Automatic “Tsuyosa” is somewhat of an amalgam of trendy features, and it is a stainless steel integrated bracelet sports watch with a slightly retro case design that is powered by an automatic movement and available with a variety of different dial colors. Compared to many other integrated bracelet watches, the Citizen “Tsuyosa” has a bit of a softer and more traditional overall appearance, and while there is certainly some vintage inspiration in the general lines of its design, it is far less angular and aggressive looking compared to something like an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak or even a Tissot PRX.
In terms of its overall aesthetics, the Citizen NJ015 Automatic “Tsuyosa” incorporates a number of design elements that can also be found throughout Rolex’s catalog, and the “Tsuyosa” almost looks like an Oyster Perpetual that was adopted and raised by a vintage Oysterquartz and a Day-Date. That said, the 4 o’clock crown adds a distinctly Japanese element to the overall design of the Citizen NJ015, and the end result is a watch that ultimately has its own personality, despite also sharing a number of characteristics with various models from other manufacturers.
The stainless steel case of the Citizen NJ015 Automatic “Tsuyosa” measures 40mm in diameter by 11.7mm-thick, and while the lug-to-lug distance of the case itself measures 45mm, you are really looking at closer to 49.5mm once you factor in the way that the first center links of the bracelet stick out past the edges of the case. The top side of the Citizen “Tsuyosa” is fitted with a flat anti-reflective sapphire crystal that has a magnification bubble above the date window at 3 o’clock, and surrounding the crystal is a simple smooth fixed bezel that has a high-polish finish.
The reverse side of the Citizen “Tsuyosa” receives a screw-down display caseback that offers a view of the self-winding movement that powers the watch, while access to the movement is granted by a small unsigned push/pull style crown that sits partially recessed into the side of the case at the 4 o’clock position. Water resistance for the Citizen NJ015 Automatic “Tsuyosa” comes in at 50 meters, which the manufacturer states is enough for “still water swimming,” although I would personally prefer for the watch to have a bit higher of a depth rating, even if it is just to provide additional peace of mind while splashing around at the beach or lounging by the pool.
Connected to the semi-integrated lugs of the Citizen NJ015 Automatic “Tsuyosa” is a stainless steel bracelet, which features a rounded three-link design with brushed sides and high-polished centers that more-or-less echoes the style of the President bracelet from Rolex’s Day-Date collection. The bracelet itself tapers from 22mm wide where it meets the case down to 18mm where it connects to the clasp, although the bracelet actually attaches to the case with the 9mm wide center links that slot into the cut-outs that form the lugs. The links of the bracelet are completely solid, although the removable ones are secured by friction-fit pins rather than single-sided screws, and the clasp is a simple stamped assembly with a double push-button release that is signed with Citizen’s logo.
The bracelet and clasp are very much in line with what can be found on most of Citizen’s entry-level models, and while the clasp is ultimately more than serviceable, it doesn’t quite offer a premium feel due to its thin construction and stamped (rather than machined) components. Since third-party strap alternatives are inherently rather limited for integrated bracelet watches, I’m always a bit more critical of what manufacturers choose to fit to them, and while the bracelet for the Citizen NJ015 Automatic “Tsuyosa” is completely acceptable for a watch at this price point, I do wish that the clasp had a slightly more premium feel to its overall design and construction.
Although Citizen currently offers five different dial colors for the NJ015 “Tsuyosa” (at least when it comes to the U.S. market), all of them feature the same core style with a sunburst finished surface, luminous baton hour markers, and a date window at the 3 o’clock location. Dial colors for the Citizen “Tsuyosa” include black (ref. NJ0150-56E), blue (ref. NJ0150-56L), yellow (ref. NJ0150-56Z), green (ref. NJ0150-56X), and turquoise (ref. NJ0151-53M), with the blue version being a traditional dark blue hue, while the turquoise variant is Citizen’s take on the ultra-popular ice blue color that has recently been featured on a number of different watch dials throughout the industry.
The hands fitted to the Citizen NJ015 Automatic “Tsuyosa” appear as simple polished batons with green-emission luminous inlays to match the applied hour markers, and both the 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock indexes receive a double set of batons to help offer a better orientation of the time in low-light settings. While the dials aren’t necessarily the most original from a design standpoint, all the different colorways are fundamentally rather aesthetically pleasing, and the straightforward style and layout serves as the perfect neutral backdrop for the five different colors that range from vibrant and trendy to classic and conservative.
Powering the Citizen NJ015 Automatic “Tsuyosa” series in the brand’s Caliber 8210 automatic movement, and since Citizen owns the movement manufacturer Miyota, the Citizen Cal. 8210 is essentially the brand’s own version of the venerable Miyota 8215. Running at a frequency of 21,600vph (3 Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 40 hours, the underlying design of the Citizen Caliber 8210 is very much a known-quantity, although it does offer a unique appearance with a combination of both standard and gilt-finished components, along with being fitted with a Citizen-signed oscillating weight.
Opting for one of the more premium movements from Miyota’s 9xxx series would have both offered better performance specs and permitted a slightly thinner overall case design, although it would have also inevitably added to the price of the Citizen NJ015 Automatic “Tsuyosa” series, and a similar statement applies to my minor nitpicks with its functional but rather unremarkable clasp. At the end of the day, you can always get your hands on superior components and features by spending more money, but arguably the single most appealing thing about the Citizen NJ015 Automatic “Tsuyosa” series is how much it offers for its budget-friendly price point.
Despite having an integrated bracelet, the “Tsuyosa” is actually one of Citizen’s least expensive mechanical models, and the Citizen NJ015 Automatic series is accompanied by an official retail price of $450 USD, which places it firmly within the affordable side of the watch enthusiast landscape. Personally, I find that the Tissot PRX delivers a slightly more premium experience on the wrist; however, it’s important to remember that the Citizen NJ015 “Tsuyosa” costs less than two-thirds the price of the automatic version of the PRX, making it less expensive than just about any of its competitors that are powered by self-winding movements. Additionally, while the Citizen “Tsuyosa” is clearly intended to appeal to enthusiasts, its approachable design and budget-friendly price point also make it a model that has the potential to enjoy success among a much more mainstream audience, and I could easily see the NJ015 “Tsuyosa” being a great way for someone to take their first step into the world of mechanical wristwatches. For more information on the Citizen NJ015 Automatic “Tsuyosa” watch, please visit the brand’s website.