While Citizen is most frequently associated with its vast range of reasonably priced watches that deliver strong value for the money, the Japanese company is ultimately a horology-focused manufacturing powerhouse, and it also produces premium models that are priced at several thousand dollars. Sitting at the very top of Citizen’s offerings are its Eco-Drive One and rather confusingly named “The Citizen” collections, which offer premium movements and typically aren’t made available to the American market. As its latest new release of 2023, Citizen has released a new limited-edition model within “The Citizen” lineup that will be coming to the United States, and the new watch showcases a handcrafted black and gold washi paper dial with a highly advanced Eco-Drive movement that offers a perpetual calendar and an accuracy rating of just -/+5 seconds per year.
Measuring 38.3mm in diameter by 12.2mm thick, the case of The Citizen AQ4103-16E is crafted from Super Titanium that has been given a bright yellow gold Duratect coating. The dial side of the watch receives a double-domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment, while the solid screw-down caseback is engraved with The Citizen collection’s signature eagle insignia and screws down to help support the model’s 100 meters of water resistance. The same eagle appears on the tip of the signed crown at the 3 o’clock location, and sitting right next to it on the side of the case is a small recessed pusher that is used during the setting process. Despite being gold in color, the case of The Citizen AQ4103-16E offers the total opposite properties of an actual gold case, and while gold is naturally a soft and heavy material, the gold Super Titanium case of The Citizen AQ4103-16E will be incredibly light with surfaces that will be exponentially more difficult to scratch.
The real highlight of The Citizen AQ4103-16E is its black washi paper dial, which is handcrafted by master papermakers and sprinkled with gold leaf using a traditional Japanese decorative technique called Sunago-maki, in which artisans put flakes of gold leaf into a bamboo tube and use it to individually place them onto the surface of the paper to create the desired effect. The semi-transparent nature of washi paper makes it ideal to use in the dial construction of an Eco-Drive watch, as it allows light to pass through its surface, and care must be taken during the Sunago-maki process to ensure that the dial retains the correct amount of light transmittance. Due to the handmade nature of the material and the asymmetric pattern of the gold flakes against the black washi paper surface, no two dials will be entirely identical, which gives each one of the 350 examples of this limited edition watch its own slightly unique appearance.
Powering The Citizen AQ4103-16E is the brand’s Eco-Drive Caliber A060 high-accuracy solar quartz movement, which represents a significant step above what you will find inside Citizen’s standard Eco-Drive models. Just like other Citizen Eco-Drive movements, the Cal. A060 is capable of powering itself with either natural or artificial light, although it also offers an energy-saving function, which allows it to run for up to a year and a half in total darkness. In addition to boasting an incredible accuracy rating of just -/+5 seconds per year, the Citizen Cal. A060 also features a number of other highly practical features such as a perpetual calendar, low-power warning, and independently adjustable hour hand, along with automatic hand position adjustment to ensure that they remain perfectly aligned.
Further leaning into its black and gold color profile, the lugs of The Citizen AQ4103-16E are fitted with a two-piece black crocodile leather strap with gold contrast stitching running down either side. The two opposite ends of the strap connect with a matching deployant style clasp that operates with a double push-button release and is signed with Citizen’s logo. The material for the strap is produced by a tanner that is certified by the Leather Working Group, which is an international organization of brands and suppliers within the leather industry that assesses the environmental performance and safety of leather manufacturing. Citizen has been a member of the Leather Working Group since April 2023, and given how even the leather straps on its most budget-friendly models are typically quite well-made, the strap attached to The Citizen AQ4103-16E will likely be a very nice option.
Super Titanium cases and Eco-Drive movements are used throughout Citizen’s modern catalog and they can even be found among the brand’s entry-level offerings. However, The Citizen AQ4103-16E is a significantly more elevated timepiece that takes the underlying concept of Citizen’s Eco-Drive range and expresses it in a highly refined and luxurious package. As premium offerings, watches from The Citizen series cost significantly more than the brand’s standard core-collection models, and the Citizen AQ4103-16E is accompanied by an official retail price of $3,800 USD, with production limited to 350 examples worldwide. That said, part of why the slightly confusing “The Citizen” name even exists is because these watches are significantly more elevated than Citizen’s regular models, and these highly refined timepieces really exist more as their own premium sub-collection with the brand’s greater catalog. For more information on The Citizen Eco-Drive Black Washi Paper Dial Limited Edition AQ4103-16E, please visit the brand’s website.