At this time “Tsuyosa” (meaning “strength” in Japanese) is Citizen’s collection of affordable, albeit refined, mechanical daily-wear dress watches. The Citizen Tsuyosa watch family currently consists of two main model families, including the central second Citizen Tsuyosa Automatic watches, as well as the very similar Citizen Tsuyosa Small Second watch that I review here today. These watches all share the same 40mm-wide case and bracelet/strap options but are different in terms of the dials and movement.

Priced a bit higher than the standard central second automatic versions, the Citizen Tsuyosa Small Second watches feature a textured dial with a guilloche-style design, as well as an automatic movement with a subsidiary seconds dial placed above the 6 o’clock hour indicator. These changes give the Tsuyosa Small Second a slightly more decorative and retro feel, adding a bit more formality and grace to an otherwise very versatile dressier watch collection (made modern and fun with the availability of some truly spirited dial color options). This particular version with the khaki green is reference NK5010-51X, though the watch is also available in blue (NK5010-51L) and gray (NK5010-01H; sold on a leather strap).

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For the money, there is a lot of watch here to enjoy. Citizen has an assortment of much more expensive mechanical watches, but what makes the Tsuyosa special is the focus on affordability for a customer who isn’t going to be able to spend over $1,000 on a wristwatch. Accordingly. most Citizen Tsuyosa watches have a “street price” of under $400 USD, making them very attractive to people wanting a classic mechanical watch of this style who don’t want to pay serious luxury dollars.

The Tsuyosa case is 40mm wide in polished steel and water-resistant to 50 meters. The case is about 12mm thick, and the dial has a flat sapphire crystal over it. The case isn’t too long, 45mm long when measured lug-to-lug. That said, with the case thickness and broad lugs, this watch wears large despite the proportions. The case is designed for the bracelet or strap to have a quick-release feature. This is useful, but you will have to purchase special straps to fit this and other compatible Tsuyosa cases. Speaking of the steel bracelet: It is nice, but my one qualm about it is the lack of enough tapering links (there is a bit of taper right next to where the bracelet connects with the case). However, this would have increased the price of the watch, since it means just that many more part types that need to be produced. The mostly 20mm-wide bracelet feels a bit chunky when compared to the dimensions of the case. To keep the case elegant and the crown out of the way, Citizen designed the Tsuyosa case to have a smaller crown positioned at the 4 o’clock position on the case, reminiscent of the 1970s and 1980s watches this overall style is suggestive of.

This is probably my biggest compliment to the Citizen Tsuyosa Small Second: It very much feels like a positive emulation of Japanese dress watches from a few decades ago, only produced and styled for today’s generation of watch lovers. Mixing distinct homages to European luxury watches with Japanese construction quality and value, the Citizen Tsuyosa automatic watches deliver a trendy look in a serious package that enthusiasts can easily stand by as a “good deal.”

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The appeal for many people in this particular Tsuyosa Small Second product family will be not so much the movement but the textured dial design with the subsidiary seconds dial. While this is not an authentic hand-operated rose engine guilloché dial (a high-end artisanal element available in more expensive luxury watches), the stamped guilloché-style dial on the Tsuyosa Small Second is nicely done and well-colored. The overall design of the dial is not only classy but also legible with lume-painted applied hour markers and hands. Let me also acknowledge the welcome design restraint at play by Citizen in keeping the dial functional and minimalistic without any unwanted text.

You can admire the in-house mechanical movement through the window on the rear of the watch case. This is Citizen’s caliber 8322, which is an interesting and still uncommon movement from Citizen. Based on the budget-friendly 8000 series mechanical movement family, it is going to be a bit more basic and operate at 3Hz. But Citizen has put more effort into decorating the movement and bolstering its performance. The “rear view” of this Citizen Tsuyosa Small Second is decidedly prettier than the movement view on the Citizen Tsuyosa Automatic. More so, the caliber 8322 has 60 hours of power reserve. In a way, this is Citizen’s answer to the Swatch Group’s [slightly more expensive] Powermatic 80 family of mechanical automatic movements.

Most of Citizen’s watches with the more expensive 9000 series-based movements cost at least double the price (such as the Citizen Series 8 model family) of your average Tsuyosa timepiece. Citizen is specifically trying to enter the market at an affordable price point with the Tsuyosa watches, while offering value and fun, but also providing reasons for enthusiasts to look even higher at the more elite watches produced by the brand. A few years ago, I mentioned that mechanical watches were going to be a serious part of Citizen’s strategy moving forward (in addition to popular products such as its quartz Eco-Drive movement technology), and that has been proving true. Few major watch brands out there can offer this much mechanical dress watch for such a good price.

Refinement quirks aside (such as the thicker and wider bracelet), the Citizen Tsuyosa Small Second is a very competent and handsome timepiece. It is ideal for those who want a contemporary retro-style mechanical dress or smart-looking, daily-wear timepiece for just a few hundred dollars. Watches like this also tend to be more on the timeless side and will continue to be wearable and relevant years from now. What will be difficult for consumers to decide is which version to get. With multiple colors and movements now available, searching through the existing Citizen Tsuyosa Small Second and Automatic watches allows fans to find something that neatly suits their tastes and personalities. Price for the Citizen “Tsuyosa” Small Second NK5010 is $550 USD for the gray model on leather, with the two models on steel bracelets priced at$595 USD. Learn more at the Citizen website.

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