Citizen made the CZ Smart smartwatch, and they should be ashamed of themselves.

Why? Because they’ve learned nothing.

The Web site for the Citizen CZ Smart boasts, “Iconic Citizen design.” We need to have a talk.

When I last told you that it was time to make Citizen Great Again, I was talking about how Citizen needed to come up with a design language that would define it, and make Citizen uniquely identifiable.

This isn’t it. Citizen failed.
Their marketing team wrote those words, without there being anything iconic, or even uniquely Citizen about it.

what is iconic design

There are a lot of design elements to a watch: the case, the crown, and noticeably, the dial.

If you took the branding off three iconic watches, you’d know who made them without a moment’s thought.

(Seriously, Seiko SKX-007, Heuer Monaco (in gulf colors), and Omega Speedmaster.

What is the Citizen watch that has that kind of iconic identity?

There’s really only one. The Citizen Promaster Nighthawk. Name another? I can’t.

what is Citizen actually good at?

Here’s the deal. Citizen is known for:

  • precise time-keeping (GPS, Radio, Solar)
  • quality assurance (you’re unlikely to get a bad one – they’re all equally well-made)
  • very few luxury touches.

That is, Citizen makes technology-driven watches that keep time uniquely well.

Google Android WearOS is not unique. Anyone can license it. Garmin, Fossil, Motorola, anyone.

what does the marketing claim?

The CZ Smart is said to be:

  • Designed for every moment
  • Stay connected and share life’s most memorable moments
  • Health and fitness like never before
  • Iconic Citizen Design
  • Designed for life: Easily plan your day and get answers with Google.
  • Customize your look

One by one, shall we?

  1. Every moment means fitness and non-fitness moments, when you’d want notifications and calendars. This is kind of boring.
  2. Stay connected means texts, calls, emails, and calendar events. Big deal.
  3. Health and fitness like never before, but also, exactly the same as every other WearOS watch. Citizen are not making the case for why we should buy this instead of a Suunto.
  4. Iconic Citizen Design. There’s nothing iconic about a Citizen watch, nothing iconic about this Citizen watch, and the state of Citizen Design is shameful.
  5. Designed for life. This feels like a repeat of staying connected, but they had to work in a Google Assistant mention at the bottom.
  6. WearOS comes with a number of watch faces. This CZ Smart comes with a small collection of watch faces with Citizen branding. There are a few digital faces that mirror some of the 1980s Ana-Digi / Digi-Ana watches, that almost no one remembers.
a Digi-Ana 1980s face

what is a CZ Smart, and should you get one

The Citizen CZ Smart is a ridiculously large 46mm watch. It boasts humdrum design, with tapered lugs that terminate in a 22mm lug width.

There’s a bezel with chamfers that appear in incomplete groupings around the circumference of the watch.

The bezel has an insert like you’d find on a dive watch, with either red and black, black, or blue colors. It isn’t at all apparent that the bezel rotates or works as a means of controlling the smart watch OS.

Speaking of the OS, it’s Google’s WearOS, formerly known as Android Wear. WearOS has had performance updates as recently as September 2020, but it’s a pretty low-key update.

There’s nothing that stands out about this humdrum design. There’s nothing that stands out about WearOS on this watch, as opposed to any other WearOS watch.

Citizen would like $395 USD for one of three models, steel with black and red bezel, DLC black with bracelet and black bezel, or steel with blue bezel. To sweeten the deal, they’ll throw in a free interchangeable strap with each order. Should you buy one? I wouldn’t: I feel lied to when they claim they have anything iconic to show for themselves.

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Last Update: December 29, 2020