When it comes to watches, or watch movements, more specifically, the mechanical movement gets all the love. This is something I very much understand, and appreciate. Quartz movements do have something to offer as well, whether you are looking for absolute accuracy, affordability, or lighter weight. When we get into quartz, there are more options that open up for some cool technology. Take, for instance, how we power the movement. With a mechanical, we can wind it up. For a quartz, well, you’re just swapping batteries, unless you pick up something like a Citizen Eco-Drive.
Now, the Citizen Eco-Drive is a pretty wide product line, so we will focus on just one model (ref. BM7276-01H) which was sent over to us by the folks at DiscountWatchStore.com. This is a fairly basic model, I’d say, with a simple three-handed layout along with a date display (note the dark date wheel!) If this were a basic quartz-driven model, this probably is not even something that would be a blip on our radar to write out. However, we’re talking about it, so that means there is something else up here. That would be the Eco-Drive system.
There are several different ways to power a watch movement, with batteries being predominant for quartz models. With the Citizen Eco-Drive you get into something else – solar power. This is something I am familiar with (and am a fan of) due to one of the very first watches I bought myself. This gives some additional interest to a watch that, aside from styling, might just be a bit ho-hum on the meter. If you want, you can read up more on how the Eco-drive system works here, but suffice to say, it’s powered by light. If it has not gotten enough of a charge, you’ll see the seconds hand start to jump/stutter, pausing then moving two seconds at a time.
This lets you know you need to get it some sun. If it runs out of charge, this particular model does not just go into a standby mode and keep track of the date and time. No, once it’s dead, it’s dead. Then, once you charge it up, then you’ll reset things. In other words, this is not a watch you’ll tuck away in a drawer for long periods of time, unlike any other quartz watch you may have. No, this one would be best to reside (if not on your wrist) on a window ledge, or at least near a window so it’s getting a regular charge.
Outside of the solar powered trick, the Citizen Eco-Drive is a fairly basic quartz three-hander. I do like the grey color scheme that DiscountWatchStore sent over for us to look at. It makes for a crisp delineation on the raised (and lumed) indices and numerals, as well as the handset. I really do not know why the brand went with a globe design on the dial (as this is nowhere approaching a world timer), but I suppose it gives things some more interest than a simple flat dial (and there has to be some layer of translucence for the solar to work). Another odd choice from the brand was the bezel.
When I see a bezel with cutouts for grip, I am expecting to be able to turn it, especially if there are some timing marks on it (as we have on this Citizen Eco-Drive from 12 to 3). That said, this bezel is not one that rotates in the least. The six screw heads on the bezel belie that fact (though, I’ve a feeling those are decorative rather than functional, given how perfectly aligned the slots on them are). This bezel sits on a 46mm case that, I must say, wears a good deal smaller than that, I’d say somewhere in the 42-44mm range, which was good for my wrist. Paired to an 11mm case height, it is a watch with some presence, yet only weighs 90g. For as flat of a surface as we have on the top of the watch, it was a bit surprising that the sides of the angular steel case were in a polished finish. While I do not mind a bit of flash, it does seem a bit incongruous on the watch, as it seems to be going for a much sportier, or rugged, vibe.
That feeling is reinforced on the Citizen Eco-Drive by it’s 24mm strap. This is primarily a fairly thick woven textile, which speaks to a rougher-wear intended watch. There are some reinforcing elements at the lugs and on the buckle holes, and the inside of the strap is also lined in a camo pattern matterial. Since it’s not called out in the materials (or on the strap itself), I have to assume that these are man-made materials rather than leather. The only caveat there would be comfort if you’re wearing this in hot weather, or you test out the 100m WR with a swim, as the synthetic will (likely) get slippery, rather than absorbing any water.
I wore the Citizen Eco-Drive around a decent amount to get a feel for it, mostly to the office and around home (no, this is not one I attempted to wear with a suit). As an everyday watch, it did its job keeping the time. There were a few times I needed to let it sit by a window to charge back up, but that was more due to my intervals of not wearing it than anything else. If you wear long sleeves and are not near a window during the day, you’ll want to keep in mind that it needs to charge. It probably works with interior lighting, but nothing charges quite as well as our trusty sun.
With the Citizen Eco-Drive, there is no single element I would pick on to fail the watch. Sure, a movable bezel would be nice, as would some material upgrades on the strap, but this is a watch designed to a pricepoint. Frankly, when getting into a solar-powered movement at a price of $176, you are going to have some compromises. I think Citizen did a decent job of picking the areas to let slide (especially since a replacement 24mm strap is easy enough to find). While I tend to hold the belief that a good solar (and atomic-syncing, or GPS-syncing) watch is a good option to have in the watch box, the lack of any external syncing drops some functionality that I prefer, though it then does make it a bit more affordable. If you are looking for a watch with some rugged design elements (but does not go full-on tacti-cool), and throws solar charging in, well, you could certainly do worse than the Citizen Eco-Drive. Of course, you can check out more from this lineup from our friends at DiscountWatchStore.
Also of note – if you a finding yourself drawn to this Citizen Eco-Drive, then it’s your lucky day – you have a chance to win this very model. You will just need to do the following steps:
- Comment below what your favorite solar-powered watch is
- Head on over to this signup
- Finally, head on over to the giveaway page to get your entry completed.
Please do note that we match the emails from the entry to comments here, so be sure to do both. Good luck!
- Brand & Model: Citizen Eco-Drive (ref. BM7276-01H)
- Price: $176
- Who’s it for?: You want a basic three-hander, but wouldn’t mind not having a battery that needs swapping as often
- Would I wear it?: If I did not already have a solar-powered watch, this could be an option
- What I’d change: Either make the bezel functional, or remove it
- The best thing about it: The Eco-drive system
- Case Material: Plated Stainless Steel
- Case Width: 46 mm
- Case Height: 50 mm
- Case Thickness: 11 mm
- Movement: Eco Drive E111
- Calendar: Date
- Water Resistant: 100 Meters
- Crown: Screw-down
- Crystal: Mineral
- Band Material: Multi-material
- Band Width: 24 mm
- Clasp Type: Buckle
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