Are Citizen Watches Good? [Or A Waste Of Money?]


If you are reading this article, you are probably looking for some info on Citizen watches.   

So are Citizen watches good? Let’s find out. We will look at Citizen’s history and reputation.

We will also look into pros and cons, as well as some recommended models for you to check out.

Let’s start!

About Citizen

Citizen is the core company of a Japanese conglomerate, Citizen Watches Co. The company is based in Tokyo, Japan. 

It also owns several major watch brands, including Alpina, Frédérique Constant, Bulova, and La Joux-Perret.

Citizen is currently much known within the watch world for their Eco-Drive movement.

ALSO READ: Bulova vs Citizen Is Citizen Better Than Bulova?

History of Citizen 

1918

The Brand ‘Citizen’ was first registered in Switzerland by Rodolphe Schmid. The brand is used for the watches he was selling in Japan.

1920s

Citizen watches grew, with support from influential Japanese politicians such as Count Goto Shinpei.

Even Prince Regent of Japan (Emperor Showa) bought Citizen watches.

The goal is to make the watch available to the public at a low price. 

1930s

Citizen was officially founded as a company, using the seed money from Japanese and Swiss investors. It took over the Sokosha Watch Research Institute.

Citizen started exporting their watches overseas, to south-east Asia. Citizen also started producing 10 ½ ligne calibre, followed by an 8 ¾ in 1935. 

Lignes are measurements of a watch movement’s size. The smaller it is, the smaller the movement, the more technical and difficult it is to produce. 

1940s

Citizen produced watches, chronometers, and igniters for the war effort.

Citizen also further improved their design by releasing a 5 ¼ ligne caliber around this time. 

After the devastation of World War 2, Citizen set up a Citizen Trading Company in 1949. The goal is to help market Citizen watches worldwide. 

1950s

Citizen took off like a rocket during this period, releasing multiple models that sealed its status.

It released the Citizen Calendar, the first men’s wristwatch with a date display in Japan. 

Citizen also produced Citizen Parashock, the first shock-proof Japanese watch, in 1956.

It also launched The Citizen Auto, its first automatic-winding wristwatch. It is powered by Cal.3KA movement. 

The Citizen Deluxe was released as well. This movement features central seconds and sold over 100 million worldwide. 

Citizen closed off the 1950s with Citizen Parawater; its first water-resistant wristwatch in 1959.

1960s

Building from the success and reputation built during the 50s, Citizen partnered with Bulova for import and export.

It released the Citizen Diamond Flake, Japan’s thinnest watch in 1962. It beat Seiko Gold Feather by a mere 0.2mm. 

Citizen also introduced the Quartz-transistor clock in 1963 but took their time before releasing it in 1967. 

During this time, Citizen ventured into precision instruments and office equipment.

Citizen was also released with the Citizen X-8 (Cosmotron), Japan’s first electronic watch.

1970s

Citizen started moving towards the production of quartz watches.

Utilizing available and emerging technology, Citizen released the Cystron Mega Quartz in 1975. It is one of the most accurate watches in the world at that time.

When battery-powered quartz watches took the world by storm, Citizen upped the game by releasing the Cystron Solar Cell in 1976. The watch is powered by light instead of a battery.

1980s

Japan became the world’s largest watch producer, and Citizen was the ‘big brother’ of it all – becoming the world’s largest manufacturer of watch movements in 1986.

Citizen released the Voice Master in 1987, the first watch in the world with voice recognition. 

1990s

Citizen went further into solar-powered watches to stay ahead of its competition.

This culminated with the Eco-Drive watch line in 1995. It has since then become Citizen’s most iconic and best-selling watch line.

Citizen built on this success by producing variations of the Eco-Drive such as the Exceed Eco-Drive, Eco-Drive Signature Technology, Promaster Eco-Drive Aqualand, and Exceed Lady’s Eco-Drive.

Recent Years

Citizen started building a conglomerate of brands by acquiring watch companies. This is done using the war chest accumulated over the years.

Miyota, a famous watch movement manufacturer, was acquired. America’s Bulova followed suit in 2008.

In 2016, Citizen also brought Switzerland’s Frédérique Constant, Alpina, and Ateliers DeMonaco under its wings. 

Today, Citizen is the world’s fifth-largest watch company behind Swatch, Richemont, Rolex, and LVMH.

Are Citizen Watches Good

Where Are Citizen Watches Made?

Citizen manufactures their watches and movement mainly in Japan, with lower-end models outsourced to factories outside. 

Citizen runs 12 factories in Japan, with many focusing on producing higher-end models. Some also focus wholly on production movements, such as the Miyota factory in Miyota, Japan. 

Citizen manufactures all the parts in-house, with stringent quality checks and controls.

What Movements Does Citizen Use?

Citizen watches are powered by Automatic or Quartz movements. But Citizen is much more known for its Eco-Drive family of watch movements.

The Citizen Eco-Drive

Eco-Drive is a light-powered watch movement. the light could be natural or artificial. 

A special titanium lithium-ion secondary battery is added to the watch movement to achieve this. 

The battery is then connected to an amorphous silicon photocell, placed behind the dial.

This allows the watch to constantly be charged by the sun or light. 

With Eco-Drive, a watch can run almost forever. You do not need to wind it or wear it to keep it running.

Think about this – no more watch winder, no more issues of dead watches from not being worn for a long time. Just expose it to light, and it will run, run, and run. That’s powerful.

Eco-Drive is also an environmentally-friendly movement.

It has eliminated the use of over 10 million watch batteries in North America alone since its launch.

Citizen Watch Reputation

Citizen watches are known for their solar technology.

It is also known for robustness and accuracy. The design is also simple and timeless. 

It also earned its reputation with its highly innovative approach to watch production.

By producing almost all of their parts in-house, they can control the quality much better. 

Citizen watches also come in a wide range of prices, making them very accessible to the public. 

Citizen’s lower range models can have lower quality bracelets. But these are user-upgradeable parts, so it is not a major issue. 

Citizen’s biggest reputation issue remains with counterfeit, fake watches. Poorly made, they still ‘carry’ the brand name and give people a false impression of the watch.

Are Citizen Watches Good

Is Citizen A High-End Watch?

Citizen is probably not a high-end watch. However, it is one of the best-manufactured watches, with great price points. 

It does not start off as a luxury brand, but rather an attempt to bring watch technology to Japanese public.

Such was the reason behind the name ‘Citizen,’ as given by Count Goto Shinpei. 

Citizen watches can start at below $100, with their subsidiary watch ranges such as the QQ at even lower prices. 

Citizen’s premium ranges such as the Signature, or The Citizen would cost you a few thousand dollars. 

If we compare that price with luxury timepieces from Rolex or Patek Philippe… you get the point.

Citizen Watches: Pros & Cons

Citizen watches have great history. But are Citizen watches good, with no flaws at all?

Pros: Excellent Watches at Great Price Point

Many Swiss watch brands like to market their watches with ‘stories’.

Some like to sell you intangible values such as being a part of history. Think about how Omega markets the Speedmaster Moon Watch.

Citizen rarely does that. They go straight into the heart of watchmaking. 

They focus on producing excellent watches using great materials, parts and technology. Then they price their watches at a range that justifies it. 

Every buck you paid out gets you a tangible, quality watch with excellent workmanship. 

ALSO READ: Best Affordable Watch Brands For Men

Pros: The Watch That Runs Itself

Citizen’s Eco-Drive technology ensures your watch will run almost forever, with exposure to light. This makes for a more effortless watch ownership experience. 

No more battery replacement or having to keep your watch on a winder. 

So if you keep multiple Citizen watches with Eco-Drive, it will be much easier to maintain them.

Cons: The Lower Range Citizen

Lower Range citizens runs well, but the bracelets’ quality can be an issue. 

It is common to see cost-cutting measures taken on the bracelets of lower-end Citizens, such as hollow end links. 

Fortunately, these are user-upgradeable parts. You can always change them to something more premium when you see the need to. 

Cons: Conservative Design

Citizen has a reputation of being more conservative in their designs, as they rarely experiment with bold design.

If you like big, colorful watches (e.g., Panerai or some Bulovas), then Citizen watches might not attract you. 

The upside to their approach is that the design becomes timeless.

In fact, some of Citizen’s vintage watches from the 1960s are still classy today. 

Are Citizen Watches Good

Are Citizen Watches Good & Worth The Money?

Absolutely. Citizen cuts through the ‘fluff’ that Swiss watch brands like to do when marketing their watches. 

They focus on producing solid, robust, elegant timepieces backed with innovative technology. 

They are also very transparent with their pricing

This is why their watches are not overly expensive.

If you pay more money for their higher range products, you get more from your watch.

The Citizen watch lines, for example, can cost thousands. But instead of stainless steel, you get titanium.

ALSO READ: Do Citizen Watches Hold Value Well?

How Long is the Citizen Watch Warranty?

Citizen offers a 5-Year Limited Warranty on their watches, limited to:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • UK
  • Ireland
  • Caribbean
  • Mexico.

If the watch malfunctions due to manufacturing defects, the warranty covers it. 

Citizen’s warranty details are available in full here.

Where To Buy Citizen Watch?

We recommend two places to shop for Citizen watches:

If you buy from Citizen’s website, you can confirm that the watch you purchase is genuine, and Citizen also will have your purchase record directly.

Which makes future warranty claims a lot easier. 

On top of that, you get to see the prices directly on their website. You do not need to call and compare prices with multiple resellers. 

However, Citizen’s U.S. website feature models sold officially in the U.S. 

If you want to view a more extensive range of watches, we recommend Amazon. 

Citizen has many Japanese Domestic Models (JDM) that are beautiful and amazing. However, they are not sold overseas. 

You can hunt for these JDM watches on Amazon. 

Plus, when shopping on Amazon, you know the watches are real, as Amazon only allows authentic products in their store.

You also get to read reviews before purchasing. We recommend only buying watches with at least 4 out of 5 stars.

How To Spot A Fake Citizen Watch?

Citizen watches have a stellar reputation. As a result, their watches are being copied by imitation manufacturers. 

Here’s how to spot a fake Citizen watch:

  • Always ask for the full complement of the watch. Does it come with a manual? Box? Warranty cards?
  • Always match the serial number of the manual and warranty cards with the watch model to be sure. 
  • Give the watch a thorough visual inspection. Are there any flaws or defects? If the flaws are too obvious, chances are they could be fake. 
  • Check on the spellings and letterings used on the watch face, case back, and buckles. Misspellings can indicate that the watch is fake.
  • Check the watch’s serial number with Citizen’s support at their website. 
  • Always take the watch to a watchmaker to verify authenticity when in doubt.

Regardless of your watch collecting journey or your budget, there is always a Citizen to suit your needs. Here are some that we recommend:

Citizen Quartz Men’s Watch, BI1030-53A

Simple, timeless design. Featuring stainless steel sunray dial, luminous hour and minute hands, and a date window. 42mm dial with 30M water resistance. Cheap and cheerful too!

Citizen Eco-Drive Garrison BM6838-17L

This military watch design has 100M water resistance in a stainless steel case. Powered by Eco-Drive, and comes with a camel-colored leather strap with navy blue dial and date.

Citizen Eco-Drive Calendrier BU2023-04E

44mm Gold-tone watch with Eco-Drive and textured dial with world time and subdials. Also comes with 100M water resistance with anti-reflective mineral crystal.

Citizen Eco-Drive Navihawk JY8031-56L

This model appears with a stainless steel mesh bracelet, stainless steel case, blue dial, and bezel with yellow details. Featuring Eco-Drive technology.

Citizen Eco-Drive Corso AT2141-52L

This chronograph watch features a blue sunray dial with three subdials, placed indices, baton hands, and date window at four o’clock. Stainless still bracelet with 100M water resistant.

So, Are Citizen Watches Good?

Alright, back to the question: are Citizen watches good?

To us, it is a resounding YES. 

Citizen watches are well known for robustness, quality and excellent workmanship.

The designs are classy and timeless as well.

The price? Super attractive, and makes sense.

The watch is also highly accurate, and requires little maintenance (if you purchased one with Eco-Drive technology).

It also comes in various designs that rarely go out of style, and the price points are also very attractive that practically anyone can own a Citizen watch.

Citizen is a watch that you can really consider if you look for a watch that will last you for years. 

Nigel Ignatius

Nigel is the principal creator of WatchPursuits.com, a website dedicated to watches. Inspired by the dedication and effort of watchmakers now and old, Nigel has a passion for watches and looks forward to share his passion with the world.

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