Citizen has long been known for their Eco-Drive series, using ambient light to power their watch movements. New to the market is their familiar-sounding yet more concisely named collection: Drive. Though it may seem their creative team was out to lunch on the branding side of things, the watches in this new series showcase the same dedication to craftsmanship and precision that you’ve come to expect from Citizen.
This review will look at the AW1150-07E, one of the more discreet designs in the Drive collection.
First, what’s new about Drive?
According to Citizen, Drive is “uniquely designed for the millennials, the next generation of Citizen Eco-Drive consumers.” The designs are intended to be more youthful, edgy, and affordable, while retaining the traditional Citizen quality of workmanship—and, of course, the same light-powered technology. If the elevator pitch sounds a little gimmicky to you, you’re not alone, but read on about the watch itself before you decide whether this new collection is for you.
This watch presents one of the cleaner, simpler designs in the new Drive line—just black and chrome, clean lines, and no complications to speak of. There are color variations (the AW1151-04E, for instance, which has bright blue accents), and there are more ostentatious siblings with multiple subdials. Citizen may be trying to entice “the millennials” with flashy designs, but the understated elegance of the AW1150-07E is what really sets it apart.
The AW1150 is a visually cohesive piece. Clean lines and seamless curves make this an aesthetically pleasing watch. For instance, the black poly band rests flush against the round case, and the black middle section of the case nicely offsets the chrome-finish bezel and lugs. Even the black incision around the crown seems like a thoughtful design choice: both silver and black are integrated throughout the watch instead of competing for attention on separate components.
The black watch face is simple enough, but quietly sports its own stylistic features. The outer ring displays white minute markers. Inside of that runs a series of fine concentric grooves. The large middle section of the face has a subtle, rippling texture, with peaks and troughs that run vertically across the dial.
The hour markers are silver-tone applied stick indices. The three-hand design is both traditional and slightly unusual: the base of each hand is black, so it disappears against the dial, while the tip of each hand is silver, so it appears to float, unattached, along the outer chapter ring. This is probably fine for the minute and hour hands—it seems Citizen was going for a minimalist look here—but the visible portion of the second hand bears a strange resemblance to a mouse cursor. Is this unintentional, or is it a nod to the tech-heavy diet of the millennial target audience?
The watch face is free of any complications with a small date window at three o’ clock. The font used is greyish, perhaps an attempt at matching the silvery tones found elsewhere, but plain white numerals would have shown up more clearly.
This is a 44 mm watch and 12 mm thick. Even the band width is an impressive 23 mm. If it sounds like a ponderous timepiece, at just 12 ounces you may be surprised how light it feels on even an average-sized wrist. The crown doesn’t protrude too far, either—a fully-flexed wrist may not even bump into it.
The dial window is flat mineral glass, a minor drawback if you prefer the security of scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. While this is not considered a dive watch, it does offer water resistance of up to 100 meters.
The AW1150 comes with a black perforated polyurethane band with a buckle closure. If you’re concerned about having too much band on a small wrist, the band does have two loops to keep any overlap in check and maintain a low profile.
At the heart of the AW1150 is a Japanese quartz J810 MaxPlus movement. A full charge will require 30 hours of light exposure and produce an impressive power reserve of 240 days—perfect if you find daily watch-winding a pain.
Besides showcasing trendy designs, Citizen’s Drive collection aims to incorporate cutting-edge technologies. One such technology is Citizen’s proprietary Chroma finish. The watch case is ordinary stainless steel, but the Chroma process coats the case with a single layer of color, then a layer of powder, and finally seven layers of clear coat. This is similar to the way cars are given such a shiny finish. The Chroma process creates bold colors and an extremely durable, scratch-resistant finish. This may not be totally conspicuous on the black-and-silver AW1150, but if you take a look at some of its boldly-colored variants, you’re sure to notice the Chroma difference.
New collection, same Citizen feel
Whether you buy into the millennial-centric marketing or not, the new Citizen Drive line is built on the same design philosophy and light-fueled technology as always, with some new features like the Chroma finishing process. The AW1150-07E is sleek yet simple, with understated looks that work for both the conference room and the man cave. A huge plus is the extremely modest price tag. If you’re looking for an inexpensive Citizen watch for your collection, you may want to start here.