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Review: Citizen Eco-Drive One – how thin can you be?

Race to the thinnest
by Chester Lau on March 9, 2019

CITIZEN gives its Eco-Drive collection an ultra thinning, with their Super Titanium™ Eco-Drive One collection. The watch is super thin, super light, super hard and is completely solar powered.

Citizen Eco-Drive One

The Case and Dial

Super Titanium™ is CITIZEN’s proprietary engineered material that takes solid titanium and treats it with Duratect α *5, leaving a material that is 40% lighter than stainless steel, with a surface more than five times harder. Protected by a sapphire crystal, the watch is hypoallergenic and resistant to rust, scratching and water, achieving a perfect balance between strength, sleek design and daily comfort. The watch measures 36.5 mm in diameter with a thickness of 3.53 mm. Its limited edition variant in Altic and Carbide case measures 37 mm wide and 2.98 mm thickness.

With a 1.00mm thick movement and a 2.98 mm case, Eco-Drive One is the world’s thinnest light-powered watch. The dial of Eco-Drive One is made of sapphire crystal just 150 microns thick. Possibly for light transparency, the sapphire dial allows light to pass through to the solar receptors.

The Movement

The 85 components watch are hand assembled by CITIZEN’s master craftsmen. An entirely new assembly technique with reinvented tools and machinery were required to achieve the record-setting thinness of the watch.

The case is looks similar in thickness as a 1 Swiss Franc coin (1.55mm), though it measures larger. This is because the case is tapered on the sides, giving the impression of being thinner.

Unlike most mass production watch companies with outsourced parts, CITIZEN is a manufacture d’horlogerie, doing everything from making the individual parts to performing final assembly in-house. See our report on the CITIZEN manufacture.

The watch uses the Cal.8826, more commonly known as Eco-Drive. Pioneered by CITIZEN in 1976, Eco-Drive is the technology at the heart of Eco-Drive One. Light passing through the dial is converted into electrical energy by a solar cell. This electrical energy then charges the power cell and is sent to the motor to drive the hands. Eco-Drive can now charge in dim light as well as sunlight, eliminating the need to replace batteries. Running time has also increased to over six months on a single full charge.

Several dial combination and variants are available, including one in a crocodile band which makes it look even more dressy than its brethren.

Concluding Thoughts

It is very impressive to hear that brands who are comfortably producing watches en masse and in massive scale are still investing in R&D to cross new boundaries in watchmaking. Everything is made in-house by the brand, from tools to parts to assembly, which shows how important the collection is to CITIZEN, and its high standards for the end-to-end manufacturing. With a watch completely made in Japan, the cost of research and production must have been a hefty investment; which brings us to a segue to the watch’s price tag of US$4500. Possibly the most expensive collection to date for eco-drive and the brand, this shows its efforts to market high-end electrical watches, a niche for the CITIZEN. And we understand from numerous sources that the collection is doing well, perhaps counter intuitive to what most would expect. But perhaps because it occupies a niche which there is only one occupant, it deserves the price of entry.

On the wrist, it looks the part of an ultra sleek, ultra thin dress watch.
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