I think I even surprised Citizen watches when I had immediate interest in the new-for-2016 Eco-Drive Super Titanium collection of timepieces. Not long before seeing these new watches, I visited some of Citizen’s factory locations in Japan to see how they made much of their most important technology. This included both Eco-Drive movements and dials, as well as their well-regarded “Super Titanium” which is a specially treated titanium metal designed to be very scratch-resistant.
What drew me to the Citizen Eco-Drive Super Titanium AW0060 collection of watches was a combination of price, design, and features. This isn’t the last watch you’ll ever need, but it is a great watch for the money and, more importantly, has a lot more personality than most timepieces at this price. This is really important when it comes to affordable Japanese watches because their designs can at times come across as being generic unless you find things in the $1,000-plus price range. Here we have a cool case design and inspired yet classic dial which is easy to read.
At present, Citizen offers four models of the Citizen Eco-Drive Super Titanium as this reference AW0060-03E, as well as the AW0060-11P, AW0060-54A, and the AW0060-54H. Each of these four models shares the same case design, but they have different colored and textured dials, and different strap/bracelet options. I must say that really only the first 2-3 dial options have acceptable legibility, and this AW0060-03E model is the most legible of the lot given its white-colored hands. The latter three dials seem to be fashion experiments which are workable, but not as ideal. Further, the AW0060-54H version has an extremely difficult-to-read “phantom” black-on-black dial whose appeal sort of confuses me. With that said, only the latter two dial versions come with the matching Super Titanium bracelet which is fantastic, especially for the money.
That leads me to an odd suggestion for those who like the Eco-Drive Super Titanium as much as me. Get the AW0060-03E dial and then one of the models on the bracelet (such as the AW0060-54A) and swap the bracelet for the leather strap. The strap is actually nice looking, but you might know me as a sucker for bracelets, so I prefer it. The two leather straps have ostrich-pattern on the outside, which looks pretty decent and not like a cheap-looking fake alligator pattern. On the reviewed watch, the strap is black with orange stitching to match the seconds hand. Note the custom strap buckle meant to go with the theme of the case design.
I am pretty sure that Citizen will want to keep revisiting this collection of Eco-Drive Super Titanium watches in the near future and will likely come out with additional models – but of course, there is no promise or guarantee of that. Design-wise, I love the angular case with its 12-sided geometric bezel. On the bezel are minute indicators and they go with the overall “sharp looking” design of the Super Titanium-crafted case.
For me, this case design direction began a few years ago with the pricier Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave F100 watch collection (reviewed here). There, you saw Citizen explore this wonderful contemporary style that, in my opinion, showcased the strength of the brand quite well. The F100 was also in titanium but, even at its more expensive price, I don’t think it was Super Titanium. So, the value of the Citizen Eco-Drive Super Titanium AW0060 collection is very real. Again, to remind you, the point of Super Titanium is its scratch resistance. Normal titanium is both strong and light, but it scratches very easily. Super Titanium is coated in order to be five times as scratch resistant (surface strength) as normal titanium.
On the wrist, the Citizen Eco-Drive Super Titanium AW0060 (an admittedly generic name which doesn’t lend personality to the watch) is 44mm wide and impressively thin, and also wears very comfortably. The case is water resistant to 100 meters and is capped with a mineral (versus sapphire) crystal. It would have cost more money to install a sapphire crystal, and given this price, I think a mineral crystal is acceptable.
In my opinion, the dial design is a modern update on a classic theme of practical utility. Relatively clean, we have some nice texturing choices such as the brushed metal hour markers, and overall good detailing. The hands have no business being skeletonized, but on the AW0060-03E model you can read the time well enough. Unfortunately, none of these watches has luminant – which is really such an odd design choice given the particular textures and colors that Citizen wanted to go with. With that said, at least on the reviewed model, the high level of dial contrast allows for good legibility in low-light conditions.
Inside the watch is Citizen’s quartz Eco-Drive caliber J800 movement. Light enters through the dial to a photovoltaic cell to charge the internal battery. Gotta love watches which allow you to regularly appreciate the photoelectric effect! The movement offers the time as well as a day/date indicator that many people find useful. Citizen Eco-Drive movements aren’t per se fancy, but they are reliable, simple to live with, and a last a very long time.
If you are in the market for a good-looking yet affordable watch which is going to be reliable and have some personality, the Citizen Eco-Drive Super Titanium AW0060 is a good way to go – just make sure you choose the dial style which is right for you. On the strap, models like the Citizen Eco-Drive Super Titanium AW0060-03E have a retail price of just $325, and on the matching Super Titanium bracelet (for other models) the price goes up marginally to $375. citizenwatch.com
Model: Eco-Drive Super Titanium (AW0060-03E as tested).
Price: US $325 – $375
Size: 44mm wide
Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
Friend we’d recommend it to first: Lovers of angular or geometric cases who value Eco-Drive movements and like the idea of an affordable scratch-resistant titanium watch case.
Best characteristic of watch: Great value for the money and attractive, personality-rich design that offers a non-generic look from a top Japanese watch maker. Cool-looking and comfortable case, and a nice mix of traditional appeal with contemporary aesthetics.
Worst characteristic of watch: Lack of luminant on the dial is not ideal, but not a deal breaker. However, many of the dial designs for this watch are difficult to read, so choose carefully. Would be nice to have both a strap and bracelet option for all the models. Would be really nice with sapphire crystal.