Citizen Watch Brand Review | Are They Good Quality Watches?

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Citizen is the core company of a Japanese conglomerate, Citizen Watch Co. Ltd., that is currently based in Tokyo, Japan.

It is generally popular for its Eco-Drive watches that are powered primarily by light. With the slogan, Better Starts Now, the company has been driven to always produce something better. As a result, more functions were added to their watches, they offered more beautiful designs and released a greater variety to suit every citizen’s taste.

If you’ve already decided that Citizen is the brand for you and are just looking for recommendations, check out our picks for the best Citizen watches for men here.

close up of citizen watch face
Citizen Watch Photo By Pixalli

Currently, the parent company owns a number of well-known watch brands including, but not limited to, Alpina, Frédérique Constant, Bulova and La Joux-Perret. As such, it is manufacturing a wide variety of watches – tuning-fork watches, Swiss watches, watch with jewels and even electrical ones.

In addition to these, it has also been producing calculators and small electronic organizers. There are also handheld televisions and computer printers bearing the Citizen brand name.

In the 1980s, there were handheld electronic games released under the Q&Q brand, a subsidiary of Citizen. By 1990s, it produced notebook computers in Japan in partnership with Compaq Computer Corporation. Said computers were marketed under the partner’s name.

History of Citizen watches

Citizen Watch Co. Ltd. started in 1918 with the name Shokosha Watch Research Institute.

1920s: The first pocket watch bearing the name “Citizen” was produced in 1924. It was the then Mayor of Tokyo, Mr. Shimpei Goto who named the watch as such with the vision that the watch, a luxury item during those time, would become widely available to the general public in every part of the world.

One of its first products was even purchased by a Prince Regent at the time, Emperor Showa.

1930s: The foundations for the Citizen watch empire was laid in 1930 by Yosaburo Nakajima. In 1931, Citizen started producing a 10 ½ ligne caliber which was then followed by an 8 ¾ in 1935.  The company started exporting watches to Southeast Asia in 1936.

1940s: A 5 ¼ ligne caliber was then introduced in 1940.  During World War II, Citizen produced chronometers and igniters and other components for the military.

In 1949, the Citizen Trading Company was established. Its main goal is to manage the distribution and marketing of Citizen watches throughout the globe.

1950s: In the early 1950s, Citizen Calendar, the first men’s wristwatch with date display in Japan was released. Citizen acquired a clock manufacturer as its affiliate company, The Rhythm Clock Co. (now known as The Rhythm Watch Co., Ltd.) in 1953.

In 1956, the brand produced Parashock, the first shock-proof Japanese watch.

Citizen next launched its first automatic-winding wristwatch, Auto, fitted with Cal.3KA. In this same year, Citizen Deluxe with Cal.920, Citizen’s first caliber with central seconds was released and it has gained wide support with over 100 million sales.

By 1959, the company manufactured Japan’s first water-resistant wristwatch called the Citizen Parawater.

1960s: In 1960, Citizen partnered with the American watch company, Bulova, for import/export.  In 1962, the company introduced the Diamond Flake. An officially certified chronometer and the world’s thinnest men’s wristwatch with center seconds.  Citizen also introduced the Quartz-transistor clock by 1963 but it was not until 1967 when it was released on the market.

In line with the company’s diversification strategy, Citizen established the Citizen Office Machine Co., Ltd., now known as Japan CBM Corporation, in 1964. The following year, it started producing office equipment and precision manufacture components.

X-8 (Cosmotron), Japan’s first electronically regulated balance wristwatch was released in 1966.

1970s: In the 70s decade, Citizen moved towards the production of more quartz timepieces, which now forms the majority of its products. However, it did not completely forego the mechanical movements in this decade.

The company launched its first quartz wristwatch in 1973. In 1974, the first Japanese LCD technology watch was introduced, along with the solar-powered technology.  Its legendary Cryston Mega Quartz was launched in 1975. It is considered one of the world’s most accurate and most expensive wristwatches ever released to the market.

Along with the outbreak of battery-powered quartz watches, Citizen introduced a breakthrough with the world’s first light-powered analog quartz in 1976, the Crystron Solar Cell.

1980s: By 1980, Japan became the world’s largest producer of watches and watch movements. The company released the world’s most water-resistant watch available for the public in 1981 – the 1300m Professional Diver’s watch.

Citizen became the world’s largest single manufacturer of watch movements in 1986. It also introduced the first wristwatch with voice recognition in 1987 called Voice Master or Voice Memo in Japan.

Citizen ProMaster Marine Image by: Daniel Zimmermann

1990s: In 1995, after various refinements with the solar-powered watches, the Eco-Drive line was finally introduced to Asia, Latin America, and Europe; followed by the United States in April 1996. It has quickly become the brand’s number one best-seller.

The following year, it was awarded the first “Eco-Mark”, an officially certified Japanese award for environmental protection.

Throughout the decade, the company focused on launching more watches in the Eco-Drive line such as the Exceed Eco-Drive, Eco-Drive Signature Technology, Promaster Eco-Drive Aqualand and Exceed Lady’s Eco-Drive. These and other models that the company released have set new standards in the watch market.

Recent years

In recent years, it was observed that Citizen has been aggressively implementing its multi-brand strategy. At the onset, it merged with Citizen Shoji and acquired Miyota Co. Ltd., including its several small component manufacturing subsidiaries.

By January 2008, the company then bought the American watch brand Bulova Watch Company along with all its affiliated brands, Bulova, Caravelle, Wittnauer, and Accutron.

To complete its brand portfolio, in May 2016, this giant conglomerate then bought Switzerland’s Frédérique Constant Holding SA together with its watch brands – Frédérique Constant, Alpina and Ateliers DeMonaco.

At present, the Citizen group is already composed of the following watch brands: Citizen, Campanola, Q&Q, Arnold & Son, Bulova, Bulova Accutron II, Bulova AccuSwiss, Wittnauer, Caravelle New York, Bulova Clocks, Frank Lloyd Wright*, Harley-Davidson*, Frédérique Constant, Alpina, Ateliers de Monaco.

The Citizen Eco-Drive

Now, let’s talk more about this Eco-Drive. Eco-Drive is actually a technology developed by Citizen that uses energy from any kind of light sources, artificial or natural.

Citizen competes directly with Seiko (and other brands) selling some of the best solar-powered watches on the market.

To do this, most eco-drive watches have a special titanium lithium-ion secondary battery charged by an amorphous silicon photocell located behind the dial. The harnessed light energy is stored in this secondary battery that can be charged to continuously run. Because of this Eco-Drive, it was said that North America alone was able to eliminate the disposal of over 10 million batteries.

To better understand how the Eco-Drive technology works, watch this video:

Since these watches do not run on batteries, they are expected to last longer. Based on some experiments, the solar cells and the second battery in Eco-Drive watches can last up to 10 years. But to further lengthen this, during the production of these watches, they utilized lubricants that will not harden or evaporate even up to more than 20 years, therefore, prolonging the life of your Eco-Drive watch.

Amazon offers almost a thousand Eco-Drive watches for you to choose from.

Where Are Citizen Watches Made?

As you have read, Citizen started its production in Japan. However, with its continuous expansion and diversification, the development and manufacturing of its products now take place in many different countries.

Primarily, its tuning-fork watches come from America. The watch jewels are in from Switzerland while France handles the brand’s electrical watches.

In addition, there are also production plants in India, Hong Kong, South Korea, and even in Germany and Mexico.

Despite its widespread production, a strict quality assurance protocol is being implemented to make sure that all watches bearing the brand name meet the company’s core standards.

Citizen Watch Reputation

Citizen Women's Eco-Drive Silhouette Crystal watch with Date, EW1908-59A
Women’s Citizen Eco-Drive Silhouette Crystal (Image: Amazon)

Citizen has established its name for high-quality watches. Their timepieces are aesthetically pleasing and technically innovative. Their Eco-Drive watches particularly are gaining popularity.

According to this community-based online forum the top competitors of Citizen (as accordingly ranked from first to last) are G-Shock, Timex, Fossil Garmin, TW Steel, Swatch, Titan, Guess Watches, Nike and others.

In addition, being originally a Japanese brand, it is also oftentimes compared with another Japanese brand, Seiko. If you’re going to ask which of these Japanese brands is better, read this post for more detailed analysis:

Seiko vs Citizen brand comparison

Apart from quality watches, what many say ruins the great reputation of this watch brand is its Customer Service Department.

Customers generally agree that the after-sales service of the company is not as satisfying as their products. Not only in the US but other global sites, the service gets poor reviews, especially when it comes to getting the watches repaired.

Perhaps this is one aspect that the Citizen should work on. Although we do think that many of those review sites may be somewhat biased towards people with negative reviews (customers rarely go out of their way to find these sites to leave positive reviews on companies). They generally have an overwhelming number of people that were upset enough to register and write a complaint, so they

With a long list of brands on its portfolio, the Citizen group has now created a wide range of clientele. With such, is also an increased number of competing brands.

Are Citizen Watches Good Quality?

Even in various forums and reviews among customers, watch enthusiasts and collectors, there is no dispute about the quality of watches being produced by Citizen. They are said to be not just good but “great” and “awesome” even.

As we’ve mentioned on every watch brand overview we’ve done, quality is always somewhat relative and subjective. The features that prioritize in a watch and your budget will also determine in large part what you regard as good quality.  We would need to consider the price range and the category of the watch. Citizen watches are not luxury but they are also not cheap fashion watches so we wouldn’t directly compare them to watches in either of those categories

While you won’t get the high-end watchmaking or horological significance of a luxury Swiss watch brand, Citizen does deliver quality watches that are reliable and long-lasting. They are highly regarded in the consumer watch category and their watches are affordable with many of their watches selling for a few hundred dollars or less with many watches selling for under $100.

However, Citizen also makes quality watches with specific features, such as their Citizen Promaster Diver that landed on our list of Best Dive watches under $500 or the Citizen Promaster Skyhawk A-T that landed on our list of Best Pilot Watches.

The Citizen Eco-Drive is also a well-respected solar technology in the watch industry and they are considered some of the best solar watches.

Adding to its popularity and credibility are the various awards that the brand received for their quality craftsmanship. It has also been one of the longest-running sponsors of the International Skating Union, supporting the competition since 1982. It is also the current official timekeeper of the US Open.

This 2018, the Walt Disney Company even announced that Citizen will be the official timepiece of Disneyland Resorts in Anaheim, Florida, Paris, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, and of Marvel New Media’s Creative Space.

These awards and partnerships pretty much validate how good the watches are, and how accepted the company is in general.

Where to buy Citizen watches?

Citizen watches are available worldwide. To help you find a store nearest you, enter your location here and it will do the search for you.

You may also shop directly from Citizen’s website

or choose among the hundreds of Citizen watches on Amazon.

If you are in the UK or EU, check out deals on Citizen watches on

Just a word of caution, there are also fake watches bearing the brand name that is advertised as authentic ones. So, in order to have the high-quality watch that you want, better to go directly to an authorized retailer or visit the links above.

Overall, you can’t go wrong with a Citizen watch. It is a brand that is well-known worldwide and has established its name throughout history. With its innovations, superior quality, and masterful designs, their watches among the general public’s favorite through the years.

Citizen International Warranty Policy

This international brand offers a three-year and a five-year limited warranty for its watches.

Warranty Coverage

Citizen Men's Eco-Drive Titanium Perpetual Chrono Atomic Timekeeping Watch with Date,  AT4010-50E
Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Titanium (Image: Amazon)

First, the three-year warranty covers all its automatic and quartz watches. Regardless if the watch is purchased in Australia, New Zealand, Republic of South Africa or in the South Pacific Islands, provided that it came from an authorized dealer, the watch has a limited warranty for three years from the date of purchase. In the first year of its warranty is a one-year international guarantee.

The five-year warranty, on the other hand, applies to all Eco-Drive and Promaster watches purchased from an authorized dealer in the above-mentioned regions. It is also a limited warranty from the date of purchase that comes with a one-year international guarantee on its first year.

The limited warranty covers any defect in workmanship or in the material of the watch. The company has the option to regulate, adjust, repair or replace the movement as necessary within a reasonable period of time after the watch is returned during the warranty period.


In general, Citizen commits to repair any watch sent in under warranty within 45 working days after receipt in the repair center. If it deems impossible to accomplish within the said timeframe, the company will replace the watch or provide a substitute watch of comparable value.

Any repair or alteration done by unauthorized technicians may void the warranty.

If your watch needs to be repaired outside the warranty period, the company may check or assess your watch, free of charge. It will then provide you with a written quotation for the repair job. Only when the final quotation is accepted will the company commenced on the repair process.

It will aim to complete the repair as soon as possible, but it will greatly depend on the availability of the needed parts.

If you want to know more about the warranty, read this. Or if you have some questions about your Citizen watch, this page will be helpful.

20 thoughts on “Citizen Watch Brand Review | Are They Good Quality Watches?”

  1. My eco drive watch battery ceased charging properly after 6 and a half years so so much for the slogan “The watch that runs forever”

    Wrote to UK MD complaining and guess what deathly silence

  2. I have the eco drive chronograph (0870 model) 1999 it’s 2020 and it’s still works, never had it serviced or anything, it’s my favourite watch out of the three I have (iwatch, rotary havana) highly recommend these eco drive watches

  3. Andrew-Thanks for the feedback. We agree the Citizen Eco-Drive watches are very reliable (and often underrated). Glad to hear you’ve gotten so much use out of your chronograph!

  4. I’ve have depth gauge ecodrive dive watch bought new in 2000 for $240. Its dove always, up to 100m, used as a backup instrument, its rated 200m. Nightly for years, I left it underneath a small lamp all night to charge, and by morning it always was full. After 10 years, it would take 1-2 hours longer, so I placed it atop some books to bring it closer to the bulb and this made it ready by morning. As more years past, the number of books I need to raise it closer to the bulb grew, and then it didn’t help at 13 years I was already traveling in bright sunshine to a dive job before it gave full reading. By then, it wasn’t doing its job as a backup so I sent it to Citizen USA for service. I paid $230 for the service, they basically gutted the watch, leaving only case and crown as original; entire movement hands, face, and crystal were replaced. Its like new but the battery now charged full in only 2-3 hours, and is like this to this day, 7 years later. On dives under 3 hours, its still on full after the dive.

    They stopped making this model before 2010, so I wasn’t sure it could be salvaged, but they had all the same parts and brought it back to like new factory fresh, as well as depth tested to 200m.

    Moral of the story is the battery doesn’t last forever, at least the first generation, but the second generation is doing better. As for servicing, they only offered 2 types, full refurbishing or battery change, with goal of returning the watch to factory condition. The service is not cheap after warranty, as its was either $230 or $130, so you’d have to decide if worth refurbishing or get a new watch. Labor and shipping I recall was $100 of that cost, not including the cost for you to ship it to them.

  5. One last item, one reason I love Citizen is the ecodrive movement keeps very good time. Rarely adjust it to correct for errors, usually just leap years and daylight saving. This helps the dive reliability by reducing wear on the crown seals, and as such I should mention it has never flooded. Rolex is good for diving, but its mechanical ‘chronometers’ are no better than a cheap quartz, if timekeeping is what you need so the need to adjust time over a year puts it at risk for a flood when used in remote locations.

  6. My eco drive stopped keeping time after 2 1/2 years. Send it in for repair. They told me that there was nothing wrong with the movement but it needed a cleaning and anew gasket. Charged me $125. So much for a five year warranty. My 15 year old Seiko still keeps perfect time. Without any maintenance. Just battery changes. I will never buy another citizen and will not recommend to anyone to buy one.

  7. I just bought a citizen promaster tough BN 0211-50E How would you place this watch compared to EXCEED,SIGNATURE,and AQUALAND? and what is the lifespan of the capacitor?

  8. I bought my Citizen Eco-Drive watch in 2012 as a retirement watch a it as only fail on a couple of occasions. This was due to not getting enough light in the winter. I have learned to make sure it get enough light now in winter. Now it never fails.

  9. Citizen has a serious product quality with Eco Drive watches of various models and with VERY poor Customer Service for warranty and/or repair. I own 6. (4) will not run and or have stopped with blame placed on the customer. I have a claim in with Citizen for an Eco Drive but get only push back. Not giving up. Citizen will step up and honor the warranty or face the social media available to me including import restrictions for poor quality product.
    Terry S Davidson
    Quality Engineering Mgr. for 20 years.

  10. Their quality is great.
    Their customer service is non-existent.
    So buy but do not expect any help if anything goes wrong… get a SEIKO!

  11. I have NO issue with the quality of the watch but Citizen is using the “cheapest” bands available. The Prsym Proximity a brand “new model” watch I purchased needed removal of several links to make the watch fit properly. In the process, I lost three lock pins for the link pins that hold the watch band together and have requested replacements parts over the last three weeks. I contacted support and now all I am getting is pre-written email responses but Citizen has not replaced the parts. I suggest you look closely at their band because there are cheaper watches using far better bands!!!

  12. I have 3 eco drives, a Nighthawk promaster (black case & bracelet) bought in 2007- it has never stopped and has been hammered around the world and swimming…and left in drawers up to 3 months. Also the black anodizing has not worn off. A Red Arrows Radio controlled (12months) which is faultless and another today an eco diver chronograph. I asked Citizen UK for a manual for the Red Arrows watch…and they sent me one free. I am a collector and cannot really criticize Citizen watches.

  13. I have a 5yo Citizen EcoDrive women’s Corso watch. I just found it in the bottom of my washing machine after an overnight soak and two washes. It is still going and showing the correct time! There is no condensation under the crystal and advice from customer service is no action is needed.
    It is a very pretty little watch, keeps great time and evidently the seals are beyond excellent. Highly recommended.

  14. I have been diving with my Citizen Hyper Aqualand for twenty five years. Looks just as good as the day I bought it. Battery replacement has now reached $100 + but it is a great dive watch.

  15. I’m reading this because my beloved Eco Drive has just been rattling around in the tumble dryer. So it must have gone through the wash. It’s very clean. And still working….fingers crossed!

  16. I purchased citizen ecodrive watch (Rs14900/-) at Goa but gurrentte 3years 3month 3days but watch repair in 2years .seller not respond for replace and repair ..
    Very poor quality watchs and poor service .

  17. I’ve owned a number of the EcoDrive watches for many years. The ones I have had have lasted for at least 10 years. A couple of them made it to almost 20 years. At this point, it is the only brand of watch that I buy.

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