Are you looking for a watch that incorporates interesting and ecologically sound technology? You might check out the Eco-Drive line of watches by Citizen. The special thing about an Eco-Drive watch is that it is powered by light. It harnesses the power of sunlight or artificial light and combines this solar energy with quartz watch accuracy. The result is a watch that can theoretically run forever and always keep accurate time. Fully charged, an Eco-Drive watch can run for six months in light or dark. I was excited to receive a “Drive by Citizen” Eco-Drive watch for my fifteenth wedding anniversary. The name of this watch seems to vary by merchant, but it is model AW1135-01E. I have seen it called CTO 2.0 and simply Drive by Citizen. No matter what the retailers call it, this Eco-Drive model is a sporty watch with understated but technically sophisticated styling.
Watch Style. The Drive watch has basic black style. It has a black ion plated stainless steel case, a black leather strap with black stitching, and a couple of orange accent stitches near the lugs. The dial is black underlying a silver mesh or honeycomb design. The dial is a subtle feature as it can appear silver or black depending on the light and angle of the watch to the future. This Drive also has a date window that shows 5 dates with today’s date being outlined. Hours are marked by white batons around the perimeter of the dial and are further highlighted by an orange dot just inboard of the batons. At 12 o’clock, Citizen Eco-Drive is spelled out. At 6 o’clock, the water resistance is noted. The style of this watch is confidently masculine. The Drive CTO 2.0 has a refined muscular look without a bulky case or unnecessary gadgetry. There is nothing that screams “Solar” when it comes to this watch.
Movement. The Eco-Drive has a solar powered Japanese quartz movement. When you first get it, you need to charge it up. However, ambient lighting seems to be enough to keep it going. Citizen basically recommends that you expose the Eco-Drive watch to sunlight or strong lamp light for one day per month. Unlike less expensive solar watches, the solar panel is built directly into the dial surface and you cannot explicitly see a traditional “solar cell.”
Watch Size. The size of this watch is an understated 41 millimeters. It is 11 millimeters thick and has a strap that tapers from 24 millimeters at the lugs down to 19 millimeters at the buckle. The watch is perfectly proportioned to wear under a long-sleeved shirt cuff.
Watch Construction. This watch has an ion-coated black stainless steel metal case and shiny stainless steel back. The Drive is built with 100 meters (330 feet) of water resistance. The strap is genuine leather with a “soft touch” finish. The leather is soft inside and out. It is truly a very comfortable watch to wear.
Price. This watch retails for $250 but smart shoppers can use sales to knock the price down considerably. However, Citizen is not one of those brands that claims a high retail price but is routinely 80% off.
Overall. In a world where tech gadgets grab headlines every day, the Citizen Eco-Drive line of watches delivers on the promise of solar technology in a low-key manner. There is no Richard Branson promising a space voyage. There is no Elon Musk crusading for an electric car in every garage. There is no goofy product shape to let the world know that that the wearer is ecologically correct. Instead, there are Citizen timepieces that simply work well, wear well, and happen to be solar powered. This Drive by Citizen watch is a very cool addition to any collection.