I’ve already mentioned what I think is the best watch ever. Some of you, however, probably care less about the timeless elegance of an automatic movement and more about the accuracy and functionality of an everyday timepiece.
Nothing wrong with that! If that’s you, here is perhaps the last watch you’ll ever need – the Citizen BL5250-02L Titanium Eco-Drive Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Watch.
Super long name, but it is practically bulletproof, never needs batteries, and has a crazy accurate quartz movement. And once you set the calendar, it will never need to be adjusted again. Not even for leap years. WHAT?!
Citizen is a Japanese brand, similar to Seiko in that it manufactures instruments with a quality and precision that rivals its Swiss counterparts, but without as much pretension or prestige (or the price tag). Psh. When it comes to reliability, sorry Switzerland, I’m putting my money on a Japanese watch. In the zombie apocalypse, I’ll be leaving my Swiss watches on the dresser while I strap a Citizen Eco-Drive to my wrist and I head out the door.
The Eco-Drive is a proprietary light-powered cell manufactured by Citizen. It is world-famous and works better than any other watchmaker’s solar-powered technology, including Seiko’s. It uses any light source (including indoor light – not just the sun) to charge its lithium cell. Rather than bore you with all the technical tomfoolery that goes into such a device, I’ll just tell you that just a couple of hours in the sun can power the watch for months, so even sporadic usage will keep the watch running indefinitely. And the cell itself is designed to last a lifetime of charging cycles. This makes it much more maintenance-free than true automatic watches, which are entirely mechanical and need to be wound or moved around at least every couple of days to keep the movement running.
Amazingly, Citizen is able to make these cells invisible from the watch exterior, so the dial can be colored, textured, or otherwise designed without looking like a conventional solar panel!
The case is made of titanium, making it super strong yet lightweight. Don’t you want to wear a titanium watch?? Of course you do. The face is mineral crystal: standard for moderately priced Japanese watches, it’s not as scratch resistant as sapphire, but is still hard enough for all but the most punishing situations, like, oh, hammer juggling or some such.
The best part about this watch is that it has a perpetual calendar. That means that it adjusts itself automatically for different month lengths, including February, and INCLUDING LEAP YEARS. Don’t ask me how. I think technically it doesn’t adjust for skipped leap centuries, so in theory you will have to set it back one day on March 1, 2100, eighty-five years from now. Big whoop.
The chronograph has a tachymeter, a stopwatch function, alarm, calendar, unidirectional bezel… it is seriously James Bond level shiz. The dials are also multifunctional, serving different purposes depending on which function is being used. Then when you switch back to regular watch mode… the hands move by themselves back to their correct positions. HWAET!!
The strap is a fairly standard croc-embossed leather. The dial here looks almost black but is actually a dark carbon color, with a subtle checked texture that is only noticeable when the light hits it a certain way. Cool!
Altogether, the watch looks technologically sophisticated, yet tasteful. Kind of like me!
All in all, this is a highly functional and very respectable timepiece from a totally legit watchmaker. Plus you’ll have tons of fun explaining to all your friends how cool you are now that you’ll never need to replace the batteries, adjust the calendar, or change your underwear. Just kidding about that last one.
The great thing about Citizen watches is that you get a ton of value for your dollar. Almost all of their pieces are extremely affordable, especially considering you can wear the watch for the rest of your life with minimal maintenance. I love the ticking physicality of traditional automatic watches, but for for strict efficiency, it is hard to beat a Citizen Eco-Drive.