Citizen and Nissan Launch a Tech Forward Collaboration Based on the Z

Watches with ties to the automotive world are nothing new. In fact, many would say that watches inspired by cars are one of the most overdone tropes in contemporary watchmaking. They are seemingly everywhere, and produced in a range of styles that run the gamut from “extremely on the nose” to “wait, what’s a car?” A new watch from Citizen in two variants sits somewhere in the middle of this very wide spectrum, with subtle details that pull from the car the watches are inspired by, and very obvious branding hidden away in spots that are likely only to be seen by the owner. It’s perhaps a happy middle ground that can be enjoyed both by serious car enthusiasts who dabble in watches, and watch nerds who are after a tech forward timepiece with a very specific use case in colorways that are objectively interesting.


The new watches in question are the first ever collaboration between Citizen and Nissan, and take the Nissan Z (the Nissan Fairlady in Japan) as a starting point. The Z is a sleek and modern sports car, and Citizen claims to be inspired by the Z’s advanced sports car tech in building out this collaborative watch. More on that in a minute, but let’s tackle the design links to the Z first. Most notably, each watch uses an accent color that is matched precisely to a Nissan Z. The reference AT8185-89E features accents in “Ikazuchi Yellow,” while the reference AT8185-97E uses Nissan’s “Seiran Blue.” The dial on the AT8185-89E features a pattern that pulls from the Nissan Z’s seats, while the AT8185-97E’s dial has a matte finish that Citizen says is meant to evoke the texture of fresh asphalt. Credit to Citizen here for mixing it up with dial patterns and textures – it would have been easy to phone this in and use the same design for each.

As a watch enthusiast who likes cars but is certainly not the type to jump into an automotive themed watch headfirst, it’s the technical side of things, and how the watch works as a watch, that holds the most interest for me. Citizen is a brand that is often on the forefront of new time telling technology, and these watches don’t disappoint in that regard. Each is equipped with Citizen’s Cal. H804 movement, an Eco-Drive caliber that’s accurate to within 15 seconds per month. The neat trick with this movement is that it uses what Citizen calls “Eco-Drive Radio Controlled” functionality, which enables the watch to self-adjust automatically when traveling across time zones. World time functionality can be adjusted solely via the crown, and since the watch is solar powered, it never needs a battery. This is a great candidate for a set it and forget it grab-and-go option if the style is appealing and you can handle the size (it’s 42mm in diameter, but just 10.8mm thick in Citizen’s lightweight Super Titanium), and don’t mind some Nissan branding. 

Ah yes, the branding. Always the greatest point of contention on a watch like this. The most obvious is a big Nissan logo on the caseback. I think that’s pretty forgivable, considering it’s the caseback, and will be invisible to just about everyone most of the time. More controversial, perhaps, is the “Fairlady Z” wordmark on the dial right below “Citizen” at 3:00. Being that the Fairlady is the Japanese designation for this car, it’s a bit inside baseball (for Americans, at least), but it’s still the name of a car right on the dial, so it’s something an owner really has to live with, and might ultimately relegate this one to a specific crowd of Nissan enthusiasts (of which there are many). 

As one would expect, these new watches are limited editions, with 1,700 being made. They’ll be available in March at a retail price of $2,495. Citizen

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.