Five years ago, if someone were to ask me for advice on an affordable, reliable, all-purpose watch with some enthusiast/collector credibility, I’d definitely have Seiko on the tip of my tongue, and probably Timex and G-Shock as well. A brand that I might not have been as quick to mention would be Citizen, which is perhaps a bit ironic for me personally, because a Citizen is literally the first watch I can remember picking out for myself, years and years before this would become a hobby, let alone a profession. But something is happening at Citizen that is truly compelling. They’ve always had an expansive catalog, but recently they’ve been able to zero in on the stuff that really makes them special. Affordable, tactical divers are one avenue where they’ve had some success, and I’d argue they currently have a slight edge on Seiko in that department, overall. And with the recent release of the NJ015 “Tsuyosa” collection (the word means “strength” in Japanese) Citizen is making a play at the competitive “sporty, everyday casual” segment of the market with a colorful integrated bracelet option. Coming in at less than $500, these seem destined to appear on “recommended” lists.
What we have here are straightforward, time and date automatic watches in stainless steel cases with integrated bracelets. The design is vaguely vintage inspired, but this type of watch is so common right now, it feels completely contemporary. The obvious point of comparison is Tissot’s expansive line of PRX watches, which these certainly have a passing resemblance to. The Citizen watches undercut the comparable automatic versions of the PRX slightly ($450 vs. $650) and also have what looks to be a slightly curvier, less structured case shape. They’re 40mm in diameter and 11.7mm tall, which should make for a comfortable but visually imposing look on the wrist (integrated bracelet watches always wear a little bigger than the dimensions would indicate). The finishing consists of a mix of brushed and polished surfaces, and there are little idiosyncrasies that set these watches apart just a bit. The crown at 4:00 that is nearly flush with the case, for one, and also the cyclops date magnifier at 3:00, which is unexpected and kind of charming.
There are a total of five variants of the Tsuyosa at launch. We get fairly standard black and blue dialed versions, but those are complemented by yellow, green, and turquoise variants. These really lean into the push toward color and variety that we’ve seen from a lot of brands recently, and it’s nice to see another large brand offer far more than the same set of standard, neutral colors in an affordable watch collection.
The Tsuyosa watches are powered by an automatic Cal. 8210 movement, which has about 40 hours of power reserve. The rest of the specs are (mostly) in line with what you’d expect from an everyday, casual, sports watch. You’ll find lume on the hands and hour markers as well as a sapphire crystal. What might be a small point of contention for some would be the water resistance rating, which is 50 meters. In practice, that’s almost certainly enough for just about everyone who would consider wearing these, but could be a deal breaker for collectors who tend to get their watches a little more wet than normal, or just like having the extra security of 100 meters.
The Tsuyosa will be available later this month from Citizen. More information here.