Seiko is usually a champion of accessible, sporty automatic watches from a major brand with its Seiko 5 collection. The SRPG27 Field Watch is a perfect example. Civic is best known for its Eco-Drive quartz watches, which are basically timeless, but as the founder of Miyota, the Japanese juggernaut knows a thing or two about affordable automatic movements. The sub-$200 in-house automatic NH8350-83L made a strong impression on us recently. Integrated steel sports watches are popular, to say the least, and Citizen has launched the Tsuyosa automatic as an accessible option in its growing mechanical portfolio. And it’s surprisingly affordable for what you’re getting.
In the late 1950s, Citizen’s new Miyota factory began producing movements in Miyota, Japan (hence the name). A few decades later, they started selling movements to other watch brands and they are absolutely ubiquitous today. The burgeoning microbrand trend relies heavily on Miota for accessible, reliable calibers, not to mention a host of established brands. After all, MB&F founder Max Busser used the Miota 821A automatic in the MAD Edition 1 and the subsequent MAD 1 RED. By the mid-1980s, Miyota was the industry’s top movement manufacturer and had the highest production of some movements (in billions).
It’s not just Miota that drives the movement arm, as it owns a number of brands including Citizen Frédéric Constant, Alpina, Arnold & Son, Bulova and luxury Swiss movement maker La Joux-Perret. The latter is important as Citizen recently collaborated with them to develop the high-end Caliber 0200. The movement is designed and assembled in Japan and has chronometer level accuracy (-3/+5 seconds per day) and a 17-day test period with an included certificate of aggression. “The Citizen” was the first piece to use Caliber 0200 and was a luxury integrated sports watch with a Grand Seiko-like price (around USD 6,000). This is a true statement from a brand known as the darling of department stores and mall kiosks worldwide. Despite Miota setting many industry firsts, such as the world’s most accurate movement with the Eco-Drive Caliber 0100 (+/- 1 second per year), the Citizen is still generally considered an inexpensive collection of quartz watches. While Quartz and Eco-Drive are obviously the bread and butter, the brand is looking to shift that perception up a notch.
“Citizen” really set the stage for things to come. The new Series 8 models continue with high-end integrated sports watches priced at USD 2,000 and below, reviving the collection first launched a dozen years ago. The Tsuyosa automatic now joins the show at a very accessible price point but doesn’t sacrifice build quality or design. Others have an edge in refinement and precise movements, but Citizen’s new integrated sports watch really punches above its weight class.
The stainless steel case measures 40mm in diameter and 11.7mm in height, ideal proportions for a modern sports watch. But it is a bit heavy on the wrist. Not too much, but I was surprised when I first took it. Let’s just make a substantial call. The front surface is brushed with polished bevels, the sides and bezel are polished. As with the Seiko 5 models, the crown is positioned at 4 o’clock and is almost flush with the case. There’s a (little) line underneath to drag it to set the date and time, but that’s a bit of a form over function. Manually deflating is almost impossible, as there is nothing to hold and no fiddle to pull out. It looks slick, but once things are set, you won’t have to mess with it very often. The case has a sharp slope on either side for an integrated three-link bracelet with polished center links and brushed outer links. It is well executed and wraps comfortably around the wrist, closed by a deployant clasp with micro-adjustments. A sapphire crystal with date magnifier protects the dial, while a mineral glass case back displays the in-house automatic. Overall, the aesthetic has a Rolex Oyster vibe, but much of that can be attributed to the Cyclops lens. Water resistance is 50 meters.
Clean and legible dial
The dial comes in four colors – black, blue, green and yellow – and all except yellow have a sunburst-brushed finish. I have the black dial in my hand, the most formal of the group. It has natulite inserts and double index and oversized applied indicators at 12 and 6 o’clock. Natulite is Citizen’s proprietary loom, similar to Super-LumiNova or Seiko’s LumiBrite. The silver hour and minute hands have natulite inserts and the silver hands/indexes contrast well against the black dial. Legibility is excellent, almost in dive watch territory. The 3 o’clock date window is large and easy to read, while the dial text is tastefully limited to CITIZEN and AUTOMATIC. It is very minimal and stylish and again very similar to the Rolex Datejust. I wouldn’t call it a clone.
Powering the Citizen Tsuyosa is the Caliber 8210, which is basically the Citizen version of the Miyota 8218 and the like. The difference is that only Citizen watches use the caliber 8210, while other brands can buy Miota replicas. It’s an entry-level movement, but also a reliable workhorse that’s trouble-free with seasonal maintenance. It has 21 jewels and beats at 21,600vph (3Hz) with a 40-hour power reserve. As viewed back through the exhibition case, it has a gold-colored finish that is unexpectedly unadorned. It’s always cool to see movement in action, and gold gives it some visual punch. For the price, no complaints.
Citizen sells for less than Tsuyosa USD 300, depends on where you get it. That’s an excellent price for a well-executed integrated sports watch that’s completely at home. It has an integrated design, an overall finish, and a cyclops lens on the crystal that’s a bit grander than comparable Seiko 5 models (although it’s an “interpretation” of a certain Swiss brand). It’s a bit heavy, but I got used to it quickly and usually prefer some substance over my steel watches. The crown is also quirky but pretty enough that I can forgive it. If it was over USD 1,000, I’d probably nitpick a bit more, but this is just an incredible bargain. It’s one of those watches that can really be dressed up or down, but the Rolex Oyster is at its best when dressed up. I hate to keep making that comparison, but it gives off that vibe in a very good way. I usually go with a Seiko for this type of piece, but the Citizen now has my eye.
As for availability, it is unclear. I’ve only found it in Singapore and Japan, so if you want one you may need a bit of research and international shipping. After wearing it for two weeks, it was definitely worth the hassle. There are four dial colors to choose from, but black is my personal favorite.
For more information, please visit Citizens World Website.