Seiko is generally the champion of accessible, sporty automatic watches from a major brand with its Seiko 5 collection. The SRPG27 field watch is a perfect example. Citizen is better known for Eco-Drive quartz watches that basically last forever, 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 recently left a solid impression on us. Integrated steel sports watches are popular, to say the least, so Citizen launched the Tsuyosa Automatic as an accessible option in its growing mechanical portfolio. And it’s shockingly 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 couple of decades later, they started selling movements to other watch brands and they’re absolutely ubiquitous today. The booming microbrand trend relies heavily on Miyota for accessible, reliable calibres, not to mention a host of established brands as well. After all, MB&F’s founder Max Büsser used a Miyota 821A automatic in the M.A.D. EDITION 1 and subsequent M.A.D. 1 RED. By the mid-1980s, Miyota was the industry’s top movement manufacturer and has the highest production ever of some movements (in the billions).
It’s not just Miyota driving the movement arm as Citizen owns several brands including Frédérique Constant, Alpina, Arnold & Son, Bulova and luxury Swiss movement manufacturer, La Joux-Perret. The latter is significant as Citizen recently collaborated with them to develop the high-end Calibre 0200. The movement was designed and assembled in Japan, and has a chronometer level of accuracy (-3/+5 seconds per day) and an aggressive 17-day testing period with included certificate. “The Citizen” was the first piece to use the Calibre 0200 and is a luxury integrated sports watch with a Grand Seiko-like price (approx. USD 6,000). That’s a real statement from a brand best known as the darling of department stores and mall kiosks worldwide. Despite establishing Miyota and a lot of industry firsts, such as the most accurate movement in the world with the Eco-Drive Caliber 0100 (+/- 1 second per year), Citizen is still generally regarded as an inexpensive collection of quartz watches. The brand is looking to change that perception to a degree, even if quartz and Eco-Drive are clearly its bread and butter.
“The Citizen” really set the stage for things to come. The new Series 8 models continued with high-end integrated sports watches for USD 2,000 and below, reinvigorating a collection first launched over a dozen years ago. The Tsuyosa Automatic now joins the show with a very accessible price but doesn’t sacrifice build quality or design. The others have an edge in refinement and certainly with movements, but Citizen’s new integrated sports watch truly punches above its weight class.
The stainless steel case is 40mm in diameter and 11.7mm in height, which are ideal proportions for a modern sports watch. It is, however, somewhat weighty on the wrist. Not overly so, but I was surprised when I first picked it up. Let’s just call it substantial. The front surface is brushed with polished bevels, while the sides and bezel are polished. Similar to Seiko 5 models, the crown is positioned at 4 o’clock and pushes almost flush with the case. There’s a (slight) notch underneath to pull it to set the date and time, but it’s a bit of form over function. It’s nigh impossible to manually wind as there’s nothing to grip and fiddly to pull out. It does look slick, though, and once things are set, you won’t have to mess with it often. The case has a sharp slope on either side for the integrated three-link bracelet with polished centre links and brushed outer links. It’s well executed and wraps comfortably around the wrist, closing via a deployant clasp with micro-adjustments. A sapphire crystal with a 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 a lot of that can be attributed to the cyclops lens. Water resistance is 50 meters.
CLEAN AND LEGIBLE DIAL
The dial comes in four colours, black, blue, green and yellow, and all have a sunray-brushed finish except for the yellow. I have the black dial on hand, which is the most formal of the group. It has oversized applied indices with Natulite inserts and a double index and 12 and 6 o’clock. Natulite is Citizen’s proprietary lume, similar to Super-LumiNova or Seiko’s LumiBrite. The silver hour and minute hands have Natulite inserts as well, and the silver hands/indices contrast well against the black dial. Legibility is excellent, almost in dive watch territory. The date window at 3 o’clock is magnified and easy to read, while dial text is tastefully limited to CITIZEN and AUTOMATIC. It’s all very minimal and stylish, and again a bit similar to a Rolex Datejust. I wouldn’t call it a clone, though.
Powering the Citizen Tsuyosa is the Calibre 8210, which is basically Citizen’s version of the Miyota 8218 and the like. The difference is that only Citizen watches use the Caliber 8210, while other brands can purchase Miyota counterparts. It’s an entry-level movement, but also a reliable workhorse that’ll be trouble-free with periodic maintenance. It has 21 jewels and beats at 21,600vph (3Hz) with a 40-hour power reserve. As seen through the exhibition case back, it has a gold-coloured finish that’s expectedly undecorated. It’s always cool to see a movement in action and the gold does give it some visual punch. For the price, there are no complaints.
The Citizen Tsuyosa sells for less than USD 300, depending on where you get it. That’s a phenomenal price for such a well-executed integrated sports watch that’s entirely in-house. It has a bit more grandeur than comparable Seiko 5 models with the integrated design, overall finish and cyclops lens on the crystal (even if it’s an “interpretation” of a certain Swiss brand). It’s a bit on the heavy side, but I got used to it quickly and generally prefer some substance to my steel watches. The crown is also fiddly but looks good enough that I can forgive it. If it was over USD 1,000, I could probably nitpick some more, but it’s just an incredible bargain. It’s one of those watches that can really dress up or down but excels at dressing up in a Rolex Oyster kind of way. I hate to keep making that comparison, but it gives off that vibe in a very good way. I usually go with Seiko for this kind of piece, but Citizen now has my attention.
As for availability, this one is proving elusive. I’ve only found it in Singapore and Japan, so a little research and international shipping are likely required if you want one. After wearing it for a couple of weeks, it’s definitely a worthwhile hassle. There are again four dial colours to choose from, but black is my personal favourite.
For more information, please visit Citizen’s global website.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.