Make / Model: Citizen Eco-Drive Titanium ‘Ray Mears’
It has been said that any watch over a certain price is expensive jewelry. Lets say that price is $150 to $200 for a basic, rock solid, Seiko or Citizen. Both more accurate than most expensive watches, and both know to give years without needing servicing.
So what about a ‘survival’ grade version of these watches? What if there was a version that took the watch even farther from jewelry, the other direction, towards that of an actual tool.
The ‘Ray Mears’ Citizen is a watch that attempts to do this. Nicknamed after a british TV personality who is something of a survivalist/woodsman, and happens to wear the watch, the perception of this watch among aficionados is that this is a tool.
So this is a rather interesting watch. First, it’s the only Citizen watch I’ve ever seen that has a solid back, IE, disassembly has to occur from the front. Second, it’s a military spec watch, ANTI-MAGNETIC. Third, it’s the least-branded citizen watch, there isn’t even a model name anywhere on the watch, which is in stark contrast to the overbranding of most Citizen watches. And Fourth, continuing this aesthetic, the face is very simple. No crazy dials, no chronometer, just a simple, simple time-telling watch, with a date.
So it’s watch face, big numbers, date. Big ass adjustment crown.
And it’s eco-drive, so no batteries.
In theory, this should be the perfect watch for me. No frills, does what it needs to do. Lightweight. Amazing build quality… but, I don’t like the date function. I don’t like date functions in general. Also, this eco-drive thing.
In the course of owning this watch, it would go into it’s ‘low power’ mode, a few times. IE, it would start displaying time in an odd way in order to clue me into the fact that it needed more sunlight. Ok.
When you see the watch do this for the first time, it’s alerting, as you think it’s broken, then you discover, this is the watch telling you it needs light. For a pure function watch, a watch that should be like a piece of survival gear, (like how Ray Mears, the namesake of this nickname of this watch, uses it), requiring light means that this isn’t a stow and go piece, but something that needs to be used daily. Or at least as much as the power reserve of the eco-drive needs. However, it’s not clear how much power the eco-drive actually needs, and the only indication that it’s low, is when it’s really low, and starts telling you it via it’s crazy time keeping.
In googling the whole ‘power display’ function of eco-drive, I happened upon a lot of stories about eco-drive, and how the system seems to need servicing. Keeping in mind that the most vocal are always those with the issues, I tried to calm any thoughts that this may be a problematic system. But it is a machine, and it seems, at some point, an eco-drive servicing will occur.
When you look at it like that, the eco-drive actually seems to make this less of a tool, and brings it back more into the expensive jewelry department.
Overall, I did like the watch, but I ended up deciding it wasn’t for me. I had purchased this one for around $180 USD. Since then, the prices on these things have tripled.