Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Review of Citizen Drive CA0421-04E

The Drive Collection was introduced by Citizen in the end of 2012. Characterized as a "uniquely designed collection for the next generation of Citizen Eco-Drive consumers", the Drive Collection represents sharp looking watches at an affordable entry level price.



The CA0421-04E is from the AR 2.0 line. I don't know what the AR 2.0 means or if it matters what it means. Of the four lines in the Drive Collection the AR 2.0 line has the most chroma finishing on the case which is why I selected it.


Put the CA0421-04E in hand and you can't help to notice the bright blue chroma finishing on the case. Let's just say it is this feature which defines the watch and as far as I'm concerned defines the entire collection. Let me also just say this that this chroma finishing is really, really cool. It accents the case perfectly. Just enough to be noticed, but not so much that it is overwhelming and kitschy. In my example of models, the blue is a perfect blue with a metallic sheen. Really cool.

I've been trying to figure our how Citizen makes this case. I think its actually done in two parts. The chroma finishing seems like an enamel which I would expect is baked on. Close inspection of the case suggests it is actually two parts with the choma finished part fitting inside the remainder of the stainless steel portion of the case.





The rest of the case is well done as well. Completely polished and with a simple shape. The case is nothing extra-ordinary, but didn't I just mention this watch is all about the chroma finishing. The pushers are basic, but well done. The crown is signed with a D which is a nice surprise. There is also a color accent on the crown to match the color finish on the case. The case back is a screw down with the regular Citizen laser etching.





The dial is also well done. Multi dimensional with classic index markers. Little surprise here to find the even numbered markers to be filled with an accent color matching the chroma finishing of the case. Unfortunately it means these markers are not lumed, but it really makes the color pop. The lack of lume on these markers doesn't really matter because the lume on the rest of the markers and hands simply sucks.

The subdials were well finished. Some dimensional finishing on the surface of the subdials adequately hides the solar cells underneath. In my opinion, Citizen has improved the disguising the solar cells and this particular model is further proof of this. The six o’clock subdial records timekeeping seconds, the twelve o’clock subdial records chronograph seconds and the nine o’clock subdial is simply an AM/PM indicator.




If there’s one major miss with this watch it is the hands. Although smaller, more subdued hands are a refreshing change of pace, the use of black trimmed hands against a black dial makes them obviously difficult to read. The blue accent and the lume filled portion does help and I have to admit that after a few days I did get better at picking the hands out. Like the index markers, the glowing function of the lume is useless.

The strap feels like a silicone composite. Very flexible and very comfortable. Very similar if not identical in composition to that used on the diver BN0085. It doesn't seem as well reinforced, however. While the strap on the BN0085 used tubes to reinforce the spring bars, there is no reinforcement on the Drive. Hopefully this strap will hold up with age. I’m sure it isn't very expensive to replace, but a busted strap is inconvenient. The buckle is very nice...fully brushed and a nice weight. Two keepers keep the strap contained.





The movement used is the B612. Obviously a solar charged Eco-Drive movement. This particular caliber has been widely used by Citizen in many models. It is a very simple chronograph with a 60 minute total measure and resolution to ⅕ of a second. The chronograph seconds hand on the main stem on the dial indeed sweeps at five beats per second during use of the chronograph. To my surprise, the pusher to start the chronograph has a subtle mechanical feel to it. Not nearly as nice as that of my Signature Chronograph, but still a surprise on a $200 watch. On the other hand, pushing the same pusher to stop the chronograph is completely devoid of any tactile feel. Resetting the chronograph also has a very minor feel to it. Resetting the chronograph shows the minute hand to snap back to zero position while the seconds hand sweeps completely around the dial. This caliber does allow the user to manually adjust the reset position of the chronograph minute and seconds hand in the event they become misaligned.

All in all I have to say that the Citizen Drive CA0421-04E accomplishes to deliver a nicely finished and uniquely designed watch at an affordable price. Whether or not it can compete with the iPhone as a timekeeping device remains to be seen.

Dimensions
Crystal Diameter -- 34mm
Bezel Diameter -- 40mm
Case Diameter -- 43mm
Case Diameter including Crown -- 48mm
Lug Width -- 23mm
Lug to Lug -- 48mm
Thickness -- 12mm




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