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Citizen Eco Drive Watches Are Not Worth The Money

Updated on January 22, 2016

I have worked in the watch industry for several years now and have never seen so much technological and research waste as the Citizen Eco-Drive watches. They advertise on posters, tv, magazines and wherever else available that these watches never need a battery. Oh, but they do. They're just not called a battery, they call it "capacitors". These capacitors have the ability to recharge, not unlike your car battery.

When you purchase one of these $300 or so watches at J.C. Pennies, the minimum wage sales person recites almost verbatim what she read on its brochure. "These watches never need a battery!" and "These watches are powered by light!"

I get about three customers a week that come in with Eco-Drive watches where the "battery" has run out. Just like your car battery runs out every five years (even though your car charges it) the Eco-Drive watch capacitor runs out every five years. But this capacitor cost me $20-$25 to purchase wholesale, I in turn charge my customers about $75 to replace it. (I know, the mark up is ridiculous, but I only get three a week, so I'm not getting rich anytime soon) If you ask Citizen to replace it, it can cost you up to $150 and take two weeks!

Most regular watch batteries I get cost me a few bucks and I charge $10. Those watch batteries would last an average five years also. So why, besides aesthetics, would any purchase an Eco-Drive vs. a regular watch if everything else is the same? I'm not talking about Tags and Movados, those are made for the lux market.  It seems simply non-sense and doesn't benefit the consumer at all.


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    • profile image

      Himanshu Sheth 

      22 months ago

      I have purchased only Ecodrives or Automatics since 2002.

      I have a total of 7 Ecodrives between me, my wife and daughter.

      As a rule, all my watches with the box are placed on the window in direct sunlight, for 3 hours every month.

      All my watches run well. Even the minute repeater with the 3V capacitor charges up in 3 hours.

      Just replaced my capacitor on my first watch purchased in 2002. (14 years later)

      All in all reliable and good value.

      The wifey's collection of standard battery quartz watches invariable are having a dead battery when she wants to wear it out for a party. Not so with Ecodrives.

    • additc profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago

      I don't know much about battery composition and how they work.

      This was written only by observation.

      Customers come in for capacitors all the time, and I replace it for said amount.

      No Citizen does not replace it for free, I've called them to ask. They won't even sell you a capacitor, because they don't want you opening their watches.

      Most comments are about their personal watches lasting 10 years or more.

      I don't doubt that at all. I've seen regular quartz watches last that long also. So what?

      Again the question remains, what real benefit does eco-drive (solar) have if it seems to last just as long as a regular battery?

    • profile image

      Good Ol Dave 

      4 years ago

      First off, I've had many watches throughout my fifty years and I have never, not even once, had a watch that had a battery that lasted five years. At best, it was a year to a year and a half so I have no idea what the author is talking about. Second, although capacitors do degrade just like batteries do, the difference is that they still last longer because the capacitors are always charging. After X number of years of capacitor degradation the watch may only have enough power for ten hours or so vs the 300 days a fresh capacitor may hold, but as long as there's sunlight...and unless you live in the arctic, that's pretty much a given... the watch is still essentially "plugged in to the outlet" and the degradation is completely invisible to the watch owner. Eco-Drive watches are specifically marketed as using light as the primary energy source for the watch, not the capacitor, and Citizen rates the capacitor itself to have a life span of 40 years. After reading the comments here I can believe it. The author leaves out a lot of details about his customers who need service so I suspect there's more to the story here than just bad capacitors.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I bought a Citizen because I got tired of replacing batteries every year or less. 5 years? Where do you get your batteries that last 5 years? If that were the case, I wouldn't have bothered with an ecowatch. And mine cost $120 which is a lot more than the $15 ones I used to buy but this Citizen has proven worth it's price.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      That's citizen has been running for 9 years going on ten and hasn't skipped a beat

    • profile image

      Michael the jeweler 

      4 years ago

      I just installed a capacitor in a ladies citizen watch and came on to see how much they cost now wholesale to know what to charge the lady. Her husband had taken the capacitor out not knowing it was not a battery and had replaced the capacitor with a 337 silver oxide battery. I beg to differ with this guy in what he claims. Most batteries for watches cost between thirty cents and one dollar. Some are over a dollar, but in the end, it is not always the cost of the battery, it is the cost of service and experience and giving a guarantee. For the record too, most regular batteries last right at one year and not five. And all batteries are virtually the same regarding brands and there is no such thing as a five year battery. we charge $5.00 for most batteries and $7.00 for most lithium batteries and have a coupon that offers $2.00 off and no limit. We don't get rich, but give good service and that is that.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      This guy clearly knows nothing about watches. Kinetic watches had the capacitor problems and that was changed years ago. As you can see from the comments of others citizen watches are worth every dollar. As for the li-ion battery citizen replace them for free if you encounter any problems with them. You only pay postage and resealing the watch to make it water tight. So if you are charging people they are clearly getting ripped off.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      My Eco Drive Skyhawk is 11 years old and spent 2 of those years in a dark drawer with the battery completely depleted. After a few days of charging it was back to running like a champ and has been for 4 years. The indicator shows a full charge. 5 years? lololololol

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I bought a used Citizen Eco Drive chronograph on eBay in September 2001. After more than 12 years it still runs perfectly, never needs winding, and keeps more accurate time than any automatic Rolex. The idea that the capacitors have to be replaced every five years is nonsense.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I've owned my Citizen eco drive for 10 years...never had to replace anything; it's ticking on my wrist as I type. Perhaps your customers kept their watches in the dark.

    • profile image

      J. Chance 

      7 years ago

      My Eco drive capacitor has lasted over 15 years, that is s good deal in my book and u only paid $120 for my Eco.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your words about the Eco Drive watches. I was about to buy one, but now I know the truth about these now. Thanks!


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