The Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive BM8180-03E is a mid-range military-style watch with an eye-catching design. With a durable stainless steel case and a flexible woven strap, the Eco-Drive, also known as the Chandler, is a workhorse with iron-clad reliability. This mid-range timepiece keeps you in-sync with life’s most minute rhythms. Read along to learn more about what makes this watch tick.
History of the Citizen
Citizen is a Japanese electronics company that is well-known for its watches. The company, which is headquartered in Tokyo, was founded in 1918. It was originally called the Shokosha Watch Research Institute. Interestingly enough, the company did not take its current name until 1930, when a group of Japanese and Swiss investors took the reigns. In the company’s first years, its clock technology was imported directly from Switzerland.
Citizen is well-known as the watch company, as they are responsible for releasing the first multi-band automatic timekeeper. These watches offered near-Atomic timekeeping. They also released unique radio-controlled watches and clocks.
World-Famous Sports Watch Company
Citizen’s accuracy landed them a spot as the official timekeeper for the U.S., opened from 1993 until 2017. What’s more, they have been used in some of the World Figure Skating Championships. Not to mention, they are the official timekeeper of the Manchester United F.C. and the Toronto Maple Leaves.
Famous people to sport Citizen watches include Tag Heuer, Paula Creamer, Eli Manning, and Victoria Azarenka. With so many prominent athletes wearing these watches, it leads us to believe that they truly are as accurate as some would say.
Citizen’s most interesting watch line may be the Eco-Drive, first introduced in 1995. Eco-Drive watches feature built-in solar panels that generate constant power to their electric movements. According to the company, the Eco-Drive’s use of renewable energy has eliminated the use of millions of disposable batteries.
The first Eco-Drive used an Eco-Drive caliber 7878 watch movement powered by solar cells that were fixed underneath the dial. This design helped keep the watch’s face clutter-free. Early eco-drives also featured lithium-ion batteries that stored enough power to generate 180 days of time without having to recharge.
Citizen continued to use the Eco-Drive to push technological boundaries, soon releasing a model that utilized GPS satellite signals to generate time. Today, the company’s main focus is the Eco-Drive watch line.
Design, Materials, Movement of BM8180-03E
The Eco-Drive BM8180-03E is a stunning midrange watch with a rugged outdoor-approved design. While many people choose this Eco-Drive for its tactical look, its main appeal is its solar-powered technology. The BM8180-03E’s integrated solar panels are not noticeable to the naked eye, but it’s easy to remember that they’re there. After all, you never have to replace the battery. Read along to learn more about each element of the BM8180-03E and see if it`s the right watch for you.
The inner workings and renewable energy source of the BM8180-03E are all nestled into a sleek brushed stainless steel case. With a fixed back, the BM8180-03E does not offer any unique exhibition windows. Still, at 37 inches in diameter and 9 millimeters thick, this lightweight, moderately-sized watch case offers easy time readings in nearly any level of light. The case is round, which is the standard shape of most analog watches. What’s more, it features two tapered stainless steel lugs that effortlessly connect to the hunter green canvas band.
The back of the case features a detailed edge engraving with quite a bit of manufacturing details. At the top, Citizen is written in all capital letters. This is followed by the watch’s water resistance depth ranking, manufacturing codes, the country of origin (Japan), and a serial number. On the lefthand side, there are a series of manufacturing numbers followed by the initials for stainless steel (SS).
Unlike most field watches, the Eco-Drive BM8180-03E has a solid stainless steel bezel. This design element helps to simplify and unclutter the watch’s face. It also makes this otherwise rugged timekeeper suitable to wear in a professional environment.
The dial window is made of mineral. The mineral crystal is durable and scratch-resistant. It offers a clear view of the watch face. Anyone who’s ever had a dinged-up watch face will probably appreciate its extreme resilience.
The Eco-Drive BM8180-03E’s dial features a black faceplate with solar panels hidden underneath. The Citizen logo is printed in the center of the top half. The Eco-Drive logo is printed just below that. “WR 100” is written in the middle of the bottom half of the face. It stands for the maximum depth (100 meters) at which the watch can resist water.
The watch also features bold white Arabic numbers for all of the hour positions except 12 0-clock. At the 12-o’clock mark there is a large downward-facing white triangle. There are triangle markers outside the Arabic numbers and stick markers for the minute marks. There is also a small outer dial with stick-shaped second markers. What’s more, Arabic numbers are used to mark each 5-second interval, while stick markers are used to indicate the seconds between them.
Days and Months
There is also a small day of the week and date window located to the left of the 3-o’clock position. This window features a solid white background with two rotating panels and a thin white border with rounded edges. The day of the week is displayed in a black all-cap three-letter abbreviation. This is followed by the day of the month, which is written in matching Arabic numbers.
The face features a high-contrast look that is both easy-to-read and attractive. In fact, the Eco-Drive BM8180-03E is both modern and classic at the same time. With that said, it mostly appeals to men looking for a field watch with basic time and data-telling capabilities.
The layout of the Eco-Drive makes it easy to quickly check the time or date. It also is designed to support one-minute countdowns. In fact, the fire-engine red minute hand almost beckons to the wearer. While it does have any over-the-top dials or countdowns, it has all the basic timekeeping capabilities one would expect from a decent midrange watch.
The BM8180-03E’ has white index hands with bold luminous panels and rectangular cutaways by the steams. The hands are white and stubby with a mildly tapered point. The second-hand offers a stark contrast to the stocky minute and hour hands. In fact, it is right red and narrow. What’s more, it has a sharp tapered end that provides a precise indication of the seconds. It also has a long nearly teardrop-shaped bottom that extends beyond the stems of the minute and hour hands.
Overall, the Eco-Drive’s modern combination of hands ensures that the watch’s face isn’t overly busy. They also provide a solid user experience. What’s more, since both the hands and dial feature luminous panels, this watch is easy to read in low light or even complete darkness.
While straps can always be traded out for leather and fabric aftermarket alternatives, there’s no need to replace the Eco-Drive durable canvas wristband. The band is made of a longlasting military-grade material. What’s more, it features an army green color that is synonymous with the Eco-Drive’s tactical appearance. The band is 7.5 inches long and 18 millimeters thick. It is super comfortable and fits most wrists.
It’s worth noting that many Eco-Watch wearers choose to switch out the stock canvas band. You can easily purchase an inexpensive leather watch band and give the Eco-Drive a whole new look.
The Eco-Drive BM8180-03E features a traditional stainless steel tang closure, which consists of a metal pin that can be inserted into a series of holes located along the canvas band. Tang closures are typically found on leather and canvas belts. They offer a secure hold that must be manually released. Tang clasps to not offer a quick deploy safety feature. It is often valued in tactical fields.
As marked on the face, the Eco-Drive has a water rating of 100 meters. This means that the watch can be used for recreational water activities. However, it’s not the best choice for recreational divers or swimmers.
Materials and Design of Citizen BM8180-03E
There’s nothing overly flashy or ostentatious about the Eco-Drive. It features basic yet durable materials that are designed to last an entire lifetime. These streamline features are extremely trendy right now, though the watch can be tinkered with to create a more personalized look.
It’s important to note that, unlike leather and fabric bands, the Eco-Drive’s canvas wristband does not absorb to retain moisture. As such, it remains comfortable when exposed to water or sweat. It is also incredibly easy-to-wash, requiring nothing more than a quick pat with a clean cloth.
Perfect Office Watch
While the Eco-Drive BM8180-03E isn’t well-suited for meetings with the executives at your office, its simple design makes it well-suited for most office jobs. The best part is, you don’t need to take it off when you hit the CrossFit course or go fishing.
Overall, the Eco-Drive is a decent everyday watch that is incredibly affordable compared to other midrange watches. While you only need to wear it once a week to garner enough power to run continuously, it can power up from common household lights. Meaning, its probably picking up charge even as it sits on your nightstand.
Citizen watches purchased in the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom features an extensive 5-year warranty. The watch’s power cells, case, and components are all guaranteed to be free from manufacturing and workmanship defects. They can be returned to the manufacturer for a complete replacement or repair. Of course, damage related to accidents is not covered.
The Eco-Drive BM8180-03E features a Japanese quartz movement. The E101M movement is powered by the Eco-Drive’s integrated solar panels. While the E101M lacks the beautiful gears of a mechanical movement, it makes up for that with accurate timekeeping.
If you were to remove the Eco-Drive`s back panel and take out the internal elements, you would find a small solar panel and an energy cell. These are used to provide uninterrupted power to the Eco-Drive’s movements. Of course, these technologies don’t offer much to look at. The solar panel is literally just a thin layer of silicone that is hidden beneath the watch’s face. However, it collects energy from the sun and converts into energy stores.
Durable Battery and Power Saving Mode
Of course, the Eco-Drive needs regular exposure to natural light to stay powered. It also has a battery that stores power when the Eo-Drive is not exposed to light. However, unlike most watch batteries, this unit almost never needs to be removed or replaced. The Eco-Drive battery is engineered to last up to 40 years when used as directed. While the battery is expected to depreciate a bit over time, it still maintains its impressive power over several seconds of use.
Eco-Drive watches even have a built-in power saving mode. This enables them to run continuously for an expansive period of time. If you continuously expose your watch to sunlight, you can expect it to stay in a charged state for several days or even years. Since the Eco-Drive is dependent on light for power, its battery life varies on its environment.
Final Impressions and Alternatives
If you’re looking for a sleek military-style watch, the Eco-Drive BM8180-03E may be your answer. This watch has a stunning look and durable facade. Not to mention, its petite design makes it tolerable during extended field exercises.
Of course, the Eco-Drive`s solar-powered movement is what really sets this timepiece apart from the pack. After all, the solar panels are completely hidden beneath the watch’s solid black face. What’s more, they offer hours of reliable and consistent power, so long as they are regularly exposed to light.
That means no replacement batteries and environmentally detrimental waste. The Eco-Drive BM8180-03E is the answer to sustainable timepiece fashion that we’ve always been looking for.
While the Eco-Drive is clearly there premier solar-powered wristwatch, there are a few intriguing alternatives to choose from. For example, Vaer’s Field Hunter has a very similar look without the solar-powered movement. Like the Eco-Drive, this American-made military-inspired watch has a brushed stainless steel case, minimalistic black faceplate, and a woven canvas band. It also has a durable Swiss movement that offers a lifetime of accurate timekeeping.
If you’re looking for a more indulgent wristwatch, Citizen’s WDR (With Due Respect) is a tactical masterpiece. Of course, it costs roughly $50 more than the Eco-Drive, but its black ion plating and chronograph give it a tough alpha exterior that’s respected in the field. What’s more, Citizen’s With Due Respect is, like the Eco-Drive, powered by light. Which, as you know, means no replacement batteries or manual rewinds.
Really want an upgrade? Citizen’s Brycen is a distinguished timepiece that will run you over $500. It has a stainless steel case, steel band, black faceplate, black dial bezel, and gold accents. With that said, there’s no doubt that the Brycen is the lux version of the Eco-Drive. Yet, it still boats the same Eco-Drive technology that utilizes light for reliable uninterrupted power.
It’s hard to resist the Eco-Drive’s impressive solar-powered technology. After all, one of the main qualms of a watch wearer is the mundane task of replacing the battery. The Eco-Drive isn’t picky either. It can conjure up energy from both natural and artificial light sources. As such, it`s a great timepiece for both office workers and military operatives.
Cozy and Long-Term
The Eco-Drive is a brutish physical specimen. It’s scratch resistant mineral window and stainless steel case ensure that it will last a lifetime without showing overt signs of abuse. What’s more, its durable canvas wrist band keeps the watch securely fastened onto your wrist without pulling at hairs or chafing skin.
The Eco-Drive BM8180-03E has a clean, uncluttered look that works with most styles. There are no cluttered dials or over-the-top hands to interfere with the timepiece’s dial. On top of that, powerful luminous panels enable users to see the dial in low light.
Durability and Economy
We also love that the Eco-Drive BM8180-03E features the same solar-powered technology found in Citizen’s luxury watches. Only, it costs a mere fraction of the price. If you’re looking to buy a solid military watch on a private’s salary, the BM8180-03E is definitely worth a glimpse.
While we were definitely satisfied with the BM8180-03E’s look and performance, we can see why some would be frustrated by its small build. The watch is on a smaller scale when it comes to men’s watches. While its light build makes it comfortable to wear, its small size may make it difficult to read.
On top of that, we were surprised that the Eco-Drive only featured one watch band. The company doesn’t even give customers the option to pay more and purchase a colorway or material of their choice. While switching out a watch band is a fairly simple process, we feel that the manufacturer should step up its game by offering a wider range of bands and closures.
After taking an in-depth look at the Eco-Drive BM8180-03E, we think it’s safe to say that solar-powered watch movements are the timekeeping technology of the future. In fact, it comes as no surprise that Citizen had almost completely focused its attention on its Eco-Drive products. Overall, this watch is attractive, rugged, and reliable. In fact, it offers everything we’ve come to expect in a field watch. Plus, there’s virtually no required maintenance. In fact, it’s the quintessential timepiece for someone who doesn’t want to be hassled by batteries and manual winds.