Easy to read
Solar powered battery
Poorly designed strap
About the Citizen Eco-Drive AT0200-05E Watch
Japanese company Citizen has been producing timepieces for over 100 years. Although it’s built a reputation through affordable pricing and collaborations with brands like Star Wars and Disney, Citizen’s most popular styles come from its Eco-Drive collection, a line of solar-powered timepieces. These watches convert any source of light into energy that’s stored in a power reserve, meaning they don’t have batteries to run out. Citizen claims one of its fully charged Eco-Drive watches can be stored in total darkness for up to six months without losing power.
Within the Eco-Drive collection is the BM8180-03E, also known as The Chandler, a bestselling military-inspired watch frequently recommended as an affordable, entry-level timepiece and that retails for around $200 at Citizen. The AT0200-05E, which I evaluated for this review, is a functional upgrade to The Chandler, equipped with a chronograph that measures up to 60 minutes, a 24-hour subdial, and a second subdial that tracks seconds, for $236 at Citizen. Both watches have a nylon strap, up to 100 meters of water resistance, a date window, and luminous hands.
What we like
It’s easy to read
I’ve been wearing this watch daily for the last two weeks and haven’t experienced any issues with its readability in bright sun or low light alike. Like most field watches, the AT0200-05E has bold numbers on its face. Even though its predecessor, the BM8180-03E, has much less busyness around its dial, the AT0200-05E is just as simple to use to tell time. The numbers around its dial are large and white, which looks terrific contrasted against its black background. The sword-shaped minute and hour hands look as cool as they are prominent against the face. The watch’s design is also nicely tied together with the face’s outer ring of dashes and luminous hour dots, which to me resembles train tracks.
The AT0200-05E’s chronograph feature—in laypeople terms, that’s a stopwatch—is easy to follow and read. To start the count, press the button above the crown (the screwable piece that also allows you to adjust the time), and push the button below to reset it. That long, skinny red hand ticks up the seconds, while the tiny subdial at the 10 o’clock position tracks how many minutes have passed by. The bottom subdial counts the seconds of the actual time that’s ticking, while the top right gives you a 24-hour clock. Even though the watch’s hands are on the wider side, they never cover up too much of the subdials that they’re unreadable.
It’s good for daily use
This watch offers a great mix of form and function: It’s stylish enough to wear daily, yet durable enough to not have to worry about wear and tear. When I wear a watch, I try to reach for casual styles that stick out for time-telling functionality over luxury signaling—hence why I’m a G-Shock fan. This Citizen watch fills that bill as well.
Its tough green nylon strap, shiny silver case, and large print numbers make it a versatile accessory to practically anything in my closet. Its 39mm case makes it sleek on my wrist and unobtrusive during daily outings. The added flair of three subdials, the long, skinny, red second hand, and two buttons for operating a chronograph elevate its otherwise basic appearance. Whether it’s a quick lunch or a trip to the farmer’s market, there’s yet to be an occasion where this watch doesn’t feel appropriate.
The leather lining the inside of the nylon strap makes it comfy for all-day wear, while the nylon itself doesn’t bother me when I’m sweaty or if its wet from doing the dishes—a stinky wrist can be a real problem, and I thankfully didn’t smell any of that here. The watch’s case, meanwhile, is hefty stainless steel that I’ve knocked against my car more than a few times, yet it remains unscuffed and polished.
No battery necessary
Undoubtedly, the best part about the AT0200-05E is that it’s solar-powered. I can wear this watch without ever having to worry about replacing its battery, as it pulls energy from the light around it. To spend roughly $230 on a versatile, functional watch that can practically last a lifetime seems like a no-brainer. I’m all for this low-maintenance kind of deal.
What we don’t like
Questionable strap design
Although I like the appearance of the dark military green strap, its buckle clasp has an awful design. Instead of simple punched holes, each of the seven notches for size adjustment is encircled with a metal grommet. This may be better for durability, but it makes threading the watch strap through its buckle fussy and time-consuming, as the grommets catch on the clasp.
Also troubling: For a watch that's designed to be water-resistant, the choice of lining the nylon strap with leather is odd. Leather can soak up water and bacteria and breed odors. Although I didn’t have any issues wearing the AT0200-05E during my two-week test period, anyone who is getting their watch wet regularly should switch this band out. Leather and water are not a good combination.
Should you buy it?
Yes, if you’re looking for a field watch with flair
The AT0200-05E may not be as barebones as other field watches out there, but the added features of a chronograph, three subdials, and red accents gives it just enough flair to make it an interesting timepiece. If you’re on the hunt for a tough watch that can take more than a few accidental nicks and never needs a battery change, this is a worthy piece.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Kevin Cortez is a staff writer for Reviewed’s style section. He’s lived in Florida since birth and is still unsure if he enjoys it.
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