My experience with Citizen Eco-Drive watches

I bought a brand new Citizen Eco-Drive watch last week (Solar power watches).  The price was around 200$ (with the added extra three year warranty).  I was told by the sales person, all you need to do is charge this watch for 24 to 48 hours and it would retain the power for at least 6 months (if the watch was not exposed to light again),

I charged it for two days (left the watch by window)…I then tried it on and it worked for about 2 hours and then completely stop.  After two attempts of charging it, I went back to the store (People) and ask what was wrong.  I was told I did not charge it long enough.  I said OK…so I went back home after this extra trip to the store and I did not wear the watch for a whole week and focus on charging the watch, by the window during days and below a lamp during the nights and, after a week of this charging…. still no success.

I went back Friday evening and got to store a little too late (8:59 PM) and was told to come next day because they were closing and didn’t have time to look at it.

Saturday I went back to store and told the sales clerk I wanted a full refund and I was going somewhere else. I received my full refund. The store acknowledged there was issue with watch. I am now shopping again for a watch.

My experience with  Citizen Eco-Drive watches wasn’t good and I will be avoiding them and I won’t be recommending them to anyone.

The final thing I will share is that my friend Andrew told me he had purchased one of those watch 4 years ago and paid around 300$ for it.  Andrew had no problem with his watch until year 4. On year 4, the watch stopped retaining the charge.  He told me that the store would not replace the batteries.

Basically, once the Eco-drive battery dies it’s non-replaceable and you have to throw your watch away and it becomes garbage… convenient, so much for trying to be Eco Friendly.

Any thoughts?


18 thoughts on “My experience with Citizen Eco-Drive watches

  1. It’s always harder to be eco-friendly then people let on, but this just seems like a weird problem. I’ve got a Casio Pathfinder watch and it’s solar powered too, only it’s worked flawlessly for me. The batteries in this one are replacable far as I know.

    Might be something to look at if you like the style of the watch.

  2. Hey Gaetan,

    The eco-drive doesn’t actually have a battery, it uses a capacitor and the capacitor is replaceable. You can buy them for about $25 online. Stores like People’s wouldn’t stock them though as it is more difficult to replace than a regular battery, so it would be beyond the abilities of the store clerks to do the replacement.

    As for your experience, there are bound to be some duds in every product. I think they should have known there was a problem the first time you went back to the store but at least they replaced it when you went back.


  3. Hey G-Man.
    John and I both have eco-drives. I bought him his 6 years ago this month. It was around 400$ and is still going strong today. John, in turn, purchased one for me. It too, works great and has no problem with the charge. We have never had to “leave it laying out” to charge it and even if it has been away for a while, as soon as it come out of the drawer, it works fine. Hopefully you will have better luck.

  4. I have a Citizen echo drive watch I purchased 3 years ago and it too doesn’t work. I have done everything in my power to recharge it but just doesn’t want to recharge. Took it back to the jeweler I purchased it from told me the capacitor had to be replaced at a price tag of 175.00. I think that Citizen should replace these for free or have a recall on them. I have seen many post with the same issues. Never by a Citizen AGAIN.

  5. Charging through window glass is less effective than direct sunlight. The glass filters out some of the spectrum needed for charging. The watch may also need to be “reset” after charging. I just pull out the stem, wait about 30 seconds, then push it in again. The watch needs some light every day to keep running. My household and office normal wear do the trick except for the one month in winter where we have little light. New technology requires new habits. I hope you’ll have better luck next time.

  6. My wife and I have been wearing our low-end/low-cost Citizen Eco-drive watches since Feb 2012. We never had to ‘charge’ them. We just wore them out of the box. Super accurate and look like old style wind-up watches. They don’t look like solar powered watches at all. No more changing batteries! Since these are low-cost, we have to manually change the time for DST and when the day of the month goes out of sync. If we didn’t have to do those chores, my watch might be 10 or 15 seconds slow by now..

    I’ve heard that some of these watches have been running over 10 years, without needing a new battery (or capacitor?). I would really love to see my $87 BM8180-03E last for 10 years!!
    Never had a better watch..

  7. I too bought an eco drive which stopped working after 3yrs and was sent back to the manufacturer for repair under warranty, which it was. Unfortunately 2 days ago it has stopped doing anything once again and it will be going back. When I spend £230 ($350+/-) on a watch I do not expect it to break every 3yrs and have to be sent for repair. At this moment I am seriously unhappy with Citizen.

  8. Best Watch ever own. I have my Citizen Nighthawk since june 2007. It never stopped. It looks like it will be my last Watch for now… I will put a new capacitor in it after 10 years without any doubt if needed!

  9. I just bought a Citizens eco watch a few weeks ago from Rogers & Hollands jewelery store. Thought I’d get a good one for a change. The band has broken 4 times so far & fallen off. They say its not deffective but will gladly sell me a new band!! So far the Eco part works but continually falling off & hitting the floor can’t be good for it. Won’t ever buy Citizens again or shop at Rogers & Hollands. Ever hear of Customer Service??

  10. tl:dr version:

    If your Citizen EcoDrive is acting funny, try some generous daily charging for a week before you give up on yours. Regular office light is the slowest charging method, but be careful not to overheat it by letting it bake in your car, or placing it too close to a bulb. Watch types have different tolerances, so find yours on the Citizen website and download the charging manuals.

    long winded version:

    I’ve had my eco-drive for a couple of years, and it just recently started losing time. Googling around I found a guy in a watch forum who suggested that solar watches of any brand might be revived if you charge them everyday for a week. This guy is a collector of solar watches, different brands (casio – his favorite for durability, seiko, timex, citizen) and he claims to have revived multiple dead watches that way. I am going to try it, and I’m going to start charging more vigorously and consistently with good light sources. Relying on regular light at an office is not the best method.

    Here’s what I learned on the Casio site. EcoDrives have certain conditions they run best in. Generally, solar watches like bright sunlight the best, where it charges 3x faster than cloudy and 8x faster than office lighting. Incandescent (bulbs) is better than fluorescent. The watch will go for a day on just 2 minutes in bright sunlight, but takes 4 hours to charge fully, or 12 hours if the battery has depleted. Cloudy days charge about 3x slower than sunny. These are rough estimates. Each model has its own charging instructions and tolerances.

    Cautions: Models like mine (not the top of the line) are designed to function between 15-140 F – and optimally (more accurate, less chance of malfunction) at 40-96 degrees F. Don’t use LEDs, or put watch less than 20″ from a light bulb or 8″ from fluorescent. Don’t charge it on your dashboard in direct sun. Overheating will damage the components.

    Download your Casio’s manual for details. There is also an “all reset” function that they recommend once the Casio charges back up – on mine it was just pulling the crown all the way out to set time and waiting 30 seconds before pushing back in. I think that recalibrates to GMT but I’m not entirely sure.

    I’m hopeful that my beloved Eco (Citizen BM8180-03E) will be reliable again, after some generous charge time!

  11. I bought one new in December 2014 for $400. Stored in a glass case and noticed a few months ago it had stopped. Had to totally reset the watch (all the dial indicators were way off) and charged it in the sun and under an incandescent bulb for two weeks. Went to wear it last week and it has stopped dead cold. Put it in the sun and the time changed to something way off. I suspect total reset again. Not happy at all. I checked this watch several times after the charge and never got the “two second warning”. I have owned $400 Seiko watches that have quit also after only a few years. My $30 Casios never give problems. Last one I’ll buy.

  12. I have had a Citizen Eco-Drive watch for some 20+ years (it is also one of the cheapest they make) and it has worked perfectly. I thoroughly recomend them and it is probably the best watch I have ever had (3 watch straps later).
    It has in the last few days however stopped working at night, then starts up again when exposed to light.
    I think the battery has probably degraded or it needs a nice long charge (or both).
    Whatever the problem, the watch has given me many years of use, far more than all battery eating watches I have had before.

  13. I originally bought my Citizen eco drive on a famous auction site some 14+ years ago for a good price. It’s always been exposed to some sort of light – usually daylight and has never missed a beat. So far so good, but perhaps I was one of the lucky ones.

    I’m about to get an estimate done for the crown/stem replacement (mine is bent) a recondition or replacement of the glass (it’s scratched through use) and a service as it’s never had one.

    I’ve flipped Luminox and Rotary watches, because the battery replacement was a faff, but I always go back to my trusty eco drive!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s