The History of Citizen’s Eco-Drive Technology


We’re very excited here at Citizen because we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of our proprietary Eco-Drive technology! We pride ourselves on our cutting-edge technology and our dedication to constantly improving and combining form, function, and fashion. We introduced the first light-powered analog watch in 1976 in response to outside social issues and also to support our founding principle to create watches for all the citizens of the world.

The 1970s brought more consumer awareness to the environment and how we were badly treating planet Earth. Everyone knew that watch batteries thrown into landfills were harmful to the environment as they were not bio-degradable, so we looked instead to use a natural energy (sunlight) to power our watches. A free energy source that is available to all the citizens of the world. Today, we continue to work towards building the most sustainable and eco-friendly watches for our customers who are socially conscious and care about the Earth.

477A0286-3With Crystron, our first light-powered watch, we had to find a way to have light pass through the dial and to capture and store this light energy into a power cell that could keep our watches running even in the dark. The very first Eco-Drive watch had the solar cell clearly visible on the watch dial. For the past forty years we have perfected the technology through the miniaturization of solar panels and we’ve never looked back!

In the beginning most of our watches with Eco- Drive were made using plastic dials, which were transparent and therefore allowed the light to pass through the dial easily to the power cell. This proved to be an effective way to capture light energy but made us have to compromise our style and design aesthetic, since plastic dials do not have the same richness and detail found in metal dials.

You may wonder… how do Citizen’s watches function today and yet look so sleek? Well, we developed a thin film wafer technology that can be placed under the dial as opposed to the top of the dial like it was in 1976. This allows us to have multiple dial colors, and treatments for our customers’ ever-evolving taste!

Plastic dials put limitations on our dial designs so we first starting working on improving our Eco- Drive technology to make it more efficient so they would work using less light energy. Once we solved that problem we were then free to use smaller and different types of solar cells. In 2011 we created ring solar panels. A thin circular light trapping panel that surrounds the metal dial. We could now incorporate the beauty and flexibility of metal dials with eye-catching colors and fashionable treatments while circling the dial with a light catching ring!

2016 proves to be yet another milestone for Eco- Drive technology with the creation of Eco- Drive One. The world’s thinnest light-powered analog watch. Showing once again how we utilize our research and development teams to push beyond what has been done before. We are so glad that we get to celebrate our 40th anniversary of Eco-Drive with you, the customers who have been our inspiration since the very beginning! At Citizen we make watches for all the citizens of the world.

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