The indulgent Citizen Eco-Drive Black Washi Paper Dial Limited Edition

In a largely mechanical world, Citizen, along with its Japanese brethren Casio and Seiko, continues to produce top-quality luxury quartz. The new Citizen Eco-Drive Black Washi Paper Dial Limited Edition continues that trend but with an extremely indulgent edge.

Endless discussions on what constitutes luxury horology can be had. In fact, were the answer a simple one, it is very likely the watch industry would have withered and died a long time ago. Luxury means different things to different people. While some focus on price and attainability, others focus on materials and craftsmanship. When it comes to the movement itself, the conversation tends to veer between the preference for the form of a meticulously machined, hand-finished caliber and cold-blooded accuracy. It is perhaps the clearest contest between the worlds of art and science within our industry.

So, what does it take to elevate the technically jaw-dropping but charmlessly clinical performance of a battery-powered quartz-regulated caliber so finely tuned it boasts an annual variation of just +/- 5 seconds to the status of luxury product? The answer, it would seem, is everything else.

Citizen Eco-Drive Black Washi Paper Dial Limited Edition
Citizen Eco-Drive Black Washi Paper Dial Limited Edition

Initial thoughts on the Citizen Eco-Drive Black Washi Paper Dial Limited Edition

Here, Citizen has endeavored to bring aesthetic novelty and interest to both the case and the dial of the Washi Paper Dial Limited Edition. The strap, while hardly groundbreaking, is at least genuine Crocodile leather and looks to be nicely made. At the very least, it complements the other components well and sits comfortably alongside a gold-plated case that is actually crafted from Super Titanium.

Citizen Eco-Drive Black Washi Paper Dial Limited Edition
Citizen Eco-Drive Black Washi Paper Dial Limited Edition

The underlying material of the case very much suits the technical character of the in-house A060 module. However, given Citizen’s desire to up the aesthetic ante for a watch projected to retail at or around USD 3,800, modifying the extremely utilitarian look of Super Titanium was deemed necessary. Enter Duratect, a tough gold-colored coating that enhances this watch’s visual character immediately.

Aside from its attractive color, Duratect gold is extremely scratch-resistant. Citizen wanted to ensure that this luxurious housing would stand up to the daily beating to which one would normally expect a highly accurate quartz watch to be subjected, making the unusual coating material a great choice. Normal gold is very soft, with a hardness rating of just 20–70 Vickers. Conversely, Duratect gold has a staggering hardness rating of 1,100–1,500 Vickers (for comparison, stainless steel has an untreated hardness of 150 Vickers). Supposedly, this means the watch will retain its desirable sheen for longer.

Citizen Eco-Drive Black Washi Paper Dial Limited Edition
Citizen Eco-Drive Black Washi Paper Dial Limited Edition

Case aside, however, the real star of the show is the dial, the story and reasoning behind it, and the way it interacts with the light-powered Eco-Drive Cal.A060. The dial is made from Washi paper, which you will probably have seen being used in shoji sliding screens in Japan. Its intended purpose is to bring light to indoor living spaces, which makes it the perfect material with which to cover the dial-side solar cells of the caliber.

Rather than using plain Washi paper, Citizen has opted to further enhance its luster by sprinkling crushed flakes of gold over the surface. This traditional Japanese method is called Sunago-maki and is performed by hand, ensuring that each dial is utterly unique.

Citizen Eco-Drive Black Washi Paper Dial Limited Edition
Citizen Eco-Drive Black Washi Paper Dial Limited Edition

What we think of the Citizen Eco-Drive Black Washi Paper Dial Limited Edition

I very much believe in the power of quartz. As a technology, I love it and cherish its explosive history now it has become clear that both it and mechanical horology can coexist. There are many ultra-reliable quartz watches in my collection, but the ones that receive the most attention are doted on not for their superior accuracy, but rather for their multi-functionality.

There is a time and a place for most things in the watch industry when done well. For me, a watch’s movement should suit the watch’s intended use. If a piece is designed to be elegant, so too should the movement be refined, well-finished, and, preferably, mechanical.

If a watch has been conceived as a tool, a basic quartz module can easily be excused. The argument for employing such technology becomes even easier when you drag in all of the things an electronic timer can do that a mechanical corollary cannot.

With the new Citizen Eco-Drive Black Washi Paper Dial Limited Edition, and all previous editions of the Washi paper concept (of which there are several), I can’t help but question the congruity of the movement and, specifically, the case.

Citizen Eco-Drive Black Washi Paper Dial Limited Edition
Citizen Eco-Drive Black Washi Paper Dial Limited Edition

The use of a paper dial sprinkled oh-so-delicately with gold dust is an absolutely perfect match for the Eco-Drive caliber that sits behind it. In fact, as far as the storytelling goes, this is one of the best efforts I’ve ever encountered from a Japanese brand. It is succinct, sensible, and satisfying.

However, if I could design my perfect watch around this concept, I would look first to reference AQ4091-56A, a white Washi paper dial watch in the core collection, and simply add a solid gold handset to it (in much the same way Grand Seiko did with its iconic Spring Drive Snowflake platform when it released reference SBGA059 to complement reference SBGA211). Such a design would lean on its textures rather than making the case the focal point.

Citizen Eco-Drive White Washi Paper Dial reference AQ4091-56A
Citizen Eco-Drive White Washi Paper Dial reference AQ4091-56A

Although it is apparent that Citizen anticipated a significant amount from this specific release, the watch itself possesses an appealing design that is likely to attract the attention of customers worldwide. The technology incorporated within the timepiece is impressive, accompanied by aesthetically pleasing features. If you find the overall package appealing, it presents an enticing opportunity. However, it is advisable to act swiftly if this watch aligns with your preferences, as it is highly probable that devoted Citizen enthusiasts will readily embrace the notable price associated with the 350-piece limited edition.

Citizen Eco-Drive Black Washi Paper Dial Limited Edition
Citizen Eco-Drive Black Washi Paper Dial Limited Edition

Citizen Eco-Drive Black Washi Paper Dial Limited Edition Specs and Price

Reference: AQ4103-16E
Movement: Cal.A060 with an annual variation of ±5 seconds
Functions: Time (hours, minutes, and seconds) and date
Case: 38.3 mm × 12.2 mm, hardened Super Titanium coated with Duratect Gold, water-resistant to 100 m
Dial: Black Japanese washi paper with gold leaf maki
Strap: Crocodile leather
Price: USD 3,800
Availability: Limited to 350 pieces

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