Citizen Diver & comparison

Another relatively low cost Divers model – the Citizen model BN0000-04H Date model.

Citizen BN0000-04H Diver

Citizen BN0000-04H Diver

This is the Citizen BN0000-04H Stainless Steel Divers Date model. 300m Water resistance rated and Screw Down crown plus rubber strap.
Eco Drive solar powered Quartz movement should mean good accuracy and no battery to worry about during it’s lifetime.
This model is particularly compact with a brushed stainless steel one piece case (no case back) of 40mm diameter (44mm with crown) 45mm lug to lug and only 9mm deep, which is very neat for a Diver.

Compact Diver but big markers compensate.

Compact Diver but big markers compensate.

Powered by the Citizen E-168 solar quartz Eco-Drive movement.  It has a black textured dial with inbuilt solar sensor and a hardened slightly convex mineral glass crystal, a perimeter minute track plus large luminous hour markers with luminous silver edged hour, minute and second hands.  There is also a small silver edged date window at @3.

One piece mono-bloc stainless steel case - (no removable back).

One piece mono-bloc stainless steel case – (no removable back).

Topside it has a really positive action 60 click uni-directional bezel with a luminous dot @12.  Screw down crown with a Water Resistance depth rating of 300 metres, which lifts it above the more usual 200m rating.
This model is paired with a Divers style rubber/resin band of good length, fitted to standard but heavy duty lug spring bars, which is good news if you need to change the strap for an alternative (see later images).
As usual this Citizen model comes with their 5 year Guarantee included.

A word on the bezel – On this model, it has a smooth rounded top, which slopes away from the crystal.  This in my opinion gives rise to two slight concerns  – 1) it makes the bezel slightly more difficult to grip despite the great click action and 2) it arguably reduces what little dial/crystal protection there is.  I personally would have preferred a more defined knurled/shaped bezel to assist grip, but I’m maybe being over picky here I suppose and the actual bezel click action is very, very good.

In use – The overall impression is of a smooth edged compact watch and one of the smaller Divers around and all within a “one piece” 300m Depth rated case.  I note the dial background is indeed black, but a little reflective in bright or artificial light, though conversely in low light situations it’s OK (makes sense as there’s less light to reflect).  My own preference would be for this to be completely matte, but it’s not a big deal.

Now to comparison – Citizen BN0000-04H v Seiko SKZ781K3 Monster.
As I have the  two Divers models above here’s my personal thoughts on my preferences and reasons.

Size – Now I said this Citizen model is a compact watch, though when compared to the Seiko Monster, at first glance there doesn’t seem much in it apart from the depth (9mm to 13mm), where the Monster is very chunky.  The actual diameter of both two models is only 1 or 2 mm difference.

Comparative sizes - Citizen versus Seiko

Comparative sizes – Citizen versus Seiko

It is however in the dial size and more specifically the dial marker diameter and separation where the real size difference can be seen.  And this is very evident in the images showing the luminosity of both models and where in my opinion the Seiko scores over the Citizen.  The Seiko hands are longer and broader which also helps the overall clarity.

Dial & markers size differences. The Seiko is much larger.

Dial & markers size differences. The Seiko is much larger.

In the dark or in low light the visible luminous dial of the Seiko is much larger and the marker diameter obviously for me is clearer to read.

Note the size difference of the luminous dials. The larger the better.

Note the size difference of the luminous dials. The larger the better.

Movement wise the Citizen is a Solar Eco-Drive quartz therefore light driven and the Seiko is a mechanical automatic which uses the wrist movement to wind.  As they both work well my preference has to be a purely personal thing.
And this is a tough one for me, as here in Scotland I’ve always had a tiny concern re’ solar watches, simply as we don’t have much sun and it’s also cold.  Both observations have a bearing on my conclusion.  Here watches are more often covered by sleeves and they don’t get much chance of an optimum daily charge (Citizen actually warns you that not doing so may cause the watch to maintain insufficient charge).  So whenever the opportunity comes along to let the watch get some light on it – you should take it.
But it’s easy to forget . . .
And as far as accuracy is concerned however, the E-168 Solar movement, being quartz of course is better than you’ll ever need.

The Seiko being a mechanical Automatic, winds itself by your wrist movement, so once it’s on your wrist, forget it (no light worries then).  It will easily keep fully wound when on the wrist and when off the wrist, it’ll manage around 40 hours (assuming it’s fully wound of course) or so before it stops.  So if the Seiko is your daily beater, then no problem, just wear it and forget it.
Accuracy – of course it’s not going to be as good as quartz, but in practice the Seiko is accurate to around 4 seconds a day and that’s easily good enough for me or most of us for that matter.

So which power source do I prefer? – Surprisingly I prefer the mechanical Seiko.  However if I lived in the South of France or the USA where short sleeves was the order of the day – then I might prefer the Solar accuracy (maybe).  There are of course, newer technology models now from Seiko, that utilise their Kinetic system and they do produce some Diver models with it, so maybe these would be the ideal for me.  I may have to look into that!

And the final question – which model do I prefer – the Citizen BN or the Seiko Monster Orange?  I would note that both models are good to wear and I do like them both – but . . . which?

Well for me, all things considered, I have to admit a preference for the slightly larger Seiko Orange Monster.

And the reason is basically an amalgam of parts – and just because of the overall package .

How it looks I suppose is the first thing  –  and the Orange Monster really does look the business and that matters (maybe it’s the latent macho in me – who knows) but it just “looks” right!
Dial wise it’s that little bit larger and with larger hands and better markers separation, it IS easier to read.  It’s luminous quality is also slightly better, in that there is a small difference in brightness after being in total dark for 6 hours – the Seiko IS just that bit easier to see – and that’s a fact (not that the Citizen is poor – far from it – but it’s not quite as good).
I prefer the bezel on the Seiko too, with the slight turn up towards the edge and the better defined knurls, gives better protection and is slightly easier to grip.
Also and not speaking diver here, the Date window on the Citizen is a tad small, whereas the Seiko Day/Date is larger and again much easier to read.

Interestingly as I write these points down it’s very apparent that “clarity” is an important element in my decision.  There is a difference in the perceived clarity of both models and the Seiko scores almost every time.  Little wonder then, why so many have raved about the “Monster” (a cult icon for many it appears), as it has that something about it that “works”.

As a friend said to me recently – Watch?  Diver?  Orange Monster?  – Let’s ‘ave a look then? – Oh yeah!  Monster!  (sorry about that, but he’s not from round here! 😉

And no it’s not perfect of course, but it has much to be liked, such as that amazingly constructed case – I urge you to take a close look at it – 3 different lug sizes, uneven case overlaps shrouding the bezel and that odd crown protection, the upwards slanting bezel and the case overlap profiles at the strap fixing points.

Amazing detailing that is so easy to miss maybe – but perhaps just part of the secret of this watch and what makes the “Orange Monster” –  one of a kind.

I love it!

Additional images –

Citizen with Nato

Citizen with Nato

And finally –

Seiko Orange Monster with Silicon deployment.

Seiko Orange Monster with Silicon deployment.

Update –

Well it’s in the wearing that a watch really shows it’s true colors and that is certainly true of the two models featured above.  I’m finding that wrist time is pretty much equal in that I’m wearing each one more or less alternately.  In short I like them both very much – take this last few days for example – Friday Monster, Saturday Citizen, Sunday Monster and today Citizen and there is no doubt in my mind that much of it is to do with the strap change, with both now on Silicon deployment straps.  They’re simply far more comfortable, especially if you are using these as daily beaters – and that said – they are both difficult to beat!

Citizen Diver comfort on silicon deployment.

Citizen Diver comfort on silicon deployment.

Seiko Monster comfort on silicon deployment.

Seiko Monster comfort on silicon deployment.

OK Monster

My new Citizen Diver unfortunately has not yet arrived, I thought I’d show my other model – my Seiko diver, which may not need any introduction, but for those who don’t have one, here it is.

Seiko Orange Monster

Seiko Orange Monster

And this is a real favorite amongst many it seems – the Seiko SKZ781K3 “Orange Monster”.  It’s one of those “tactile” models, you know the thing – once you wear it and really see it close up, it is one very solid chunk of stainless steel and yet it somehow just “feels” right.  Mostly and deceptively, because it is NOT large – not at all!  So don’t be put off by those massive looks, because in reality it is remarkably compact, though looking like it’s title – a Monster!  The case is a very clever and dare I say, almost extravagant, stainless steel that really does give a great feeling of solidity.  There is absolutely no doubt it has that something about it and the specification’s pretty decent too.

As I say – this is a compact diver at 42mm x 13mm so a great size for those if us with normal size wrists 😉 and the band/lug width is a tight 20 mm, so easy to source an alternative bracelet or strap.  (See my wrist shot – and I only have 170mm wrists).  Unfortunately no screw in lug/strap bars, which would be my preference, though Seiko do use really heavy weight spring bars between the lugs for strap or bracelet fitting

Monster fits my 170mm wrist just fine!

Monster fits my 170mm wrist just fine!

My Monster here sports a non Seiko ladder flexible rubber strap though is due for a change, but that’s no reflection on the watch of course.

The large 120 click uni-directional bezel is very “in your face” with sharp black clear markings and a luminous dot @12.  It also slopes down slightly towards the Hardlex Crystal, which is gently domed for optimum viewing under water, so the eye naturally is drawn to the super clear orange dial.  Large luminous markers and a minute track on the perimeter, broad black edged Lumibrite hour and minutes hands complimented by a black luminous tipped arrow head seconds sweep hand.  An excellent and very clear day and date window @3 with edge highlight in black plus contrasting white background discs with black letters, means it’s easily read without the need for a magnifying bubble.

Monster dial

Monster dial

At the 18 minutes position the well defined Screw Down Crown sits, very well protected by a crown guard above and below by the very clever extended steel case lug.

The movement is the 21 jewel mechanical automatic (self winding with movement of the your arm) Seiko 7S26, so will never need a battery and is a reasonable accuracy for a mechanical engine.  It is also a very well tried Seiko Japanese movement so there should be no surprises with it.  It is also a non-hacking movement, which means when the crown is pulled out to adjust the time, the second hand does not stop. (I understand newer model versions use Cal. 4R36, which is hacking).  However with a mechanical watch I’ve personally never needed such split second accuracy anyway, so I’m fine with that.  Accuracy-wise the 7S26 at 21,600 bph is maybe +/- 5 secs per day with a power reserve of up to 40 hours.  The movement also doesn’t hand wind but simply waving it about a bit, starts it off easily, so just put it on and your away!

Steel screw back and crown protection

Steel screw back and crown protection

Overall impressions with this watch is that it’s a built like a tank and is very solid and reassuring.  And as any Diver should, it has a 200m Water Resistance rating and a good sized screw down crown.
So overall in my opinion and that of many others apparently, this is an exceptional watch for the money, of that there is no doubt – and whilst it may be a bit of a statement, indeed almost a cult watch, it actually does the business, does it very well and looks stunning.

Seiko Monster - looks the part, but only 13mm depth

Seiko Monster – looks the part, but only 12.9mm depth

Just a word about the luminous quality of the dial.  There is no question that if exposed to daylight for any length of time, the light “charge” is bright and very effective.  If you then put the watch in a dark place soon after, the luminous markers and hands etc. are outstanding, very bright and clear so you could almost read a book by it!  This image is taken in a darkened room (not fully dark) and shows the luminous quality – note the black outlines accentuate the hands rather well.

Luminous effect after about 10 minutes (after the initial charge dies off).

Luminous effect after about 10 minutes (after the initial charge dies off).

Of course this brightness does not remain as the image above and does fade, though I’m happy to say the “Monster” performs well enough to tell the time in the dark even after 6 hours or so.

5 am - luminous dial still readable

5 am – luminous dial still readable (Sorry – not my best photo!)

Whilst the luminous dial does fade and dependent on the initial charge as to how long this fading takes, it could just glow a little by early morning.  However your eyes will be well adjusted to the dark and should still be able to make out the time.  So overall not bad and almost as good (though not quite!) as my old Breitling, which always manages to retain a luminous quality, regardless of light exposure.

So in conclusion the Seiko lives up to it’s reputation very well and especially with this model, which really represents excellent value as a Diver class model.  And as soon as my Citizen turns up I hope to check it out here and perhaps do a comparison.  Anyway it’s nice to have two different takes on a theme from competing brands – should be interesting.

Update – Thursday 5th December 2013

I noted that the non-Seiko ladder rubber strap on my Monster was needing replaced.  I did this the other night and used a twin button over locking deployment type in Silicon rubber.  It was 20mm width and apart from the fact I had to coax the heavy weight Seiko spring bars into the strap fixing holes with a touch of WD40 (they slid in easily then) it fitted just great.  Gives a much lower profile on the wrist and more comfortable too.

Replacement Silicon deployment strap for under £12

Replacement Silicon deployment strap for under £12

As you can pretty much guess, I don’t do diving these days so my simple lume test was basically day time/bed time and see what I could see on wake up.  But from that it’s pretty obvious that underwater, what with the light before the dive and the initial descent, the Lumibrite will absorb more than enough light to manage the task.  As to the strap; if I was diving or scuba/snorkeling or whatever, I’d fit a full rubber strap, as it’s long length would allow me to wear it over a wet suit and so on.   I’m unsure if the bracelet version of the Monster has an extension (like my Breitling) to extend the wrist length just for that purpose, but whatever, this does show that strap and bracelet wise this watch will take almost any standard item, no problem.

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