Citizen Eco-Drive Meaning & How Does It Work?

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Are you considering buying a Citizen Eco-Drive watch but don’t know what it means or how it works?

Citizen makes one of the most value for money timepieces. And if you look at the specs sheet of its watches then the Eco-Drive term will appear in almost all of them. But what is Citizen Eco-Drive, what does it mean, how does it work, do these watches need a battery, how long do they last, etc. are some of the questions that must be running in your mind?

But do not worry, you are at the right place now. In this article, I will tell you all the things that you need to know about Citizen Eco-Drive technology. So that you can make an informed decision whether to buy or not buy the Citizen Eco-Drive watch.

So keep reading!

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Citizen Eco-Drive Meaning

Citizen Eco-Drive Meaning

Let me address the thing for which you are reading this article and then will move on to other things.

In layman’s terms, Citizen Eco-Drive is a technology that runs the watch on light or solar energy. In fact, in 1976, Citizen came up with the world’s first analog quartz watch that was powered by light energy.

Rather than calling it solar energy, it is called light energy because the watch can run from any form of light. Be it from a natural source like Sun or a man-made source like a light bulb.

Citizen named it Eco-Drive because of its eco-friendly nature. As it uses a clean source of energy i.e. light energy.

How Does Citizen Eco-Drive Watch Work?

Eco Drive Technology

I will also try to explain this technology in common man’s terms.

The design of Citizen Eco-Drive quartz watches is almost similar to other quartz watches. And have similar watch parts i.e. on top of the watch sits a glass, then comes the dial, and then the case that houses the watch movement.

However, Citizen adds an extra layer of either a solar cell or a solar ring in its watches. This solar ring or cell absorbs the light that falls on the watch and converts it to energy. The energy is then passed to the movement, causing the movement to work. And once the movement starts, the watch also starts ticking.

The solar cell in Citizen watches is placed under the dial which is translucent in nature. And since the dial is translucent so all the light that falls on the watch dial, falls directly on the solar cell.

On the other hand, the solar ring in Citizen watches is placed above the dial (which is non-translucent in nature) like an inner bezel. This solar ring not only absorbs the light that falls on it but also absorbs the light that gets reflected from the non-translucent watch dial.

So this is how the Citizen Eco-Drive technology works. I am sure you must have understood it, if not then you can read this part again. You can also read this Citizen article on Eco-Drive technology to know more.

Does Citizen Eco-Drive Watch Need A Battery?

Watch Batteries

Yes, Citizen Eco-Drive watches need a battery. Since the light energy causes the watch movement to run. So as long as the watch is in presence of light, it will keep ticking i.e all day long. But what will happen when the sun goes down and you turn off all the lights?

The watch will stop working, right? Because it will not get any power.

So to prevent this, Citizen Eco-Drive watches use a battery or cell. The function of this battery or cell is to store all the surplus energy that is getting generated when the light is falling on the watch. And when everything goes dark, the watch uses the energy stored in the cell to keep running.

However, these batteries do not require replacements as frequently as other watches that require replacements in around 2 to 3 years. Therefore you will not have to visit the watch repair center often.

How Long Does It Take To Charge A Citizen Eco-Drive Watch?


The time it takes to charge a Citizen Eco-Drive watch will depend on how powerful the light source is.

According to this Citizen article, if you keep it 8 inches from a 30W light bulb then it will take a total of 130 hours to charge the watch fully. And it will take around 40 minutes of charging to keep it running for one whole day.

Similarly, if you go outside on a sunny day wearing your watch then your watch will get fully charged in just 11 hours. And a charging of just 2 minutes will keep your watch running for 1 day. Needless to say that these numbers will go up if it’s a cloudy day. On a cloudy day, it will take around 40 hours to get 100% charged.

How Long Does A Citizen Eco-Drive Lasts?

Citizen Watch

If you are wondering about the longevity of the watch, then you do not have to worry. Citizen Eco-Drive watches can easily last for a lifetime with minimal maintenance. Citizen is known for making great quality watches and if not lifetime then you can at least expect them to last for a decade.

If you are wondering about the battery life of Citizen Eco-Drive watches, then you again do not have to worry. As long as you are near a light source, it does not matter how small, your watch will keep ticking.

And if you own multiple watches and want to store your watch when not using it in your closet then also your Eco-Drive watch will keep running. Because Citizen claims that once fully charged, these watches can run for a minimum of six months. So even if your watch does not see a little amount of light then too you do not have to worry for at least six months.

How Much Does A Citizen Eco-Drive Watch Cost?

Citizen Eco-Drive watches start from as low as around $100. As I said earlier, Citizen is known for making great quality solar watches at a very affordable price. So if you have got impressed with its Eco-Drive technology and want to own it then you do not have to spend big. In fact, you can find some of the best Citizen watches under $500, almost all of them come with the Eco-Drive technology.


Is The Citizen Eco-Drive A Mechanical Watch?

No, Citizen Eco-Drive watches are quartz watches.

Will An LED Light Charge An Eco-Drive Watch?

Yes, an LED light will charge the Eco-Drive watch. However, the time to fully charge it will depend on how powerful the LED light is.

What Is The Best Way To Charge A Citizen Eco-Drive?

The best way to charge your Citizen Eco-Drive watch is to wear it outside or keep it in the sunlight.

How Do You Wind A Citizen Eco-Drive Watch?

Citizen Eco-Drive watches run on quartz movement and are powered by light energy. Therefore they do not need winding.

What Movement Does Citizen Eco-Drive Use?

Citizen Eco-Drive watches use quartz movement.

Tom Nielson

Tom's love for watches started when his grandfather gifted him his Rolex watch when he turned 18! Being a teenager it was a big deal for him. Later when he got his first job he bought Fossil Palm Pilot back in 2003 which was a smartwatch. Since then smartwatches have come a long way and so is Tom's love for them. His experience with watches inspired him to start Wearholic and share his knowledge of wearables including watches, smartwatches, smart glasses, & smart clothing.

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