Citizen Eco-Drive One Limited Edition


Citizen Eco-Drive One LE side view

The Citizen Eco-Drive One is the world’s thinnest watch. And? While no Watchbox video would be complete without Tim Mosso revealing whether or not a particular timepiece fits under a shirt cuff, after that benchmark, at some point, horological thinness is like limbo dancing: both completely astounding and faintly ridiculous. Then again . . .

Grain of rice (courtesy

You gotta admire the technical prowess required to create Citizen’s world-beating caliber 8826 – a movement that’s thinner than an average grain of rice (1mm vs. 1.5mm). Installed inside an Eco-Drive One, the entire watch is just 2.98mm thick – sightly less than two pennies stacked on top of each other.

The Eco-Drive One series are all minimalist models: two-handers with hour markers, minute indices, the all-caps brand name and . . . that’s it. The two-toned black-and-blue variant above is a real peach, ‘though the 39mm timepiece would look better on a larger wrist.

Citizen Eco-Drive One Limited on its side

The limited edition Citizen Eco-Drive One AR5044-03E (above and top of the post) is the one to have, TTAW’s minimalist watch of the day. The two-tone Japanese timekeeper has a dark grey SuperTitanium case (we heart titanium) accented by mirror polished steel, sitting atop a binderless-cemented carbide caseback, riding on a black crocodile strap.

Citizen Eco-Drive One casebackWhile the SuperTitanium Eco-Drive One LE weighs in at a scant 48 grams (1.6931502 ounces), it’s heavy on the wallet. Back in 2018, a thousand AR5044-03E’s hit the streets at $6400 apiece. That eventually fell to $5400 and sold out (still listed on Citizen’s website).

Citizen Eco-Drive One AR5024-01E

Not to worry. If our MWOTD flicks your Bic, you can buy a pristine pre-owned Eco-Drive Limited for $3600 or thereabouts. Before you warm-up your plastic, know this: you can buy a new, slightly less fabulous black Eco-Drive One like the one above for $2800.

Whose resale value will also sink like a stone thrown in a deep dark well. Three factors account for the ultra-thin watches’ massive depreciation:

1. It’s quartz powered – Collectors OK with quartz watches feed at the lower end of the market. Six Benjamins is a bridge too far. Five? That too. Do I hear four? I do not.

2. It’s a Citizen –  A watch made by a mass market manufacturer is always going to struggle to bring in big bucks. Yes, even Seiko’s Grand Seiko sub-brand.

3. It’s boring – Grand Seiko knows that a minimalist watch at this price point (and above) requires a sublime dial. Citizen does not.

Call me an iconoclast, but all three of these considerations push me towards the gray-and-black Eco-Drive One LE, rather than away.

Citizen Eco-Drive One Caliber 0100

But if I had a spare $7k hanging around, I’d buy the last remaining (out of 500) Eco-Drive One CALIBER 0100 (AQ6021-51E). It’s thicker and blingier, but it’s the world’s most accurate watch that doesn’t adjust time to a remote source.

Citizen’s Caliber 0100 movement is accurate to +/- 1 second per year as opposed to the Eco Drive One’s variation of +/- fifteen seconds per month. I reckon accuracy – not thinness – is the quartz watch’s unique selling point. The market agrees


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