There’s a common belief that Citizen Eco-Drive watches last forever, but is this really the case? The Eco-Drive line of watches by Citizen is a popular type of watch which uses Citizen’s proprietary technology to allow you to use any kind of light, including office light or even dim light to recharge the timepiece. This is different from solar-powered watches because the Eco-Drive can be charged virtually anywhere where light is strong enough including indoors without the need for a battery. Over the years, they have gained a reputation for lasting forever, but as you’ll discover shortly, that’s not the case, as there are still reasons why the watches may need repairs and servicing.
1: The solar cell needs recharging. This is the single most common reason why Eco-Drive watches are brought in for servicing, and ironically, they still work perfectly fine. Eco-Drives can slow down, tick by two seconds at a time, and eventually stop ticking completely when in need of a charge. If the watch isn’t charged in light that is bright enough (Citizen recommends charging 8 inches away from a 30-watt light), the watch may not charge at all. If you have fully charged your watch and the second hand continues to move in two-second intervals, you may need to do a reset of the watch. For analog models, you can do this by pulling the crown out to the time setting position for 30 seconds, then returning the crown to the closed position next to the case, after which you can set the time. Because of the nature of Eco-Drive watches, most issues stem from an uncharged watch, but as we’ll see, there are legitimate things to watch out for if your watch still isn’t functioning after trying the steps above.
2: The movement/gaskets need servicing: If you check out our article on the 5 things to look for when troubleshooting your broken watch, you’ll see that there’s a lot out there that can damage your favorite timepiece, including water damage and extreme temperatures. These things can still harm your Eco-Drive watch, so it is important to be aware of the water-resistance level of your watch as well as awareness of the temperatures you’re exposing your watch to, especially when charging it. If your watch gets water in the case, the gaskets may need replacing and the cost of repairs can increase depending on the watch’s condition. For a general rule of thumb, we recommend that you learn about the model of Eco-Drive you have and its ability to resist water and always leave a margin of safety when swimming or diving, so as not to unintentionally affect the watch. More details of Citizen’s specific water resistance queries. When charging your Eco-Drive watch, it is very important to follow the recommended light and heat guidelines for charging your watch, as it is possible to break your watch by exposing it to temperatures that are too warm. This can happen if you charge it by putting it in the dashboard of a warm car, or when putting it too close to an incandescent lamp or a halogen lamp which can cause very high temperatures during prolonged exposure. When all is said and done, there is no substitute for natural sunlight, which is the most effective way to charge your Eco-Drive Watch safely.
3: The solar cell needs replacing: The Eco-Drive watch uses a thin disc of Silicon underneath the dial to convert light energy into electrical energy. The electrical energy is then stored in a special energy storage cell which allows your watch to retain charge for up to 6 months on a full charge. This solar cell, as highly specialized and efficient as it is, won’t last forever. The solar cells in Eco-Drive watch last 20+ years before needing replacement, and can be replaced at an expert Watch Technician to get your watch working smoothly again.
In conclusion: Citizen Eco-Drive watches are a wonderful, long-lasting timepiece option which is understandably beloved by many for the ease of use and the “set it and forget it” nature of the watch. Despite not having a battery, we’ve learned that whether it is by running out of charge, the movement needing replacing, or the solar cell finally timing out, Eco-Drive watches will need occasional servicing to ensure that the “lifelong watch” really lives up to its reputation.
Do you have an Eco-Drive Watch that needs servicing? Bring in your Eco-Drive for service! Before we go, we’d love to know how long your Eco-Drive has lasted so far. 5 years? 10 years? 20 or more? Let us know in the comments below!