Eight Sub-$300 Stunners From Citizen

Eight Sub-$300 Stunners From Citizen

For the people.

Citizen actually has a surprisingly long history for a brand that many people take for granted as they walk past it in almost every mall jeweler window. And yet, in this case, ubiquity should not breed nonchalance.

There is a lot to get excited about with Citizen, especially given the very high performance you can expect for incredibly reasonable prices. While the vast majority of the Citizen watches on this list are quartz-powered rather than automatic, I always say buy the best your budget allows. You can buy a solid quartz movement for $300. For the same price, you can only just crack into the entry-level mechanical movements. While I have included one or two on this list for a change of pace, I'd be keeping my eyes glued to the value proposition offered by quartz if I were you.

CITIZEN Promaster Diver 200 Meters Eco-Drive Black Dial Men's Watch

Let's start with some low-hanging fruit. At under $200, the Promaster Diver 200 Meters Eco-Drive Black Dial Men's Watch is a classic. The Promaster family is super professional from top to bottom. Yes, dive computers take away a lot of the stress that was once borne by these small ticking tools. Yet, Citizen has had serious diving chops before the advent of electronic assistants. These Promasters still call back to those simpler/far more deadly times. They are handy, reliable tools and a significant part of the brand's history as a wild watch manufacturer.

The aesthetic won't be for everyone, but if you like the rugged, rough, and ready look like I do, you'll very quickly learn to appreciate this family. And it's really tough to beat a bright orange minute hand, after all…

CITIZEN Eco-Drive Promaster Red Dial Men's Watch

I don't know about your life, but I know that my life is very badly missing a big red dive watch. Who doesn't love a bit of red? In truth, the watch industry has always been in love with "a bit" of red. However, plastering it all over the dial and bezel might be seen as a step too far for some.

I disagree. When it comes to big, bold watches like this, my advice is to go hard or go home. This (very casual) diver measures 44mm and wears like a hockey puck. It is not for the faint-hearted, but it's awesome. It's probably the most wrist recognition a shade over $200 can buy, and in my book, that makes it a bargain.

Best of all, these watches are both powered by Eco-Drive calibers. This means the timekeeping is regulated by a quartz crystal for superb accuracy. It also means the power source is actually a rechargeable capacitor as opposed to a traditional battery. The solar-powered cell in the Citizen Caliber Eco-Drive E168 keeps the watch ticking for years without maintenance. Again, this is some smart stuff for a watch that costs the same as 34 Big Mac meals. I'm sure you're able to identify which one of those options is better for your health...

CITIZEN Eco-Drive Promaster Chronograph Black Dial Men's Watch

Don't worry: if looking at the Eco-Drive Promaster Chronograph JR4045-57E takes you back to 1995, you're not alone. If it makes you feel like a kid again, there's nothing to fret about. It's normal; it's natural; we all feel the same.

This watch has the uncanny ability to transport you back through time. Think back to the heyday of electronic organizers, wristwatch calculators, the dawn of computer consoles, the internet, and the last decade of rampant optimism.

While that may sound like a depressing assessment of the modern world, fear not! For less than $240, you can travel back to the '90s, making sure you remembered to set the VCR to record Power Rangers. All thanks to your multi-functional timepiece being able to remind you of, well, pretty much anything and everything.

A countdown timer, a pair of alarms, along with a host of other functions like a chronograph, the date, a world time display, a coordinated universal time (UTC) display, and a race timer, make this watch one heck of a useful companion. It may look a bit passé at first glance, but trust me, it's been long enough: the '90s are cool again. Let your mullet down and enjoy it.

CITIZEN Promaster Sky World Time Eco-Drive Black Dial Men's Watch

This is a very affordable, entry-level pilot's watch that can challenge some field watch tropes to become a very current option. For those looking for a watch that could be many things to many people, this one's it. Pilot's watches and field watches prioritize legibility. Field watches tend to be much smaller and more discreet than aviation watches and are often fitted with robust cases that can take a serious beating. However, pilot's watches prioritize pure muscle and size over their more diminutive cousins.

Here we have a rather attractive option with Arabic numerals and world city rehaut around the outside of the dial. The hands are enormous and filled with luminous materials. The hardy 44mm wide, 12mm thick stainless steel case (water-resistant to 200 meters) looks able and ready to stand up to anything.

CITIZEN Automatic Blue Dial Titanium Men's Watch

And now for something completely different. The Citizen Automatic NJ2180-89L is a dressy number in ultra-modern titanium. Given the watch's more demure proportions (40mm wide by 12mm thick), this one should wear almost invisibly. However, it doesn't because this model (for the first time on this list) features an automatic movement!

The Citizen Caliber 8210 is an automatic movement (self-winding) with 21 jewels. It's Japanese-made and, when well-regulated, capable of performing adequate timekeeping performance. Best of all, however, is the fact this movement is protected by a Super Titanium skin.

All of Citizen's titanium cases are made from a space-grade type of hardened titanium dubbed "Super Titanium." It is approximately five times harder than regular steel (and 40% lighter, compensating for the presence of the movement within the case). Its hardness is 1,000 Vickers, which is about half that of sapphire. Impressive? Sure thing. For less than $300? It sounds like sheer madness…

CITIZEN Chronograph Eco-Drive Blue Dial Titanium Men's Watch

This is a slight curveball. This kind of watch is clearly in a different vein from those that have come before. It caters to a different kind of customer. It would suit a younger guy, perhaps someone into motorsports (particularly motorbike racing). It has a clear sporting look about it that resonates with a particular demographic that tends to lie somewhere just outside the regular watch "nerdiverse." If you're a watch guy or girl looking for a gift for a non-watch guy or girl, this one is my recommendation.

CITIZEN Promaster Black Dial Men's Watch

Now, this is the exact opposite. This is watch guy's watch. Specifically, this is a dive watch guy's watch. It is almost a caricature of the genre, but it does everything it attempts to do so well; it doesn't matter one bit if it comes off as a little cartoonish in some aspects.

This thing looks like it walked into a shuriken factory and started a fight with the samurai security. It measures 44mm wide, but it appears a good 6mm wider. Its enormous bezel surrounds a tiny dial that is only legible thanks to massive hour markers generously coated with lume. The added GMT function is a huge boon. It makes this watch so much more than a gimmick and transforms it into a seriously cool daily wear. The Eco-Drive caliber ensures it will never let you down when it comes to accuracy and charge also. All in all, a top buy for just $297 (43% below RRP) on Jomashop.com.

CITIZEN Eco-Drive Professional Diver Men's Watch

My favorite watch on this list is also the most expensive. Coming in one cent under budget, the Eco-Drive Professional Diver is more than just a bargain Citizen. It's a beloved classic diver, perhaps the best bang-for-buck proposition in the Japanese juggernaut's catalog, and a gorgeous watch to wear and admire.

Again, the vivid orange minute hand takes center stage and pops against its thick, steel surroundings. The massive 48mm case size is tempered by its lugless style, which means it sits very comfortably on the wrist.

There are lots of nice touches that make this watch a favorite of watch collectors and divers alike. The decorated case back, sporting the image of a diver's helmet is charming. The metal keepers on the long rubber strap speak of thoughtful design, excellent quality, and a complete lack of cost-cutting in the build phase. The "destro" (left-handed) crown is a professional quirk that makes this watch far more comfortable on the wrist. It also increases hand mobility noticeably (especially when you're dealing with 45mm watches).

1,000ft of water resistance (300m) is the kind of over-engineering you want from this kind of piece, and it does not disappoint. The other seven on this list are excellent options, but if I had $300 bucks to spend on a Citizen, I know where I'd be putting it. And, to be honest, it isn't even close.