Sunday, June 30, 2013

Review: Citizen BM8180-03E Men's Eco-Drive Watch

Citizen BM8180-03E Men's Eco-Drive Watch
Citizen BM8180-03E Product Link
A watch is something that most of us wear every day. At least I do. And one of the problems with collecting them is all the battery changes. That is what I like about the Eco-Drive, and I've always liked Citizen, so this watch as a no-brainer for me. I have a few upscale watches and I have a few thrasher watches, but I was looking for something in between the two, so I ordered this one from Amazon with our Prime account. The price was 87 bucks.

Product Description

On paper, this is almost the perfect EDC watch. It's made by a respected watchmaker, it's solar powered, and it's waterproof with a strap type band. Citizen touts the Eco-Drive line as never needing a battery. In reality it  uses a battery internally to store the charge from the solar cell, so it will need a battery someday, just not for a really long time.

Official Specs (From Amazon)

Brand, Seller, or Collection NameCitizen
Model numberBM8180-03E
Part Number013205070013
Model Year2011
Item ShapeRound
Dial window material typeMineral
Display TypeAnalog
Case materialStainless steel
Case diameter37 millimeters
Case Thickness9.00
Band MaterialCanvas
Band lengthmens
Band width18 millimeters
Band ColorGreen
Dial colorBlack
Bezel materialStainless steel
CalendarDay and Date
Special featuresLuminous
MovementJapanese quartz
Water resistant depth330 Feet
Warranty typeContact seller of record

Setting The Time

To set the time, pull the crown out one click to set the day or date, and two clicks to set the time. With the crown pulled out one click, turn it clockwise to set the day of the week and counter-clockwise to set the numeric date.


The dial features nice, high-contrast white markings on a black background. It's my favorite part about the watch since I'm getting older and it's harder to read a watch without my reading glasses. The dial also has tick marks for the seconds. I'm not a big fan of the tick marks but it doesn't bother me that much since the hour numbers stand out so well. There's a window at 3 O'Clock which shows the day and date.

Citizen BM8180-03E Men's Eco-Drive Watch: Closeup Of Dial
Citizen BM8180-03E Men's Eco-Drive Watch: Closeup Of Case Back
Citizen BM8180-03E Men's Eco-Drive Watch: Closeup Of Crown
Citizen BM8180-03E Men's Eco-Drive Watch: Closeup Of Case And Band


This model uses the typical Citizen high quality Japanese Quartz movement. The only twist is that it uses a solar cell with a small internal battery instead of having a disposable battery that needs to be replaced often.

Because the hour markers are inset, the hands are abnormally short, which looks fine at first glance but takes some getting used to day to day. In my opinion, some of the benefit of having high-contrast markers is lost by making the hands shorter.

The second hand is red, with a bit of luminescent material at the tip so you can see it in the dark. Some users have reported that the second hand does not line up with the tick marks when it ticks, but mine seems lined up perfectly.

The date window shows the day of the week (Sunday in red) and the date. It also features alternating days of the week in Spanish, which is a pain because you have to turn past the ones you don't want. I wish they just made separate English and Spanish versions as it's an inconvenience for users of both languages.


This watch uses a good quality luminescence material, which makes it easy to read in the dark. It's

Making the numbers glow is a nice touch
fairly liberal with the material on the hour and minute hands, and has a little taste at the tip of the second hand, too. The shorter hands don't make it ideal to read in the dark, but they compensated by putting significantly more material on the minute hand. What I've found is that it's not quite as intuitive as some other watches to read at first glance in the dark.


This is a sub $100 watch with a high quality movement, so they had to cut corners somewhere. The stainless steel case is decent but still budget. The crown also feels a little cheap. We will see how it stands up over time. Overall the case appears to be perfectly adequate.


Citizen BM8180-03E Men's Eco-Drive Watch: Closeup Of Canvas Band
Just about the only reason most reviewers have taken off a star is because of the canvas band. They are right, the band is awful. It's too stiff, it retains water, and the rivets are not only hideous but uncomfortable as well. However, the band isn't a deal breaker. I knew its shortcomings before I bought the watch and factored that into my purchase. I am still deciding on a new band, but it will probably be nylon or possibly leather. Even if you factor the cost of a new band, this watch is still a good deal. This cut corner can be replaced.


I like this watch and I'm happy with my purchase, but it's not as easy to read without my glasses as I thought it would be. But overall, the excellent Eco-Drive movement makes up for the few annoyances I have. It's a sharp looking watch with clean lines. It is currently sharing EDC duties with the Seiko Automatic 5 which I bought at the same time.

I've gotten the watch wet a few times, and so far none of the reported problems with the band smelling. Maybe because I set it out to dry before I wear it again. That's OK, the canvas band is getting replaced soon.


The packaging is fairly standard for a Citizen watch.

Citizen BM8180-03E Men's Eco-Drive Watch: Box, Top View

Citizen BM8180-03E Men's Eco-Drive Watch: Box, SKU View

Citizen BM8180-03E Men's Eco-Drive Watch: Box, Bottom View

Citizen BM8180-03E Men's Eco-Drive Watch: Decorative Box

Citizen BM8180-03E Men's Eco-Drive Watch: Decorative Box, Top View


Citizen BM8180-03E Men's Eco-Drive Watch, Shown With Seiko SNK807 Automatic 5
EDC Friends: Seiko SNK07 Automatic with Citizen BM8180-03E Eco-Drive

Citizen BM8180-03E Men's Eco-Drive Watch, Shown On Wrist

Citizen BM8180-03E Men's Eco-Drive Watch, Shown With Oakley Shades, Maxpedition Wallet, iTP flashlight and Spyderco Native Pocket Knife
A nice watch is a part of any well balanced EDC diet

From Left: Tag Heuer Link, Citizen BM8180-03E, Casio Cheapie
The Citizen fills a middle role between dress up and yard work

Citizen BM8180-03E Men's Eco-Drive Watch, Shown Next To Ruler

Citizen BM8180-03E Men's Eco-Drive Watch, Shown On Scale
Definitely lightweight, which is a plus for me


  1. Stumbled upon your review while looking for a replacement strap for my own one of these watches. I think you did a pretty good first review.

    You may have discovered by now that the watch strap breaks in over time, although mine has lost some of the leather after I think 6 years. I also like the rivets actually. My version seems to have the days in French, rather than Spanish (this may be an EU thing, since I assume yours is the American version).

    I'm only looking for a new strap as it's beginning to wear and fray (has been for the last year or so), but it stood the first 4 years of daily use well, and I'm looking forward to many more years out of the watch.

  2. The watch uses a lithium ion battery that is capable of accepting the charge from the solar cell. If one were to replace the cell with a regular watch battery which is NOT chargeable, one would no longer have an eco drive watch in good working order;)

  3. thanks for the review but how do you change the band?

  4. I just bought one off these - I love the great outdoors and was looking for something a bit less bulky than my G shock, I like simples and this watch ticks all the boxes - no maintenance, no batteries, rugged and reliable and so far VERY accurate. Tip for you and anyone else - to soften the strap up warm the strap gently then smear a bit of little dubbin in on the leather inner side. Gently rub a small amount of the dubbin into the strap and just leave overnight, wipe off any excess. It will soften the strap and make breaking it in a little easier

  5. Hello, I have this same watch. Maybe I am OCD but I like it when the second hand is on the 12 that the minute hand is on the minute graduations. This watch is almost impossible to get them to sync. I guess you get what you pay for.

  6. Try and 18 mm Zulu strap. You'll love it.