Happy New Year, my dear Fratelli! I hope you have all had your fill of delicious food, good company, and perhaps even a cocktail or two. We find ourselves in the post-2021 hangover, and I, for one, am ready to get over this past year, hoping for 2022 to be a little bit brighter. Not that it was all doom and gloom, but I think we can all agree that 2021 was, globally speaking, a bit of a write-off. However, this year is already looking good, with the team here at Fratello getting ready to bring some amazing content your way. That said, let’s start with something a little… odd. Something from my early days of collecting. I’m talking about my Citizen Eagle 7.

It’s been a minute since I wrote about one of the watches in my personal collection. And I thought that I’d start the year off with the second Citizen currently in my watch box. The first, which I’ve already told the story of here, is my Citizen Promaster NY0040 dive watch. The other is a blue-dialed Citizen Eagle 7 from the early 1980s. One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2022 is to wear more of my watches. I usually tend to have two watches on my dresser that I keep wound and running. It’s these two watches that make up my rotation, though, for the most part, and I’ll only wear one of the two almost all the time. What I want to do is to open my watch box more often, and give the pieces inside more well-deserved wrist time.

Citizen Eagle 7

One watch that used to get much more wrist time, but which has since been abandoned in the box is my Citizen Eagle 7. Some of you may already be familiar with this watch, as it is a popular budget option for those new to watches. Perhaps a bit of a cult watch, the Eagle 7 offers plenty of bang for the buck. One can be had for well under €100 — mine set me back about €70 — and they are decently finished with almost unlimited variation out there. What most Eagle 7 models have in common is a 36mm stainless steel case and a proportionally long lug-to-lug of 44.5mm. Of course, I’m talking only about these “Datejust-style” models, as there were even a number of differently shaped iterations, including 37mm dive watches with a rotating bezel.

The Citizen Eagle 7 that I own has a plain bezel, as opposed to a fluted or dive bezel. The glossy deep blue dial has an applied Citizen logo at 12 o’clock, the Eagle 7 logo at 6 o’clock, and a day/date window at 3 o’clock. It also features a domed plexiglass crystal, which I do not believe is original to this model, but which adds a lot more character to the watch than the stock, flat mineral crystal. The applied markers, logos, date window frame, and silver hands shimmer in the light on the dark blue backdrop. An extremely jangly yet relatively stretch-free Jubilee-style bracelet makes this one extremely comfortable to wear. Other Eagle 7 models come on Oyster- or President-style bracelets, but for these 36mm models, this one is the best option.

As fun as it gets under €100

Now, the highlight here is the price for which you can find one. Admittedly, prices have gone up slightly since I bought mine a few years back, with them hovering at around €150–€175 for one in good condition. However, having had a quick look on the usual auction sites, I did find a couple for under €100 — including one with a silver dial and fluted bezel on the original jubilee for €75! Are these watches for people who have been into watches for a long time and own a number of luxury watches already? Probably not. But they are excellent watches for those who are just getting into the world of mechanical watches. The Eagle 7 is a true value proposition, and with the wide range of styles out there, there’s bound to be one that will catch your eye.

Inside these Citizen Eagle 7 watches, you find the Miyota 8200, a legendary workhorse movement that has been in production since 1974! As indicated on the dial, it’s a 21-jewel movement, with quick-set day and date indicators in two languages. The movement can be wound either by hand or by the unidirectional rotating weight, giving it 45 hours of power reserve at full charge. Not bad for a movement that’s been around for over 45 years. In terms of quality, these feel like older Seiko watches. They don’t scream quality, but they are solid enough, and their timekeeping is acceptable when properly regulated. The only weak point is the minuscule crown, which can be a bit fiddly to operate. It makes hand-winding the movement almost impossible.

Final thoughts

I’ll admit, I bought this watch to see how it would feel to wear a 36mm Rolex. And though it hasn’t really received a ton of wrist time in the last couple of years, it’s one that somehow has never left my collection. There’s something charming about it that keeps me coming back to it every so often for a day or two of wear. If it wasn’t for the aftermarket Plexiglass crystal, I don’t think it would have stuck around as long as it has. But then again, there’s a good reason why there is a cult following around these classic Citizen watches.

If you’re interested in finding out what they are like, I’d recommend picking one up. For the price, you really can’t go wrong. And if you already own one, you should absolutely try to source a fitting domed acrylic crystal. It changes the watch completely and makes it so much more interesting to look at. Last, but certainly not least, I’d love to hear your thoughts about the Citizen Eagle 7. Have you owned one before? Do you still own one today? What do you make of this quirky piece? Make sure to do a quick image search to see some of the seemingly endless variations out there!