Hands-On: The Entry-Level Citizen CA4560-81L Eco-Drive Chronograph
When we started discussing the Citizen CA4560-81L Eco-Drive Chronograph in the office, we talked about who this watch would be for. It’s an interesting discussion. Would this be someone’s only timepiece? Or would people who are looking for affordable options add this as a second or third watch to their collection? Either way, the Citizen CA4560-81L is a great potential daily wearer for those looking for a reliable and affordable chronograph with some nice design quirks. Let’s check them out.
Straight out of the box, this Citizen CA4560-81L Eco-Drive Chronograph is a substantial watch. Both in size and weight, it lets you know that it’s there. It almost felt a bit daunting with all the smaller watches we see today. Having said that, there is plenty to discover. Some of the design details that immediately stand out are the “digital” chronograph counters, the thin electric-blue lines, and the 24mm lug spacing. These are just some of the many details that the watch unveiled when I took it for a spin.
The specifications of the Citizen CA4560-81L
Let’s start with some basics. The watch comes with a substantial 44.8mm stainless steel case that is 12.3mm thick and water resistant to 100 meters. The diameter makes this a large watch. And usually, with large chronographs, the balance of the dial can become an issue. But Citizen has made clever design choices that make this watch look neatly balanced. As you can see, the blue dial features a lot of elements. But the crucial element that makes this dial design work is the tachymeter scale on the dial’s periphery. It is rather wide, making the inner dial part with the hour and minute markers, chronograph counters, and date indication much smaller.
By making it this way, Citizen has avoided the chronograph counters looking too close together in relation to the overall dial. Because if you look closely, you will see the smaller counter at 6 o’clock is not a proper circle. The designers have “pushed it up,” so it becomes a dented circle, and it leaves room for the 6 o’clock marker. It’s a quirky little detail that made me smile rather than annoy me.
A rather intricate, well-balanced dial design
Another one of those fun details is the typography that Citizen chose for the tachymeter and counters. It is the typical segmented font that you would see used on a digital clock. I like this quirky choice of font type because it is different and reminds me of the clocks on my nightstand when I was a young boy. As you can see, the inner part of the dial also has a detailed texture, as does the tachymeter ring. This gives the watch extra depth and ensures that the dial is detailed and proportioned well for such a big watch.
The handset is rather straightforward, but the hour and minute hands stand out due to their contrasting white color and substantial size. The central chronograph seconds hand is executed in light blue, corresponding with the dial’s marking and the blue ring on the outer part of the dial. The counters have silver edges with circular grooves, while the inner part is a dark gray with vertical graining. Overall, I have to say that it is quite remarkable to see the level of detail of the dial. Both in design and in structure and fishing, it is quite intricate. Knowing that this watch is only €229, it becomes even more impressive.
The large case and bracelet of the Citizen CA4560-81L
A case of this size needs a good bracelet to balance out the watch on the wrist. This watch has that, and once again, the level of detail for the price is pretty impressive. What I love about the bracelet is that it is 24mm wide at the lugs, ensuring it can easily balance the 44.8mm case. On top of that, the bracelet tapers nicely, so it doesn’t feel overly chunky.
Another detail is that the case is 12.3mm thick, and that works well compared to the diameter. The push-pull crown and the chronograph pushers are also well proportioned and easy to use. Overall, the build quality feels sturdy and good for the price. When it comes to the bracelet, the clasp is its Achilles heel. What can you expect for this kind of money?
It’s always a tough one because so many brands are struggling to offer the quality they want to see. This stamped folding clasp is simple and feels utilitarian. It is nothing special; it will do the job, and that’s it. I don’t consider it a problem, but it wasn’t impressive.
The Citizen B620 Eco-Drive movement
Citizen equips this watch with its in-house Eco-Drive caliber B620. This movement will run for 270 days when fully charged and placed in the dark. Thanks to Citizen’s impressive Eco-Drive technology, you don’t need batteries because the watch uses light to charge the movement. When it comes to accuracy, Citizen states the movement has a deviation of ±15 seconds per month. As I mentioned, the movement features a date function, which sits at four-thirty, and it has a 60-minute chronograph and a 24-hour indicator.
Wearing the Citizen CA4560-81L
Once on the wrist, the watch wears nicely. As a big guy, I can pull off the size perfectly. The watch might be too overwhelming if you have smaller wrists, but trying it out is always the best way to see whether you like a watch. In this case, it is no different.
Playing around with the chronograph turned out to be a nice experience. The pushers work well, and with a firm click, you start, stop and reset the chronograph. All of the sub-dials are easy to read thanks to the digital font, and the crown is also easy to pull out thanks to its size. As expected, the first position changes the date, and the second position changes the time. It all works smoothly and intuitively.
Final thoughts on the Citizen CA4560-81L Eco-Drive Chronograph
I have to say that I didn’t really know what to make of the Citizen CA4560-81L when I first saw it. But when I zoomed in on the details and wore the watch for a bit, I quickly started appreciating it for what it is. The watch has plenty of character in its case, bracelet, and dial design. The size might scare some people, but it was not a problem for me. And if you are in the market for a large, reliable chronograph for €229 that you can wear daily, this could be a perfect pick. You just have to be able to pull the size off and like the design.
Would this be my pick at this price point? To be honest, Citizen offers so many great options that I would gravitate more toward some of the other models in its collection. A good example is the four new Citizen ME Series models that Robert-Jan wrote about. But this is just a personal preference, and it’s also a completely different watch. If anything, this Citizen CA4560-81L Eco-Drive Chronograph shows the great diversity and value for money that Citizen offers its customers, and that deserves great respect.
For more information, check out the official Citizen website.