Hands-On With The Citizen NJ0150 — The Perfect Example How A Budget Doesn’t Limit Your Freedom
A serious case of instant appeal. Not every watch has it, especially not with a bigger audience. But when the series of three Citizen NJ0150 watches landed on Robert-Jan’s desk, everyone agreed that Citizen is on to something here. The immediate standout in the lineup is the yellow NJ0150. Its bright-colored dial takes center stage the moment you see all these models. But I have a feeling the more normal blue and black versions will be the big sellers. I decided to take them for a spin and see how good the NJ0150 really is.
It was only a couple of weeks ago when Robert-Jan called to inform me that my Tissot PRX Powermatic 80 had arrived at the office. I had to add that watch to my collection as it hadn’t left my mind since we had it in for review. Walking into the office all chirpy, I was immediately confronted with a box of new Citizen models. With the PRX in my hand, Lex told me to have a look at the box of Citizen NJ0150s on the desk. I have to say I was immediately impressed by the watches. As much as with my new PRX? Well, not quite, but what I saw looked good enough to check out thoroughly.
The hype surrounding bright colors
Robert-Jan wrote the introduction article for the yellow-dial version of the NJ0150 not too long ago. As he explained in the article, people were contacting him left and right about the watch. And I understand that completely. Seeing the watches for the first time, the yellow model stands out based on something as simple as color. Add the hype surrounding the Rolex Oyster Perpetual models with their colorful dials, and the NJ0150 was bound to create a reaction from fans of those watches. I always raise an eyebrow when something as simple as color creates hype. The fact that people jump on a watch based on a yellow dial sells both the Citizen N0150 and the Rolex Oyster Perpetual short. Unfortunately, that is the world we live in today.
But it’s time to leave the yellow-dial model behind us for a bit and focus on its siblings. While the yellow dial gets all the attention, I think most watch fans would opt for a black or blue dial. You see, even when the hype about a dial color dies down, it remains the primary memory attached to the watch. However, with blue-dial NJ0150-81L and black-dial NJ0150-81E, you are buying a timeless option that is not defined by its color. That is why I was happy to take these two watches for a spin.
The NJ0150 fits the 1970s mold perfectly
Let’s remind ourselves of what the NJ150 is all about. After first releasing the NJ0150 series only in Asia, Citizen recently decided to make it available in Europe as well. In my opinion, it was a very smart move. The model perfectly fits the popular mold of 1970s-inspired watches that we have seen make a comeback in the last few years. As Robert-Jan explained, an immediate stylistic reference for the NJ0150 is the Rolex Oysterquartz. Looking at the case shape, another reference is Citizen’s own Caliber 0200 (“The Citizen”) that I had the pleasure of reviewing last year. While that watch is a lot more expensive, it clearly shares a ’70s-inspired case shape.
This case has a diameter is 40mm, a lug-to-lug of 49mm, and a thickness of 11.7mm. The overall dimensions make the NJ0150 a perfect fit for wrists of many different sizes. A remarkable choice that Citizen made was to fit the watch with a President-style bracelet. As some of you already mentioned, it seems like a break in style. The sharp edges of the case seem to clash with the rounded shapes of the bracelet.
A definite Rolex influence
In reality, you will get used to the bracelet in combination with the case quite quickly. I am a big fan of the President bracelet, so seeing it on a different watch than a Day-Date always takes a bit of an adjustment for me. But after putting the NJ0150 on my wrist, my mind adapted in no time. The bracelet has brushed outer links and polished center links. I like the effect it gives off, but as RJ already mentioned in his review, the quality of finishing is not the best. But can you blame Citizen, knowing this is a €279 watch? I certainly can’t.
If we move on to the “face” of these models, you will see an unmistakable Rolex influence. Where the case might have an Oysterquartz feel, the dial design and crystal with its date magnifier definitely bring to mind the Datejust and Oyster Perpetual. Overall, what stands out is how large the dial is in proportion to the case. If you put the NJ0150 next to the Tissot PRX — which we will do in an upcoming Sunday Morning Showdown — you will see that the PRX is more refined overall. The NJ0150, on the other hand, is a bolder statement. It features a bigger dial with larger hour markers, and it has a brighter presence. Both the black and blue dials feature a sunburst finish that gives the watches a shiny appearance.
Do you need a date magnifier?
I have to say, I like the dial design. A big part of that comes from the fact that it feels so familiar. The double-baton markers at 6 and 12 o’clock remind me of the dial of the current Oyster Perpetual that I love. All of the indexes are filled with Citizen’s proprietary lume. Even the smaller marker next to the date window at 3 o’clock features lume for better readability in low-light conditions. What I am not quite sure about is the placement of the brand name in the upper portion and the word “automatic” on the lower part of the dial. By placing the brand name a smidge lower and the word “automatic” a little higher, I feel it would give the dial a bit more balance.
As you will have seen, the date is magnified by a “cyclops.” I am usually not the biggest fan of the famous Rolex Cyclops. The iconic date magnifier has become a feature much appreciated amongst Rolex fans, but I could usually do without one. For the NJ0150, I am still on the fence. Not necessarily because I have a newfound appreciation for the “cyclops.” No, it is more because it adds an element that breaks the overall presence quite nicely. It prevents the watch from becoming somewhat predictable or even boring. Would the date window alone have done the job? Quite possibly. But as the watch comes with a date magnifier, we won’t know for now.
The crown of the NJ0150 could be improved
What I do know is that the crown is frustratingly hard to use. It is placed between 4 and 5 o’clock and recessed in the case. But pulling it out takes quite a bit of effort if you don’t have long fingernails. In my book, it really is the biggest of the NJ0150’s few flaws. When setting the time and date, you don’t want to be bothered by a crown that is hard to operate. And at times, the crown did become just that. I like the recessed effect, but this is a case of style definitely defeating the purpose.
If you turn the watch around, you are greeted by a view of Citizen’s caliber 8210. This automatic movement operates at 21,600vph and delivers a 40-hour power reserve. As you can see, it is a basic movement that retains its original brass color. According to the brand, the accuracy is approximately ±20 seconds per day on average. As Robert-Jan mentioned, our timing device in the office confirmed that it performs just under +20 seconds per day on average. Especially considering the sub-€300 price tag, I don’t think that accuracy is too unreasonable.
Wearing the Citizen NJ0150
So what did I make of this new Citizen NJ0150 on the wrist? The combination of its stylish looks, spot-on dimensions, and great overall comfort make it a joy to wear. The first and only thing I had to get used to was the bracelet. The style of the bracelet is great, but the quality is what you would expect from a watch at this price. If you keep that context in mind, it will not disappoint you. This is a classic case of getting what you pay for. I, for one, had a blast wearing the NJ0150 models. As you might have read, I have a soft spot for jangly, rattly bracelets, so I never felt it was a problem that the quality was not the best. I actually think it’s part of the overall charm.
Because what the bracelet does perfectly is wrap itself comfortably around your wrist. It comes with a clasp that has two additional holes for micro-adjustment. After sizing the bracelet, you will quickly find out that the NJ0150 is a great affordable daily wearer. When it comes to my preference for the two dial colors, I give the blue-dial version a slight edge. It feels more alive and will have you looking at your watch more often simply for its aesthetics. On top of that, I think Citizen picked a nice shade of blue that works very well.
Final thoughts on the Citizen NJ0150
Overall, I was very impressed by the Citizen NJ0150. Despite clearly being inspired by different Rolex models, the watch does not suffer from “copycat syndrome”. On the contrary, though it clearly takes inspiration from The Crown, the NJ0150 does not pretend to be a Rolex. When you put the watch on your wrist, you will always know you are wearing a Citizen, and I mean that in the best way possible. The NJ0150 truly offers great comfort and style.
Additionally, the watch offers incredible value for money. To say the NJ0150 punches above its weight is an understatement. At €279, the watch is incredibly affordable. And under €500, there are not a lot of watches that can compete with the NJ0150 in terms of offering a total package of stylish looks and great comfort. The Timex M79 and some of the Seiko 5 Sports models come to mind, but the Citizen NJ0150 simply looks so much more expensive. It brings to mind the famous Seiko SARB033 that so many watch fans love and that grew into a cult classic. The new Citizen NJ0150 also has that same potential. While the watch is far from perfect, it does make for a perfectly affordable daily wearer for a little more than €250. And that is pretty damn impressive.
Have you had a chance to experience the NJ0150 yet, or are you looking to do so in the near future? If so, let us know what you think of it in the comments below!