Today, we bring you a treat. The beast in the flesh, the internet forum darling, the Citizen Ecozilla. The model for review is the BJ8040-01E, a large dive watch that makes you feel like an old-school diver from the minute it is strapped to your wrist. Lets review the stats:
- Dive watch rated to 300 meters (almost 1,000 feet).
- Titanium case.
- 6mm thick mineral crystal.
- Helium release valve.
- Uni-directional dive time bezel.
- 180 day power reserve.
- Citizen Eco-Drive solar quartz movement.
- Movement caliber: B873.
- 46mm wide and 18mm thick.
- MSRP: $595.
The Citizen Ecozilla (a nickname that combines the Eco-Drive name with an accurate poke at the watches gargantuan size) is a modern tool diver. Tool dive watches are not flashy, tech laden, or in any way concerned with the standard conventions of watch design. Tool divers are only concerned with being uncompromised dive watches. Citizen has created something of a frankenstein (in a good way) with this watch, mixing their highly successful Eco-Drive technology with the classic styling and build of a tool dive watch. The Ecozilla contrasts its large and unwieldy case with ultra light titanium, which makes the watch much more wearable then its looks alone would convey. I have to admit that I was not a fan of this watch from the moment I received it; it felt too big, clunky, and awkward (both physically and esthetically). That said, after giving the watch a few full days on my wrist, it grew on me in a profound way.
I want to resist any hyperbole when describing the size of the case. It is HUGE. It sits high on your wrist and if you have scrawny wrists like me, you will quickly get used to people commenting on the size of your watch. (See the included video and photos for a better view of the Ecozilla’s profile.) Putting the size aside, the fit and finish of the Ecozilla is great, and exactly in line with what we have come to expect from Citizen watches. The screw down crown is arguably the best I have ever used on a quartz watch. The tactile gnarled finish on the crown is matched with excellent threading and smooth action when screwing or unscrewing. The unidirectional bezel is easy to grip and smooth across its prominent “clicks.” Unfortunately, the crystal is mineral glass and not sapphire, though that does improve its shatter resistance.
Being a tool diver, the crystal is 6mm thick to ensure water resistance and it flat mounted just below the bezel.
The best feature of the watch is its luminosity; Citizen was not messing around when they painted the hands and markers on the Ecozilla. The lume glows brightly and for an almost absurd amount of time. The only comparison that comes to mind is the Seiko SKX779 “Monster” which is generally the gold standard for affordable dive watch luminosity. The Ecozilla easily glowed through an entire movie or a long night drive and seems to charge its paint quickly under sunlight. Legibility is obviously a priority on this watch; the large hands and markers are great for quickly glancing at the time.
The rubber strap is basic and in no way noteworthy. It is integrated into the case which made fitted rubber feel too tight coming out of the case and required backing off the buckle and leaving a space between the bottom of my wrist and the buckle itself. The watch comes packaged with an additional length of rubber to accommodate wearing with a wetsuit. There is a bracelet option but only on the stainless steel model and I cannot imagine the bracelet is worth giving up on the ultra light titanium on a watch of this size. The watch ships in a zippered faux leather case — standard citizen fare. I’m not sure why Citizen designed the Ecozilla without standard lugs but adapters can be found online to incorporate any strap with the Ecozilla.
The Eco-Drive solar quartz movement is both rugged and totally transparent from a usage standpoint. Like any good quartz movement once the time is set, you just wait for the battery to eventually die. You’ll likely be waiting a long time as the Eco-Drive caliber in this watch is advertised as never needing a new battery. The Eco-Drive movement uses a solar cell in the dial to charge a battery that will power the movement for an entire 180 days. It is a great piece of technology that suits any watch and it is one of Citizens best innovations.
As a dive watch, the Citizen Ecozilla has its bases covered. It has a high resistance to water pressure, an extremely legible dial set, and accurate and simple movement, and very good build quality. It is easy to see how the Ecozilla (and its big brother the Autozilla — an automatic version) garner such a considerable following online. After wearing it for a couple of days I had grown to love the “submarine” style of the case, the large hands, and the purpose-built design. Tool dive watches are intrinsically cool because they are generally not very flashy, they are designed to be bulletproof, and apologize for nothing. The Citizen BJ8040-01E Ecozilla is a deep sea beast with the manners of a watch that you could wear daily. Priced at $595 and available online for less, if you are in the market for a large tool diver, I cannot imagine the Ecozilla ever letting you down.
By James Stacey