Citizen has really found a market with their Eco Drive watches and its strong foothold lends to making some of the best quartz watches out there in terms of value, accuracy, craftsmanship and aesthetics. The Nighthawk BJ7000-52E boasts exceptional value for the money and it’s a great watch to add to your collection if you want a bold, unique looking piece without the fuss of a mechanical movement.
The dial has all of the characteristics of a pilot watch, from the slide rule bezel to the sword hands, with some exclusive extras thrown in that make the watch fun to wear. It is busy but bold and three-dimensional, which promotes legibility. At any given time you’re looking at the watch, depending on what you’re looking for (there are a lot of functions here), the right information always stands out. Much like the Omega Speedmaster Professional, this watch offers such high contrast in the dial and hands that it’s hard to not take a second look when you see it on someone’s wrist. The large white applied indices and hands pop out from the black dial and draw you in where you then notice the tiny markings on the bezel and the fourth 24-hour GMT hand, both ends shaped like tiny airplanes. At first, I imagined the airplane hands would be too childish such as to take away from the seriousness of the watch (because, you know, watches are serious business!), but they’re hardly noticeable unless you’re looking for them and the playfulness they add is equally as subtle. Of course, the battery charges in the sunlight, but so do the indices, and with a modest charge they glow a beautiful blue for night time readability.
A subtle detail I noticed is that the luminous markers are surrounded by a thin border of polished steel, and one of the markers always seems to catch the light so the dial sparkles. Great design choice, in my opinion.
I’m on the fence about the date. On the one hand, it seems sunken like a bad Chinese replica watch’s date might look if you saw one on Canal Street. On the other hand, it’s not a mark of poor quality seeing as how the date is legible and perfectly aligned in the window, and it adds to the three-dimensional feel. While the indices and the hands protrude from the dial and produce a sense of relief, the date window adds depth to the watch’s face.
For those that care (I do), the second hand hits every second with perfect alignment against the markers. I hear that Citizen has technology that is able to self-correct for this, but I cannot say for sure if that’s true or if I’m just lucky with this particular watch.The Nighthawk seems like a durable watch to me. It sports a hefty 43mm x 12mm case that likely wears bigger than most seeing as there isn’t much of a steel bezel to this one. While this is a pilot’s watch, it’s water resistant to 200 meters with a screw-down crown for the time adjustment, and a fairly anti-reflective mineral crystal will probably take a decent beating before getting ugly. The chinese made bracelet features brushed links that taper from 22mm to 18mm with a signed Citizen deployment clasp with foldover safety lock.
Crowns aren’t usually something I can get excited about, but in the case of the Nighthawk, they’re something to laud. The crown for adjusting the time is a screw-down, and the texture on the crown makes it a snap to turn. This is probably my favorite “crown experience” ever. The other crown rotates the internal slide rule and is also remarkably easy to operate given the crown’s texture.
Finally, while reading the time on this watch is pure joy, I cannot say the same for setting the time. I did have to read the manual to figure it out, but once I did it wasn’t so bad, and I don’t think I’d have to reach for it again if I needed to adjust the time in the future. You can set the 24-hour hand, the little airplane hand, to your current time for 24-hour format or set to another timezone if you like. I love the independently adjustable hour hand–I can certainly get used to that!
I’d recommend the Citizen Nighthawk BJ7000-52E to collectors new and old alike. It’s an affordable hassle-free piece while at the same time it represents something to more seasoned collectors who focus mostly on mechanical watches. As someone who falls into the latter camp, I find that a quartz watch needs to be interesting to me in order to get a spot in the stable, and there is no question whether the Nighthawk meets the criteria as an interesting watch.