The 2013 Citizen Eco-Drive AP4000 offers a nice combo of a high-grade, solar-powered quartz caliber packed inside a well-designed, comfortable-looking body that will probably fit just about any wrist even despite its generous size.
Mechanically, this is still the same Citizen Alterna Pilot Eco-Drive (ref. VO10-6832T) “pilot” that was first presented more than three years ago. It is still powered by their in-house Eco-Drive caliber 8637 quartz movement, which is charged using a tiny photovoltaic cell. Being a high-grade caliber, it features such useful functions as insufficient charge warning and overcharge prevention. What is nice about this mechanism is that it is equipped with a pretty big battery that can store enough energy for the timepiece to run for as long as 6 months if fully charged.
Yet, the AP4000 wears a new, more civilian-looking skin with a more classic dial decor.
It also comes in a considerably larger body measuring 45 millimeters in diameter (being just 10 millimeters thick, it is also more slender than the older watch). If you compare the two timekeepers, you will also notice a new design of its setting crown, which is now protected from shocks with a pair of crown guards.
The choice of size is a bit strange to me since, featuring a more classic, dressier exterior, the watch looks like it was supposed to be worn with a formal suit or, at least, something more casual than a bomber jacket or M65 parka.
Also, you will possibly need to have twenty pounds more than an average person for this gadget to feel home on your hand. I mean, it is really big.
The rest is more or less the same. It still features a completely identical dial layout with a date and day of week indicators placed at 12 and 9 hours respectively. However, its 24-hour second time zone display now sports an easy to read day/night indicator.
I don’t get this diving scale-style accent on the minute track from 12 to 3 o’clock. With a water resistance rating of just 100 meters, the piece is not suitable even for snorkeling, not to say real diving. One could argue that the scale could be used as a rudimentary timer, but the chapter ring is fixed, so it is possible that it is here purely for cosmetic reasons.
While Citizen offers this watch at less than €200 (the MSRP is just $265), you can still find the watch online at two-thirds of the price, which makes it a fairly nice choice for a person looking for an entry-level solar powered timekeeper with sporty, energetic design.
The navy blue textile strap (pictured) that the watch originally comes on, looks fine, but you will possibly need to change it soon for some quality steel bracelet or a good NATO strap, so bear this in mind when calculating your budget.
The only thing that may put some people off here is the central second hand. It may be personal, but I find the way it moves extremely annoying. For a timekeeper that is animated by a quartz mechanism, the seconds hand gets way too much attention. Too bad you can’t put it on a small sub-dial.
Build quality: 4/5
Value for money: 4.5/5
Citizen EcoDrive AP4000 specification
Movement: Quartz, Citizen Eco-Drive caliber 8637, Made in Japan
Power reserve: 6 months
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, day of week
Case: Stainless steel / Black ion plated steel
Size: 45.00 mm
Case height: 10.00 mm
Lug width: 24.00 mm
Dial: Blue / Brown
Hour markers: Luminous
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Nylon NATO-style strap in indigo blue or khaki with metal buckle