More and more nowadays I find people around me wearing watches from fashion brands such as Armani, Guess and Michael Coors. They seem stylish enough, look good and serve a purpose, but my question is, how do they compare to watches of a similar price from companies known for their watches and not their designer brands?
I have spent some time over the past week putting my Citizen Eco-Drive up against the Tommy Hilfiger 1710381. First a little history on my Citizen, I got this watch for my 18th birthday and was given the choice between a Citizen or an Armani watch. Not knowing much about watches I decided to go for the Citizen as it was an “eco-drive” and because I’m lazy, it meant I wouldn’t have to change the battery whenever it died, how naive of me to think it would die. I sit here today 7 years later, the watch has never stopped ticking, I’ve taken it to 6 different countries, on hundreds of nights out and it was my daily driver until 2 years ago. With both the Citizen and the Tommy Hilfiger I found them on a popular English website for £175 each, now the citizen I found is a more modern version of mine as they no longer make my model.
Citizen is a globally recognised brand based out of Nishitōkyō, Japan. Known primarily for making watches, Citizen also owns the brands Bulova and Frédérique Constant. Starting in 1918 as the Shokosha Watch Research Institute it was renamed to Citizen in 1930. Since then Citizen has made several advancements in the world of horology including the atomic timekeeping watch which synchronised to the atomic clocks is accurate to within one second in a hundred years and is still to this date one of the most accurate watches you can buy.
Tommy Hilfigers History:
The Tommy Hilfiger brand is one of the most recognisable in the world. Starting in the 1980’s it has grown into a global symbol of fashion with the man himself Mr Hilfiger being valued at £400M as of 2019. Now even though it says Tommy Hilfiger on the watches, they are made by a company called Movado. Movado is an American watchmaker best known for its “Museum watch”. Founded in 1881 they officially became Movado in 1905 operating out of La Chaux-De-Fonds in Switzerland. Eventually being bought by American company the North American Watch Corp in 1983. Ever since then they have been putting out reasonably priced watches which you can get from most major retailers in the UK.
The Head to Head
I will be comparing these watches against three key areas: Aesthetics, Feel on the wrist and Usability. These are the areas I feel are important to the average watch user and for me what I base my watch buying decisions on.
The Citizen first, this has a metal bracelet with a clasp to easily snap onto your wrist. This has a dark grey face with a matte finish, stainless steel bracelet with gold accents along with the band and around the outside of the case. The hands are chrome and the marks for the times are chrome with white luminescent paint. This is a traditional chronograph watch, it has a 60-minute dial on the left, second dial on the bottom and 24-hour dial on the right. It also has two buttons on the side which are rectangular. Pressing the top button starts the big second hand on the watch turning it into a stopwatch and also starting the 60-minute dial on the left. It also has a small date window on an angle in between the bottom and right dials.
On initial handling of the TH, it’s a nice watch to look at with a black leather strap, black face with chrome hands and chrome numbers. It has a large second hand with an arrow on the end of it, it does tick quite loudly I must add. It’s a chronograph and has three smaller faces, a 24-hour dial on the left, a dial with the date on the bottom and a dial that shows the day to the right. It has two round buttons on the right-hand side for setting the day and date.
Feel on the Wrist:
Now this is a tough on for me as I have always been partial to a leather band, I find them more comfortable to wear and once you have worn the watch for a few weeks it shapes to your wrist, but that being said the citizen is a comfy watch to wear. The links in the band curve nicely on the wrist and it’s easy to get on & off with the clasp on the back. That being said the watch is quite heavy and after a while does get a bit tiresome to wear. It is easy to read the watch while doing things like driving and while writing.
The TH is almost the exact opposite of the Citizen, it has a traditional leather strap with a buckle to tighten to your preference and similarly does sit nicely on the wrist. The face of the watch is 44MM and I found this to be a bit large for my wrist but that was only a small inconvenience. When buying this watch I would be looking at changing this strap rather quickly though as I found it to be a little uncomfortable and compared with the leather straps on 2 of my other watches, this one seemed thinner and when tight dug into my wrist.
When it comes to my usability test I want to put these watches in real-world situations, not just take photos and wrist rolls. I want to see how they perform while doing everyday tasks like washing the dishes, driving my car, general wear and while using my laptop. As someone who is on the go a lot my choice of watch is key and it has to be able to compete for every day with these challenges.
Now, this is where this review gets a bit head to head. Both watches are quartz and have the same movement. The Citizen is heavier and that does become a factor after a while of wearing and you can change the band on it but the design of it is built into the body of the case so changing it would be tricky. That being said it is the Eco-Drive and from owning it for the past 7 years I can say it has never gone wrong, never stopped working and always been a reliable daily driver.
The TH is certainly a nice watch and very nice to look at. Being a chronograph with a day/date is certainly a feature I appreciate as well but through wearing it I found it hard to read sometimes as the hands don’t have luminescent paint on them. The face of the watch is also quite shiny as well so in bright conditions & low light can make it difficult to read clearly. The day/date as well is very small and with having such a limited space to fit so many digits it can feel a little cramped.
Pros for the citizen:
- Well-known brand
- Brilliant quality and reliability
Cons for the Citizen:
- Heavy on the wrist
- Can’t change the band
- The date window is on a funny angle and can be hard to read
Pros for the Tommy Hilfiger:
- Great looking
- Day/Date function
Cons for the Tommy Hilfiger:
- Hard to read in low light
- Smaller dials hard to read
- Strap very thin
After Dinner Thoughts:
Through conducting this test I have wanted to be 100% fair when comparing the two watches. After much thought for me personally, there is a clear winner and it’s the Citizen. Now, this isn’t the point where I will sit and say not to get the Tommy Hilfiger, that is entirely your preference but if I had £175 to spend on a watch my money would go to the citizen. I felt the build quality was better, apart from it being a little on the heavy side it’s a great daily driver and an excellent intro into the world of watches. The Tommy Hilfiger is a nice watch in its own right and for a general everyday watch is great, but issues with being able to read it while doing things like driving & writing on my laptop and the strap being very thin are what pushed me more towards the Citizen.
I set out in this review to see if a fashion brand watch could compete with a well-known watchmaker. The answer to my question is yes, but for price and quality, I will always stick to a true watchmaker, over a fashion company that happens to have watched.