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When looking for a top-performing EDC field watch on a budget, Citizen’s BM8180-03E is one of the first to come to mind.
Built with Citizen’s reliable Eco-Drive technology, the BM8180-03E is a rugged military-style field watch that will go well with any one of your outfits – from army fatigues to jeans, khakis, and all the way to a plaid kilt with bagpipes.
It’s small, lightweight, and easy to read. Couple that with it’s solar-powered cell and and army aesthetic and you’ll understand why thousands of people choose the BM8180-03E as their everyday carry timekeeper.
To see what all the hype was about, I decided to purchase this watch myself.
Here is my review after one month of wear.
You can use the table of contents below to jump ahead to relevant sections.
Overview of the Citizen BM8180-03E
I would recommend this watch to anyone who wants something higher-caliber than a $40 Timex or Casio.
In particular, it would make a great gift for anyone who has a cheap little watch that they’re proud of because it “cost nothing and it works so I don’t care.” They’re not going to buy it themselves, so it will be a great upgrade for them, and they’ll think of you every time they look at it.
The BM8180-03E is also a great choice for anyone who likes the military aesthetic. While many modern soldiers wear G-Shocks, the soldiers of the past wore analog styles very similar to this. It would go great with olive drab or khaki pants or an M65 field jacket.
Citizen Watch Company: Are They Legit?
Citizen Watch Co., Ltd. started in 1930, and is one of the best-recognized Japanese technology companies in the world. It’s a household name along with Seiko, Casio, Sony, and Toshiba.
Read Seiko vs Citizen: The Best Japanese Watchmaker
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Citizen specializes in making a lot of small electronic components like calculators, LCD components, and mini printers. They’re very innovative and a well-regarded watchmaker.
Citizen owns many other watch companies including Bulova, Frederique Constant, Arnold & Son, La Joux-Perret, and Companola. They range from very affordable (like this watch) to luxury and ultra-luxury timepieces; they have a range of products and lots of experience.
Citizen also owns Miyota – one of most-used watch movements in the world.
Overall, they’re a reputable watchmaker and electronics company that makes reliable products for both businesses and private consumers.
Citizen BM8180-03E Dial
The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up this watch is the dial. That’s the face of the watch under the crystal.
The dial of the BM8180-03E is very legible and easy to read. It has a classic military look without being over-tactical or try-hard. It’s simple, and you can tell the time at a glance.
Under direct sunlight, you can see the pie chart -esque photo-voltaic solar cell under the black part of the dial. It has a red-brown hue.
Hour and Minute Markers
The dial has white arabic hour markers contrasted against a deep black background. It also marks off the minutes (dashes and 5-minute increments are represented) for quickly getting all the information you could want about the time.
Overall, the style of the hour and minute markers (“indices”) conforms to the EDC military style. Many American field watches from WWII through Vietnam had a similar aesthetic; the BM8180-03E is a modern civilian reinterpretation.
The hands on this Citizen are an aggressive sword-style with a skeletonized lower portion. Aesthetically, they appear to point directly and sharply at the proper indices, and are a good choice for a field watch.
The seconds hand is a classic red arrow of time with a small white cutout for the lume. It ticks once per second in typical quartz watch fashion. The seconds hand lands precisely on the minute indices on my watch.
The date window tells you the day of the week and the date of the month. It’s a rounded rectangle that takes the place of the 3-o’clock hour marker, and it fits there quite well.
The date window is operated by the crown in position 1 (first pulled-out position). Turning it forward moves the day into the second language (Spanish), and then advances the day. Moving it backwards advances the date. This is typical functionality and works as expected.
The date wheel has a white background with black writing, which contrasts to the black dial with white markers. However, it’s easy on the eyes and gives you the proper information at a glance.
Lume on this watch is typical for a small field watch. It’s applied to the hour and minute markers and non-skeletonized part of the hands. It has a cool blue glow that looks very nice.
The lume is adequate, but don’t expect magic. It’s useful if going from the field into a dark latrine to keep track of the time for up to an hour. If you wake up at 4am in a sleeping bag under a dark sky after a full day of sunlight, you may be able to make out a faint glow with your dark-adjusted eyes.
Eco-Drive Movement and Accuracy
What is Eco-Drive?
Citizen is one of the biggest names in solar-powered watches. Eco-Drive is the name for their version of the technology, which usually includes a photo-voltaic cell underneath the dial.
The solar cell is charged directly through the dial, which powers a rechargeable battery. In contrast to traditional watches that need a battery replacement every few years, Citizen watches are known to keep ticking without the need for maintenance.
BM8180-03E Eco-Drive Specs
The Eco-Drive motto is “powered by any light” meaning both from the sun (natural light) and lightbulbs (artificial light).
At full charge, the BM8180-03E will keep ticking for about 6 months if you place it in a dark room. If you keep wearing it or leave it in the open, it will constantly self-recharge.
This Citizen will get to a full charge from empty in 12 hours of direct sunlight. One day of usage is the equivalent of 2 minutes in the sun, or 4 hours in an ordinary office.
If your watch isn’t ticking normally when you first get it, put it in the sun for about an hour. Don’t panic, it was probably in a dark box for a long time and got discharged.
Instruction Manual (download link)
Any watch will gain or lose time. Quartz watches like the Citizen BM8180-03E are much more accurate than mechanical watches.
You can expect an accuracy of +/- 15 seconds per month, meaning you will only have to reset the time a couple of times per year. That’s really good!
Citizen BM8180-03E Specs, Features, and Dimensions
At 37mm in diameter, this is the perfect-sized watch for most people. It’s actually on the smaller side for a modern watch but is still perfectly acceptable.
In the past, men’s (non-dive) watches used to range from 34mm-37mm, and today they range from 36mm-42mm. So the BM8180-03E is right in the middle, and is actually an acceptable size for both men and women.
The lug width is a standard 18mm size, which is a proportional width to the case size, and is one of the most common widths. Keep this in mind in case you want to put it on a leather strap to take the BM8180-03E to the next level.
At 9mm, this is a very thin watch, which is a very good thing for a field watch. It’s typical for a quartz watch, which range from 7mm-10mm, but automatics at this price point will usually range from 12mm-15mm.
The small size, thin profile, and light weight will make you forget it’s on your wrist.
The BM8180-03E is also very light. With the strap, I weight it in at 47.60g, which is 2-3 times lighter than most other watches.
Overall, it’s on the smaller side for a modern men’s watch, but I believe that Citizen nailed the dimensions perfectly. It manages to fit a minimalist military dial aesthetic into a relatively small space without crowding it or sacrificing legibility.
Citizen Watch for Men (Model: BM8180-03E)
$168.75 in stock
- LIGHT-POWERED ECO-DRIVE: Converts any light, whether natural or artificial, into energy. Energy is stored in a permanently rechargeable power cell. The watch recharges continuously in any light to run forever, with no battery changes required ever.
- WATER RESISTANT TO 100 M: This tactical watch is water resistant to 10 ATM (100 meters). In general, it’s suitable to wear in the shower, in professional marine activities like swimming and snorkeling, and in surface water sports, but not for scuba diving.
- FOR YOUR ACTIVE LIFESTYLE: This Citizen silver-toned military watch has a stainless steel case, canvas strap, adjustable buckle closure, three-hand analog display with quartz movement, luminous hands and markers, a day-date display window, and a dial featuring hour markers and a minute track.
- GUARANTEE & 5-YEAR WARRANTY: At Citizen, we stand by quality and craftsmanship. Every Citizen purchase comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 5-year limited warranty so you can be sure your new Citizen timepiece meets your expectations.
|Movement||Citizen Caliber Eco-Drive E100|
|Accuracy||+/- 15 sec per month|
|Case Size||37 mm|
|Case Thickness||9 mm|
|Lug Width||18 mm|
|Water Resistance||100m WR|
|Price||Check Price on Amazon|
Citizen BM8180-03E Construction
The case (steel part of the watch) is lightweight and simple, and the brushed finishes look and feel well-made. The polished surfaces on the sides of the case appear a bit plasticky but feel pretty good.
Given the light weight, small size, and thin profile I would not call this a rugged tool watch by any means. This watch should be protected against dings and scratches. If you want something to abuse, I would go for a G-Shock or a Seiko dive watch.
The crystal on the BM8180-03E is a scratch-resistant mineral crystal. This is to be expected on a watch at this price point, so it’s pretty typical. I haven’t scratched up any of my mineral crystals in recent memory, so it’s not a problem.
Here’s a quick test to see if mineral glass is too soft for you: is your phone screen cracked? If yes, I’d bet that this crystal is too soft for you. If not, you’re probably fine.
BM8180-03E’s Other Factors
The BM8180-03E has a water resistance rating of 100 meters. According to Citizen, this is sufficient for “swimming, showering, and snorkeling.” Be sure the crown is pushed in all the way if you do any of these.
The 100m WR is actually considerably better than the watch construction would suggest. Personally, I would not submerge any watch that has less than 200m WR. However, it’s good to know that this watch has quite a bit more resistance than expected.
The crown operation is pretty easy even if you don’t have any fingernails. It’s got a gnarled metal finish for easy gripping. It’s also protected by crown guards.
When pushed in all the way, you can turn it in either direction without affecting the watch. Setting the date and time is relatively pleasant, and I have no complaints.
The canvas strap is adequate. It’s a bit stiff when you first get it, so you’ll have to break it in. After a few hours of sweating with this watch on it should start to loosen up.
It’s not the most comfortable, but canvas straps usually aren’t. The band quality is in line with the rest of the watch. The olive drab color contrasts very nicely with the black dial for that military aesthetic, and that’s the most important part.
You can also easily remove the standard spring bars to put in your favorite 18mm NATO strap or leather strap to change up the aesthetic whenever you like.
Final Thoughts: Citizen Eco-Drive BM8180-03E
Overall I’m very satisfied with the BM8180-03E. It’s much nicer than many other watches that try to pull off the same thing, like Timex or Casio. It’s priced at a slight premium, but in return you get Citizen’s Eco-Drive technology that keeps this watch ticking.
Aesthetically, it pulls off the military look quite well. My one complaint is that it’s a bit predictable. That is to say, it doesn’t wow me with a new detail every time I look at it. It does what it does and nothing more. This is fairly typical for the price point.
I like the small size and light weight of the watch. Not feeling any heft at all makes it a great EDC accessory. When your loadout is already burdened by a knife, handgun, spare mags, wallet, flashlight, another knife, and keys, having something extra-lightweight and reliable like the BM8180-03E is pretty nice.