If you're a watch enthusiast, you must have a solar-powered piece for your collection to be truly complete.
Although they're a bit less technical than mechanical watches, these solar timepieces still use amazing technology. Also, they're usually more eco-friendly than your average quartz watch, and they're super easy to maintain.
If you don't have a solar watch yet, you should definitely start by getting the leading brand: Citizen's Eco-Drive collection.
In this review, you will get to know the Citizen Corso Eco-Drive. This is a super versatile piece that still runs perfectly after 10 years of ownership. Let's get into it!
As you can see in the picture below, the Citizen Corso is perfectly sized for someone with smaller wrists like mine (6.25''). It's in that size range where it's small enough for a dressy outfit, but it also looks good with casual wear.
However, the 39mm case diameter can be a bit misleading. As you can tell, the Citizen Corso has an unusual case shape (flat edges at top & bottom, overlap between case sides & bezel).
The case size will vary depending on where you place your caliper. In my opinion, this Corso wears about as big as my Seiko SNK807, which is a 37mm watch. What makes this watch wear small is mostly the curvature of the lugs.
Not only are the lugs heavily curved, but the case is also extremely flat thanks to the slim quartz movement inside. These two factors combined make for a very comfortable wearing experience. Indeed, the Citizen Corso is one of those watches that you'll forget is on your wrist after a few minutes.
100m / 10 bar
316l Steel Jubilee
The Miyota E101 solar-powered quartz movement is definitely one of the best selling points of the Citizen Corso. I think the term "solar-powered" is a bit loosely used here since any type of lighting will charge up your watch.
These Miyota movements are known to have around 6 months of power reserve. So, unless you keep it stored in a dark box for several months, it will keep on running just fine. Not only is the power reserve quite large, but the movement itself is also extremely durable.
For instance, the model pictured in this review (BM8400-50a) has been bought in early 2010. Even after 10 years of constant use, the movement still charges up and keeps on ticking just fine.
The Miyota E101's accuracy is comparable to most entry-level quartz calibers (+-15 seconds/month). However, this solar-powered variant is more eco-friendly than your average quartz movement. Indeed, the rechargeable battery inside this piece will last upwards of 25-30+ years according to Citizen.
Compared to regular quartz movements, which need a battery change every 3-7 years, the solar-powered E101 is much better for the environment. While the battery itself lasts a long time, the capacitor will most likely break before that. However, this is a $15-20 component that can be replaced easily.
As I said above, the watch reviewed today is 10 years old. If you're familiar with mineral crystals, you will certainly know that they can show quite a bit of wear & tear throughout the ownership of the watch. This Citizen Corso is no exception to the rule.
It's kind of hard to capture in a photo, but my Corso's crystal has its fair share of scratches. Fortunately, these scuffs are only visible at a certain angle under bright lighting. In most situations (including looking head-on at the watch), it still looks good.
I can't really complain about this component because sapphire crystals on $200 watches are extremely rare. However, I must say that a hardened mineral crystals like Seiko's Hardlex would've probably been better for longevity.
With 100m of water resistance, the Citizen Corso shouldn't have a problem with recreational swimming. However, I bought this one on the pre-owned market, so I always avoid swimming with such a watch unless I changed the gasket myself.
Also, I never recommend taking your watch for a swim if it's equipped with a push-pull crown. Although it doesn't happen too often, there's always a chance that you accidentally pull out the crown underwater, which would ruin the movement.
With the Corso being a cross between dressy and casual, Citizen tried to apply just the right amount of lume. This translates to a thick layer of lume on the hands, but absolutely no lume on the indices.
Although the lume is great and still glows brightly after 10 years out of the factory, the lack of lume pips is a bit disappointing. Indeed, the lume helps to read the time in a darker setting, but you only get a very approximate reading.
However, I must say that the bluish color of this phosphorescent is very refreshing compared to the usual bright green on other affordable watches.
The Citizen Corso's bracelet can be both great or a complete dealbreaker depending on your preferences.
It's good in the sense that it has a nice finish (chamfered edges, comfortable jubilee styling, signed clasp, etc..), but it comes with one major flaw.
The bracelet is integrated into the Corso's case, which means you cannot swap it for anything else. As I said, this will be a complete dealbreaker if you're the kind of collector that enjoys using different leather or nylon straps for different occasions.
On the other hand, if you don't mind the inflexibility of an integrated bracelet, this jubilee bracelet is great. Thanks to its fluid shape and half-links adjustments, it can be worn very comfortably.
Overall, the Citizen Corso is a truly versatile watch that can either be dressed up or down. Indeed, this is a watch that I'm comfortable wearing with a formal outfit, but it will also have its place in a jeans & t-shirt outfit.
The indices definitely play a big part in boosting the Corso's classiness. The hour marks have a simple baton shape, but their highly-polished finish is super elegant. In fact, you can literally see your face in the reflection of this polish.
Also, the hands are applied to the dial, and they have quite a thick build. This makes for a dial with a lot of depth. Not only do the indices pop out, but the dial itself is also gorgeous.
The gray dial has subtle hints of a sunburst pattern, which will let out a bit of a greenish hue. When you get closer to the dial, you can see that there's also a grainy texture, which also adds depth to this Corso.
While the sword hands may look a bit simple and dull at first, they play a great part in making the Corso an understated watch. For instance, they share the same highly-polished finish as the indices, and their large size allows for lots of lume application.
What's great about this lume is that it has a pearl white color during daytime, instead of a yellowy shade like most other cheaper lume formulas.
The case and bezel also have a polished finish, which adds to the dressiness of the Corso, but also makes it quite a scratch magnet. As I mentioned earlier, the shape of this case is quite peculiar & polarizing. I personally like it because I think it adds a casual vibe to an otherwise very dressy watch.
When you flip the watch around, you can see the plain & simple case back with absolutely no markings. This is something that's pretty rare on modern watches, and I absolutely love it. In fact, I think there's never a need for big gimmicky logos or tons of useless scripts.
Unfortunately, the model reviewed in this article has been discontinued a few years ago by Citizen. However, the company still sells almost identical models (the new ones only have a date display,and the indices are changed a bit).
For around $230, I think the Citizen Corso is a bit overpriced for what it offers. While it's an excellent watch, I would only consider picking it up if heavily discounted, or if you can find one for cheap on the pre-owned market.
Let me know in the comments below if you think the Citizen Corso is worth its full retail price.
This Post Has One Comment
I have the exact watch except it has a blue dial face BM8400-L50. I found this watch in a box and it had probably been there for 7 or 8 years. It only had a broken clasp and a small chip on the crystal and I couldn’t find a watch repair shop that would repair it. I Had left it out on a table and believe it or not it started working. I bought this watch when I worked on cruise ship 15 years ago. I really want to get it a new crystal and band clasp. Citizen on sells the watch band and links. Esslinger has clasps that will work but I don’t know what the crystal size is. Do you know what size crystal I should order for that watch. I of course will take it to a professional for the repair work but if I could get the parts ahead of time it will save me time and hopefully money. Thank you for you time and very professional review.