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The launch of Citizen Eco-Drive in 1996 was a game changer for the brand and set a new global benchmark for light powered watches. This was revolutionary technology that used clean energy and eliminated the damage to the environment caused by disposable batteries - a highly efficient and long-lasting power cell that could be recharged by any light source - sunlight, moonlight … even candlelight.

Never Change a Battery – So What?

It can be very frustrating when your watch battery runs out, then there is the inconvenience to have it replaced. If it happens to be a diving watch or watch that is water resistant to 100 metres, then it is even more troublesome. After changing the battery, these watches must be pressure tested and more often than not the pressure seals will have to be replaced; adding to the cost. If you fail to do so and go for a swim, then there is a good chance your watch may never work again, and you can kiss the warranty goodbye.

Small but Dangerous

Watch batteries are small and although they appear harmless, when it comes to the environment they are anything but. Watch batteries like all other batteries they are typically disposed of in landfill and the toxic chemicals they contain such as mercury and lithium can leach into the soil. Considering the number of watches in the world, it does not require much imagination to realise the danger they pose when buried. This was a key issue in the rationale behind the decision to use the Eco-Drive name.

Attracting New Consumers

Eco-Drive filled a market gap and provided the opportunity to attract aspirational consumers, those with more disposable income who aspire to own a more sophisticated timepiece but were unable to afford a Swiss watch. As well as having more money, they are better educated, more demanding and perhaps more cynical. These are not mass market consumers and given watches are no longer necessary to tell time, considerable thought is required to determine the best way to gain their interest.


When the first models arrived, I was shocked to discover the gift box packaging was made from polyurethane. Despite the fact this was at odds with the environmental credentials of the watches, the leadership team in Japan were unconcerned and the existing global manufacturers of Citizen gift boxes showed no interested in finding an alternative.

Through research we located a factory in Thailand that had just commenced manufacturing cardboard watch gift boxes made from recycled paper for the Omega brand. A few trips to Bangkok and 6 months later we successfully launched new giftbox packaging for both the Eco-Drive (green with silver print)) and Promaster (black with silver print) Collections. While the cylinder shape was retained for men’s watches, a green pillow box with silver ribbon was introduced for ladies. The move won the praise of retailers and it was not long before the giftboxes we designed where adopted by the Company for worldwide use.

Why all the Fuss?

The fact is, more than 70% of watches are purchased as gifts. Anything a brand can do to improve or enhance the gift giving experience can have a direct influence on sales.


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