If you read this blog regularly, you know I write a lot of movie reviews. Many of the movies I watch are cheesy superhero flicks that you have to turn your brain off to enjoy. But can the same thing be done with a watch? The Citizen Tsuyosa NG0151 is a watch that asks that very question.
Let me explain what I mean.
At a glance, it is a perfectly cromulent watch. The dial gives it a Rolex OP vibe, the integrated bracelet gives it a Genta-esque PRX vibe, the mediocre bracelet and 4 o’clock crown give it a Japanese watch vibe. I’m being a bit facetious on that latter point because in truth the president style bracelet is quite handsome. It’s a very legible watch thanks to the clean dial, lumed baton hands, and tastefully small cyclops for the date complication. Even more impressive is the handsome display caseback with the gold-plated rotor and nicely decorated in-house 8210 movement. The specs are the biggest weakness (more on that below) but most casual users won’t care much about that. With a variety of dial color options and a reasonable ~$260 price to import (it is still mostly JDM only) if you stop thinking any further this is a pretty easy watch to recommend, especially to friends who are not watch nerds.
Unfortunately, I am a watch nerd and I cannot just stop thinking at the surface level. Not long after obtaining this piece and looking at it carefully, I began to feel there was something off about it. It really kicked in the first time I planned to go out to a social event wearing it and I had the vague sense that the watch suited neither the occasion nor my fashion sense generally. Upon more careful examination of all of the different design elements it eventually hit me: The thing I dislike about this watch is that it tries to do too many conflicting things at once.
Good watches have a strong singular identity. Great watches have this as well but also possess some degree of versatility that lets them work in a variety of contexts. The Tsuyosa fails for me because it is an amalgamation of three distinct identities: A simple Rolex OP/Datejust tool watch, an integrated bracelet style sports watch, and an upscale dress watch. The president bracelet, polished finishing, and display caseback with decorated movement contribute to the dressy vibe. The stark yet colorful dial and recessed crown contribute to the tool watch vibe. The case shape and integrated bracelet contribute to the sports watch vibe. Unfortunately, the elements clash leading to a watch that is less than the sum of its parts.
The Tsuyosa doesn’t succeed at any of these three identities .
You wouldn’t want to use it as a GADA daily tool watch. The bracelet is too dressy and being integrated isn’t easily replaced like true strap monster tool watches like an Explorer I. The recessed crown is also unpleasant to use since you have to pluck it out with your fingernail and it’s too small to wind with two fingers. You have to sort of just scrape one finger against it. Furthermore the movement accuracy isn’t great at around -15 seconds per day.
You also wouldn’t want to treat it like a sports watch. Again, the bracelet is overly dressy. It’s also not super comfortable and the clasp lacks sufficient microadjust. The display caseback and movement doesn’t exactly scream “performance watch.” With only 50 meters of water resistance, no hacking seconds, and just 40 hours of power reserve, this isn’t exactly a watch you’re going to be taking into battle.
The dress watch use case is where it comes closest to making sense but even here it falls short. The integrated bracelet and case shape give a distinctly non-dressy feel to the watch when worn with a suit. What’s more lumed baton hands and indices work against this identity. The cyclops and so-so date wheel text undermine it even further. If you’re looking for a proper dress watch at this price point you’re better off with an Orient Bambino or Seiko Presage.
The Tsuyosa to me is ultimately a Jack of all Trades Master of None. It’s like the designers just picked a number of watch trends out of a hat and threw them together randomly. Individual components are fine on their own, they just don’t work together well in concert. But again, maybe I’m overthinking it. Once actually on your wrist, you may well feel different. For my money though, I prefer a less schizophrenic watch.