Citizen is a trusted name among watch enthusiasts, renowned for pro-level dive watches and reliable military timetellers, and never forgetting about the style that put their brand on the map. Now they’re entering the smartwatch game with the Citizen CZ Smart, powered by Google’s Wear OS and the brand’s first touchscreen watch.
Available with a silicone band or stainless steel links, the CZ Smart immediately evokes the classic styling of a Citizen watch, most closely resembling many entries in the Promaster line. It’s instantly recognizable, with a distinctive silver-tone stainless steel case and three-button configuration. The silicone strap is brushed stainless steel with a subtle CITIZEN brand name laser etched into it.
Look and feel
At 46mm, the case feels substantial without being too weighty like beefier watches from names like Garmin and Casio. The whole design looks and feels low profile, because the CZ Smart isn’t trying to compete with the beefier, burlier multi-sport watches from the likes of Garmin. It feels first like a gentleman’s watch that just happens to house a full-featured smartwatch experience.
Let’s get into the technology. Powered by Google OS, the CZ Smart is compatible with any smartphone. Yes, even iPhones. I used a Google Pixel 4 to evaluate this watch, so I can’t speak to the functionality (or the lack of functionality) on iPhones, but my research suggests that iPhone users won’t have any trouble enjoying the full benefits of Google’s smartwatch operating system provided you have the Wear OS app installed on your phone.
The 1.28 AMOLED screen has a sharp and crystal clear 416×416 resolution. We’re dealing with Google design here, so everything looks and feels intuitive, with the multicolored rings encircling the case, measuring your BPM and daily steps. Use the Wear OS app on your phone to quickly customize the watch face to your preference. I chose Google’s native WearOS face, but if you dig Citizen’s styling, you can choose from different Citizen-designed faces.
Let’s see what you got, Google.
Use the Google Fit app to customize your daily and weekly goals so the CZ Smart keeps up with you and tracks your progress. Measure your steps, track burned calories, monitor your sleep schedule, and log every workout you do with the CZ Smart on your wrist. (That’s just a fraction of the things you can do with the Google Fit app, by the way. It’s a full-featured app that even lets you monitor your respiratory health by allowing your phone to film yourself breathing. But that’s for a different review.)
Anyone who’s ever used a touchscreen smartwatch knows the drill here: Navigating the watch is a series of swipes and presses to get where you want to go. Swipe left to instantly start an indoor or outdoor workout. To be more specific with your activities, just tap the center button to find everything from high intensity strength training to yoga. Swipe down to view settings, monitor battery life, turn on airplane mode, etc. When enabled, the CZ Smart receives notifications from your phone, so you can take calls, receive texts, and even reply with voice activation or quick suggested replies.
Buttons are awesome and I’m tired of pretending they’re not.
Navigating through the various screens is easy and responsive. The Snapdragon 3100 chip inside the CZ Smart is a reliable processor that confidently tackles every function. But the best thing about navigating the watch are the three physical pushers on the case, especially the rotating crown. With a single push of the central crown, you can view and scroll through every app on the phone. Use the bottom button to access activities. There’s something irresistible about using a physical button on a device with a touchscreen. It’s like I’m cheating, and somehow, getting more out of it. Call me old fashioned, but I was very grateful taking advantage of Citizen’s analog tech here.
I found the battery life on the CZ Smart to be reliable and generous. But depending on how heavily you use it, your mileage may vary. I didn’t use the sleep tracker, so by turning off the watch at night, I got close to three days of battery life before I had to charge it. And that included two back-to-back cardio days. But since this is a full-featured smartwatch, most users will charge it every day. Especially if they’re constantly using Google Fit or Maps, which drains the battery faster.
Speaking of charging, I was impressed with how fast the CZ Smart gets to full power. It charges very quickly. It gets roughly 1% battery charge every minute with the included magnetic USB-C charger.
One area I found slightly lacking was the CZ Smart’s measurement of my BPM. I found it consistently to be on the low side. After having trained with the Garmin Fenix 6S for several months, I have a pretty good understanding of my average BPM during any given training scenario. A standard cardio workout sees my heart rate averaging in the 140s. In three similar workouts, the CZ Smart clocked my average BPM in the 120s, which I thought was a little unusual.
I suppose it’s equally possible my Garmin could be inaccurately reporting my BPM as too high, so unless I do my next workout hooked up to a hospital treadmill, I’ll never know the truth. Maybe the CZ Smart is right and the Garmin is wrong. Whatever. In any case, doing a standard workout with the CZ Smart feels just as fulfilling. I like the gamification of fitness these days and tracking how awesome I am with Google’s easy to navigate wearable software is rewarding and motivating.
Let’s wrap this up.
All in all, the CZ Smart is a fast, capable, and distinctive smartwatch. I was happy with it and anyone who’s already a fan of Citizen watchmaking should take a look. Especially if you are, as Citizen just did, planning to enter the smartwatch game.