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Actually Affordable: Citizen Brycen CA7090-52A Super Titanium Watch

Actually Affordable Citizen Brycen CA7090 52A Super Titanium Chronograph 4

In terms of output, Citizen is easily one of the world’s largest watch manufacturers, and the Japanese brand has always represented a readily available offering, where buyers can get a quality timepiece for a very reasonable price. Citizen’s enormous economies of scale allow it to produce watches that would otherwise cost significantly more from most other brands, and this has only become even more true since Citizen has expanded its use of Super Titanium across its contemporary collection. A perfect example of this is the Citizen Brycen CA7090-52A, which is an integrated bracelet sports watch crafted entirely from Super Titanium that runs on a solar-powered chronograph movement and sells for a truly entry-level price point.

Actually Affordable Citizen Brycen CA7090 52A Super Titanium Chronograph 10

Given the number of different models that make up Citizen’s lineup, its various collections can sometimes be a bit nebulous, although the Brycen range consists of casually styled sports watches that are intended to easily integrate into everyday life. As for the Citizen Brycen CA7090-52A, this 2023 release represents one of the more refined chronograph models from the Brycen series, and it embraces a slightly retro 1970s aesthetic with its barrel-shaped case and integrated bracelet construction. Additionally, for those who are averse to the silver (almost) “panda dial” appearance of this particular model, Citizen also offers a black dial version in the form of the Brycen CA7090-52E, which is identical to the watch featured here, with the only difference being the finish on its dial and hands. 

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Actually Affordable Citizen Brycen CA7090 52A Super Titanium Chronograph 3

Just like the names of Citizen’s collections, “Super Titanium” can also be somewhat of a nebulous term, as it isn’t limited to just one specific type of alloy or finish. The grade of titanium used can differ depending on the requirements of the component and its desired finish, and the Duratect coating applied to the surface of the metal can appear in different colors depending on the desired aesthetic of the watch. That said, all of Citizen’s various flavors of Super Titanium are 40% lighter than stainless steel with surfaces that are five times harder thanks to their proprietary Duratect coatings. As for the Citizen Brycen CA7090-52A, its Super Titanium case and bracelet feature a more-or-less uncolored Duratect finish, which means that they retain the natural dark gray hue of the underlying metal.

Actually Affordable Citizen Brycen CA7090 52A Super Titanium Chronograph 15

The barrel-shaped Super Titanium case of the Citizen Brycen CA7090-52A measures 43mm in diameter by 11.6mm thick, with an overall lug-to-lug profile of 49.5mm (or approximately 53.7mm once you factor in the way that the center links of the bracelet slightly stick out past the edges of the case). While titanium components most frequently receive a brushed or sand-blasted finish, the bezel and the bevels running down both the upper and lower edges of the case are all high-polished to give the watch a more refined overall appearance. Similarly, the push/pull-style crown and the pushers on the 3 o’clock side of the case also receive a high-polished finish, while the solid titanium caseback is brushed and screws down to the middle case in order to help support the watch’s 100 meters of water resistance. 

Actually Affordable Citizen Brycen CA7090 52A Super Titanium Chronograph 8

Many of Citizen’s watches are fitted with mineral glass crystals, and this is especially true for models that are priced on the more affordable end of the spectrum, including its high-performance Promaster dive watches. That said, Citizen has been ramping up its use of sapphire in recent years, and rather than being fitted with a mineral glass crystal, the Citizen Brycen CA7090-52A has a flat sapphire crystal protecting its dial. While a mineral crystal is never a deal-breaker for me personally, I still firmly prefer sapphire, and a sapphire crystal on the Brycen CA7090-52A is certainly a welcome feature, especially given that a primary benefit of this watch’s Super Titanium construction is its superior resistance to scratches. 

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Actually Affordable Citizen Brycen CA7090 52A Super Titanium Chronograph

The dial of the Citizen Brycen CA7090-52A features a two-register chronograph layout, but rather than featuring its pair of sub-dials oriented horizontally like most watches, it opts for a vertical format, with a 60-minute totalizer at 12 o’clock and the running seconds register for the time placed at the 6 o’clock location. A tachymeter scale sits along a thin black ring that frames the dial, while a circular date window sits at 3 o’clock. With that in mind, although the date window itself is circle-shaped, the cut-out in the solar panel layer below it is rectangular, and while this is more than likely the inevitable result of the Brycen CA7090-52A using the same solar panel component as other Citizen models, it does give the date window a unique layered appearance.

Actually Affordable Citizen Brycen CA7090 52A Super Titanium Chronograph 12

Historically, the dials fitted to solar watches were rather limited in design due to the fact that portions of them need to be transparent in order to allow light to pass through their surfaces and reach the solar panels that are mounted below them. That said, Citizen has mastered this technology over the years, and the dial fitted to the Brycen CA7090-52A is significantly more detailed and refined compared to the dials that you typically associate with solar-powered watches. The secret to its design is the fact that its solar panel sections are limited to just its recessed sub-dials, and this leaves the brushed silver central section free to offer the same type of detailed finish that would normally adorn a standard watch dial. 

Actually Affordable Citizen Brycen CA7090 52A Super Titanium Chronograph 9

The applied hour markers on the dial of the Citizen Brycen CA7090-52A are polished to match its baton-style hands, and both elements receive black lines running down their centers to help add contrast and increase visibility. Two small pops of bright red appear on the 60 marker of the minutes totalizer and on the tip of the centrally-mounted chronograph seconds hand, while the hour and minute hands both receive small luminous strips in order to allow the time to be referenced in dark settings. While the lume on the hands is plenty bright and emits a solid blue/green-colored glow, the hands are the only luminous elements on the entire watch, and a little bit of lume on the hour markers would have ultimately been a welcome addition. That said, the dial is still one of the highlights of the Citizen Brycen CA7090-52A, and its raised hour markers, recessed registers, and brushed silver surface work together to create a surprising amount of visual depth and an aesthetically pleasing overall display.

Actually Affordable Citizen Brycen CA7090 52A Super Titanium Chronograph 16

Inside the Citizen Brycen CA7090-52A is the Eco-Drive B642 solar quartz chronograph movement, which offers a 60-minute chronograph with the added functionality of a date display. Just like other Citizen Eco-Drive movements, the Cal. B642 can power itself with either artificial or natural light, and rather than having both of its seconds hands tick once per second, the centrally-mounted chronograph seconds hand emulates the smooth sweep of a mechanical movement, although it still has the characteristic quartz chronograph reset, where it must make its way around the entire dial, rather than simply snapping back to zero when the lower pusher is depressed.

Actually Affordable Citizen Brycen CA7090 52A Super Titanium Chronograph 2

The bracelet fitted to the Citizen Brycen CA7090-52A offers an overall design that is similar to the style that can be found on a number of the brand’s other affordable models, although it is crafted entirely from Super Titanium to match the rest of the watch. The bracelet attaches to the case with the final end-links slotting into 10mm wide cut-outs in the case, although the first link of the bracelet actually measures 24mm across at its widest point in order to create an integrated overall appearance. The links of the bracelet then quickly taper down to 20mm where they attach to the clasp, which is a simple stamped titanium folding structure that features a double push-button release and is signed with the Citizen logo.

Actually Affordable Citizen Brycen CA7090 52A Super Titanium Chronograph 7

While the clasp itself is entirely serviceable and is more-or-less identical to the style that can be found on a number of other Citizen watches, it is also arguably the weakest part of the Brycen CA7090-52A. The stamped components help ensure a thin and lightweight design, although they are a far cry from the perlage-adorned double-deployant clasp that is fitted to more premium models, such as the radio-controlled Citizen PCAT CB5918-02L. In that same spirit, the removable links are secured by pins instead of single-sided screws, and the clasp only has two micro-adjustment holes without any type of built-in extension system. Due to the integrated design of the bracelet, third-party strap options will be rather limited, and this means that the minor shortcomings of the clasp will be things that you will (more than likely) have to accept as being part of the watch itself. That said, the bracelet is quite lightweight and comfortable on the wrist, and when you consider the humble price point of the Citizen Brycen CA7090-52A, the included bracelet is ultimately a more-than-acceptable option.

Actually Affordable Citizen Brycen CA7090 52A Super Titanium Chronograph 13

With an official retail price of $475 USD, the Citizen Brycen CA7090-52A is the least expensive chronograph in the brand’s current lineup. It is crafted from Super Titanium and comes on a matching bracelet. Additionally, the premium that accompanies this model versus Citizen’s least expensive three-handed equivalent is a mere fifty bucks, which ultimately seems incredibly reasonable given the more advanced functionality of its movement. On top of that, since this is a watch from Citizen, you can typically find the Brycen CA7090-52A at a discount with a little bit of searching, including sometimes even directly from the brand itself. A natural competitor of this model would be something like the solar-powered Seiko Speedtimer, although when you consider that the Citizen Brycen CA7090-52A is crafted from Super Titanium instead of stainless steel like the Seiko, and yet it is still somehow priced $200 less than the Speedtimer, it’s hard not to admit that the Brycen CA7090-52A is a highly compelling offering within Citizen’s current catalog. For more information on the Citizen Brycen CA7090-52A, please visit the brand’s website.

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