New Citizen CZ Hybrid – Less is More (More or Less)


The Citizen CZ Hybrid is an AI-inclusive update on the Citizen CZ Smartwatch (reviewed in 2020 here). As I predicted, Citizen has upped their smart watch game. The main takeaway…

The new hybrid still operates within Citizen’s walled garden. No third-party apps. But now it includes [what the Japanese watchmaker hopes is] a killer app.

The new watch has hands! Actual mechanical hands that get out of the way for an LCD screen at the top of the dial. No sweep second hand, because clutter. {Note: that’s not the killer app, according to Citizen.)

The Citizen CZ Hybrid does the stuff you expect a smart watch to do (e.g., display the time, monitor steps, sleep and heart rate, chronograph, alarm) and stuff Apple Watch haters would prefer it didn’t (e.g., notifications and Amazon Alexa control).

More than that, the Citizen CZ Hybrid includes the YouQ app. Here’s the official description:

The revolutionary wearable provides a built-in self-care advisor through the proprietary CZ Smart YouQ application, developed using research pioneered by NASA’s Ames Research Center and AI built through CITIZEN partnerships using the environment and tools within IBM Watson® Studio on IBM Cloud.

Anyone remember IBM? It was the personal computer powerhouse – right until Apple kicked their ass seven ways to Sunday. As the IBM link indicates, albeit in technical jargon, the still gi-normous corporation is looking to ride the AI bus back to consumer greatness.

In this case, the IBM/NASA AI “self-care” advisor “helps the wearer understand and anticipate patterns of fatigue and alertness and offers customized insights and personalized strategies to build better habits to maximize a wearer’s daily potential.”

This video provides greater insight into both the app and not-entirely-intuitive bother of setting-up the watch:

TLDR? Here’s the written 411:

Using neural networks developed within the IBM Watson® Studio workspace, CZ Smart YouQ can learn and understand the wearer’s chronotype (an individual’s preferred timing of sleep and wake) within seven to ten days by processing their sleep data and Alert Scores and deepens that understanding over time.

Alert Scores are generated when a wearer takes a custom-designed Alert Monitor test, a consumer-facing iteration of NASA’s Psychomotor Vigilance Task Test (PVT+), originally developed to determine the mental acuity of astronauts.

The CZ Smart YouQ Alert Monitor was designed based on NASA’s PVT+ test and utilizing research from leading science and academic experts at NASA’s Ames Research Center Fatigue Countermeasures Laboratory. The Alert Monitor tests are brief, gamified, and can be taken daily to measure the wearer’s alertness.

Nappuccino! Nap + caffeine, one of the watch’s suggestions when the Citizen CZ Hybrid AI senses the wearer’s energy levels are in the toilet. Now they’re talking my language!

Is this something you want/need? It might depend on your “chronotype.” I’d be fascinated to know which type buys the watch. Midday Dynamos? I’m sure it’s part of the remote data set, which belongs to God knows who.

Yes there is that. Anyway, at $316, trying out a Citizen CZ Hybrid doesn’t involve a lot of financial risk (keep the box for re-gifting).

Once again, I reckon we’re looking at a smart watch that’s a little too smart (i.e. complicated) for the average non-data nerd user. For those average Joes and Janes (Carlos and Juanitas?), the hybrid’s main advantage is… it’s got real hands!


  1. Having gone painfully unnoticed after their forays into finance and healthcare, evidently IBM want to take their machine learning game to wearables?

    Left unmentioned: the watch looks good! If Citizen made this exact piece with some non-useless, unconnected MIP time displays instead of Garminesque steps’n’stuff, they’d have my money.

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