Sunday, October 29, 2006

Collection Part 8 - Citizen Watches

I tend to pick up a Citizen or two from time to time usually because it has some kind of interesting design or technical feature.

It is much harder to get any information on Citizen watches than on Seiko watches. Many fewer people seem to collect Citizen watches than Seiko and discussions on this forum are much more sparse. The only decent Citizen watch history in English that I have been able to find are these two articles (which are however very good) and most of the info in here come from them. It could be noted that there is a lot of guessing involved in this Chapter as it has been quite hard to verify dates and similar. As you can imagine, searching for Citizen watch on Google turns up a lot of neighbourhood fire organisations and Citizen Homer gets you mainly Simpsons episodes.

Japanese sources are also limited. Arochan has a Citizen page with good photos of the vintage things but not as information-filled as his Seiko pages and Ao has good listings and pics of newer Citizens.

Citizen seems to have had volume production of watches at least as early as Seiko and has for a lot of its history been the larger producer. In general Seiko and Citizen have competed head to head and you can often see similarities in development and styles. For a lot of things, like the introduction of quartz watches, there were only months between the companies. Citizen is later to the international markets and gets into the US in 1960 through a cooperation with Bulova and into Europe in 1965.

The Citizen Deluxe was introduced in 1958 as a high end manual watch with a 25j caliber regulated in three positions, perhaps similar to the Seiko Goldfeather. The Deluxe came in a number of variants with both 23j and 21j and continued together with the Super Deluxe to be produced a few years into the 60s.

A 21j Citizen Deluxe from approx 1960. The watch has a nice textured dial, which unfortunately my picture skills are not good enough to capture.

Also from 1958 is the Citizen Junior. A lower grade watch produced in 9, 11, 15 and 17j versions presumably in large volumes.

A 17j Junior from 1962.

Citizen came early to the making of alarm watches. The first one was the A-980 caliber introduced in 1958. I did a brief post with some links on the Citizen alarm movement a few months ago. As mentioned in the post, I think the Citizen movement is based on a Swiss movement from the mid 50s. I have put a Citizen and a Poljot movement pic below for comparision. The Poljot 2612 movement which is still produced has the same ancestry and as you can see, the movements are very similar. Poljot got the movement by purchasing the production tools from Schild in the 1960s.

The alarm function is not really as advanced as in the Bellmatics, as this is essentially a separate alarm movement with its own winding and spring function placed on top of an ordinary movement but it usually has a good ring to it. If you check the case back picture, you see the little dot next to the serial number, which is the end of the pin that is struck to produce the ring.

A 21j Citizen Alarm Date from 1967. I think this is one of the nicest looking Citizen watches. As you can see, the hands uses some kind of fill-in lume and are actually hollow. The lume seesm to disintegrate with time so most of these watches look like the come with hollow hands (which also look quite nice). I have two of these watches, one with a good movement but bad dial and crystal and one opposite so I should really switch movements.

Citizen does not use animals or similar arty casebacks but do a quite nice job with text and lines. It is said that the serial number has the same format as Seiko, with production year and month at the start. It is however much harder to figure out decades due to lack of info.

Movementpic Citizen (borrowed from Cellowatch on ebay)

Movementpic Poljot (borrowed from Foro reljoes)

The Citizen Jet series starts in 1961 and turns up as Jet, Super Jet and Super Jet Auto Dater. Nakahiro has a great page on the restoration of a 39j Super Jet Auto Dater, which to me is one of Citizens most interesting movements.

A 21j Citizen Jet Auto Dater from 1963. Citizen tend to overload their dials with a lot of text, but you cannot beat the design of the Jet plane.

The Auto Dater and a number of other Citizens from the early/mid 60s use the sharks tooth rotor. This solution was used by a few more manufacturers but I do not think anyone used it as extensively as Citizen. It has an internal cog linked to the rotor. I assume that the rotor would rotate more smoothly, but do not really know what the technical advantages might be.

Citizens volume brand during the 60s was the Homer, starting in 1960 and still being produced in the 70s. It came in lots of shapes and styles and would probably be easiest to compare with the Seiko Crown.

A 17j Citizen Homer Date from 1965 (75?). Citizen did a lot of these cleaner SS designs for the general Japanese market. Obviously, Parawater (introduced in 1959) and Parashock (introduced in 1956) are the Citizen designations for waterproof and shockproof. Looks a lot like a Selfdater, even down to the blue text in the waterproof part.

A 23j Citizen Seven Star V2 from 1970. While Seiko went with five, Citizen was two better and continued to seven with the Crystal Seven in 1965 and the Seven Star from 1968. The Crystal Seven was the fancier watch while the Seven Star was more sporty with a few Advan-like touches like this one ( I bought this watch because of the nice 70s styling and the very cool day/date display. As you can see, it uses overlapping day and date wheels where the date is shown in a cut-out under the day wheel.

A 23j 8110 cal chrono from 1981. As mentioned previously, Seiko and Citizen introduced watches more or less in parallell with each other. Citizens reply to the 6138/9 was the 8100 caliber in 1972, supposedly called the Easter Rabbit. Mine is probably repainted, redialed and re-everything else as it was purchased very early in my starting phase. Still a nice watch though and easier to wear than the Seiko bullhead as it is a 38-39mm size.

Prices for Citizens are lower than for comparable Seikos, perhaps with the exception of the Alarm watches, which will cost you about USD 90-100 on ebay. Bullheads are much cheaper than Seikos and USD 100 will buy you a good one. Keep an eye out for the 80s ones which are quite nice and there has also been a lot of colourful aftermarket dialed ones lately that are fun.

Collection Part 7 - Fancy 5000s (Presmatic Vanac LM Special and a DX)

Continuing the ongoing saga of Seiko watches, this is now the 7th chapter of 10 or so.

General reference history from Kevins post here;

Anything written by Don will provide reference to this chapter but I have chosen to use them in connection with the particular watches described.

SteveGs recent Presmatic review tells you all you want know about Presmatics and has some fantastic close-up pictures.

The 51XX caliber is a Daini development starting in 1967. The most common variant is the 5106 that is used in the Seikomatic-P and its export version, the Presmatic. The Presmatic is supposedly named after its hex-crown inset which is "pressed" to activate the quick-set, a function which was new with the Presmatic. Presmatics always have very high quality dials and finishing (see some of SteveGs pics for the attention to detail) and while being a low-beat caliber, it would probably be possible to adjust to KS grade standards.

A 5106-7010 from June 1968

Unfortunately this one does not have the hex crown (and a replacement one costs as much as the watch). The dial is better than I can get the picture to show with a midnight blue deep colour dial.

A 5106-8020 from April 1968

A SCTF purchase that I am very satisfied with. The onyx/black insets set it off nicely. The Presmatics are about 38-39mm so the are (for me at least) very wearable watches that do not dominate. Excellent on black leather straps.

A 5106-9000 from December 1967

My newest purchase which is in pretty much NOS condition with a bit of the blue stuff still on the back. It has a serial number of 0068 so I think it is a very early version Presmatic. It has (like the previous one) the most common Presmatic design, which seems to have been available in a number of dial colours but with the same type hands and dial markers. This light grey version gives it a bit extra life and shine.

The 51XX series also had a few DX models at 5126 and 5139 with 23 and 27 jewels respectively. Not much is written about these but I assume they were medium grade. Except for the number of jewels, the calibers are very similar. John W puts them as down-jeweled versions of the 5106.

A 5139-7020 from June 1968

Moving on from the 51XX series, we get to the 52XX series. This is also a Daini development starting in 1969 and used in the LM Special, the Chronometers and the KS Vanacs. The 5206/16 comes in both 23j and 25j variants but the rest are 25j only. As with the 51XX we are still in the high range and watches are nicely finished. Don noted in a post a few years ago that dials and finishing in this range is pretty much the same as with the GSs.

I have not been able to find any major differences between the 23j and 25j versions or between the 5206 and 5216 and they turn up in pretty much the same brands and case styles.

A 5206-6070 from December 1971

This is a LM Special with a meteorite dial. As mentioned above, excellent quality and finish. I particularily like the little yellow arrow on the second hand.

A 5216-7070 from May 1975

If you want the fancy 3D dials, they are probably most common in the LM Special range. Usually and perhaps exclusively comes with the faceted crystal. This crystal is a bit prone to chipping so there are many out there with plain crystal. There seem to be faceted replacement crystals being made so hopefully the trend can be reversed as the facets really add to the appearance of the watch. Again a pretty small watch at about 36-37mm (but the longer length balances it out quite well).

For more of the blue dialed versions, see Dons post from a few weeks ago, which also has a few more details about LM specials and these fancy dials.

And here is another Don post regarding the "Special" designation;

Leaving the 52XX we get to the 56XX series. The 56XX series is made by Suwa and starts about 1968. Again a high-end series going from the 560X LMs through the 562X KS to the 564X GS. The 560X was covered in a previous post so I will leave those out. The 5626 is a high-beat caliber used for the KS, the KS Vanac, the Vanac and the Chronometer. I am not that familiar with the technical details but any search on KS or GS, of which they have been quite a lot, will bring you the requisite details.

A 5626-7150 from April 1972

A SCTF purchase of a very nice Vanac. It is not completely evident from the picture but this has a 9- faceted slightly blue coloured crystal(essentially there are 3 faceted (either split horisontally or vertically) or 9 faceted (like tic-tac-toe) dials). The blue colour works very well with the blue dial and adds life to what could otherwise have been a bit boring.

Another Don post, this time on Vanacs and KS Vanacs. A you probably know, Dons posts on high end stuff below GS from the late 60s and 70s is probably the most valuable (only competition would be early Lee and a few of Koheis over at TZ but they are more picture-based) non-Japanese reference on these watches and everyone of them is a great pleasure to read. Wish someone would make more and possibly an index (hint, hint).

A 5626-5029 from November 1971

The KS 5626 was also made in an export version. The thing to note about this one is that it does not say KS anywhere but is one of the few that actually says "Officially certified Chronometer" at a time when this was also true. There is a very interesting movie about the certification process and the establishment of the Japanese certification institute on the Seiko site but I cannot find the link at the moment.

A 6106-7720 from June 1974

I thought I would throw this one in here as well. It is not a 5XXX series but for time and design purposes, it is very similar to the Vanacs of the time. As usual, Seiko is trying to spread its designs over a large price and customer range. Faceted crystal and a nice dial.

A 5606-5211 from December 1975

A slight discourse from the theme but it did not fit into my previous 5606 post (or any other post really). A SCTF purchase which presumably should be dated as 1975, but could as well be 1985. Seiko did a few of these designs which were ahead of its time like the 6220-7990 Skyliner and this one. Also a good way of using your 24mm leather straps.

Just to make my 5000 post more or less complete (I have deliberatly skipped the 50XX Tomony kids watches), we should also include the 57XX. As I do not have any GS and the 5717 is saved for a later post, the remaining one is the 5740 Lord Marvel. A high beat (36000) 5740C. The 5740A and B are low beat Lord Marvels.

As usual, a Don post will provide all the information you need about the 5740C.

A 5740-8000 from August 1968

Don has tirelessly been promoting these watches as the most value for money high end Seikos and it is very hard not to agree. Collection focus have kept me out of the GS range but with these watches I do not really feel that I have lost very much as to quality, workmanship and technical perfection.

Presmatics would be available on ebay at least once or twice a month. Expect to pay from USD 125 for fair quality to above USD 200 for very good quality. Go for the Seikomatic-P as the Presmatic badge adds probably USD 20-40. LM Specials are also not that unusual and have even better prices. If you are lucky, you can catch one where the competition is low at about USD 75. Really good examples with good crystals would bring you into the USD 150 bracket.

Advans and KS Advans are generally lower then KS prices and not that common. Keep you eyes out and expect to pay about USD 250. Lord Matic 36000 is also available from time to time. A bit overpriced in my mind and some of the designs are quite ugly (none is excellent). Prices around USD 150.

Collection Part 6 - A flock of Sealions - Dress watches from the mid 60s

This time, I have picked out a cross-section of my Sealions. This is one of the hardest line of Seikos to get a grip on so additional information and corrections are very welcome.

Sealions must be Seikos most commonly used trademark during the mid 60s. Sealions start 1964 (or perhaps late 1963) in the 394 caliber. Roughly, Sealions come in a L Series, an M series and a CR series. There is also a LD series of Sealion ladies watches. I have heard of a C series but never seen one.

The L series seems only to use the 6220/22 caliber named as the L33 Sealion and the CR series uses the 8306 caliber as the CR 220 (however, the 8306 also turns up in the M series as the M 110). The CR 220 seems to be identical to the Seikomatic-R.

The M series is the broadest series of the Sealions. It comes as the M55, the M77, the M88, the M99, the M110 and the M880. I have heard of a M44 but never seen one. There is no absolute corrolation between these designation and calibers, but I have only seen 8306 movements in M77, M99 and M110 and only 6106 movements in the M880. The M55 is the most common Sealion and turns up during the whole of its existence with a progression of calibers with the 394, the 6205 (which essentially is a relabelling of the 394) and the 6106.

Isthmus cites Mr Tokunaga as saying that Sealion was a designation for high grade chronometer watches during the 60s. This makes sense for watches like the 8306 but I would not say that about the 6106 or a 17j 6205 for example.

To confuse matters even more, Sealions are also designated Selfdaters, Weekdaters, DXs or nothing at all. I would also assume that Sealion casebacks have ended up on other watches as they would fit a lot of watches and there is nothing on the case or the dial to say that it is a Sealion.

First watch is a nice champagne dial bought from Ponycarp. Sealions are most common in silver or dark grey but champagne is a very nice variation. It has the little castle dial markers which are probably the most common type on Sealions.

A Sealion M55 6106-8040 from November 1967

The brother of the first one but with a dark grey dial.

A Sealion M55 6106-8040 from July 1969

Next one my only L series and the only handwind. Uses the "house" dial markers.

A Sealion L33 6220-8990 from August 1967

The nicest markers in my opinion is these ice cream cone markers. Unfortunately a re-dial with the text not that well executed. On its original bracelet, which is a pretty nice style common ca 1966-67.

A Sealion M77 8306-1000 from July 1967

Early Sealion with the 394 caliber.

A Sealion M55 394 caliber from October 1964

The crosshairs is the most common dial marking but this one is also quite common.

A Sealion M88 6205-8000 from October 1965

Parts watch with broken crystal. Luckily the crystals are all plastic and quite easy to get hold of.

A Sealion M55 6205-8960 from December 1966

Finally, two Sportsmatics 5s who were put in this chapter as they share the same design and same time period as the Sealions. Fitted with the 6619 workhorse caliber, they are very nice watches. I am extremely grateful that they did not spoil the dial with the "5" badge.

A Sportsmatic 5 6619-7001 from December 1965

Do not dare to wear the mint one so I had to get its silver twin brother.

A Sportsmatic 5 6619-7001 from September 1967

Prices for Sealions are extremely reasonable. As they are dress watches rather than sports watches, they are usually in good condition. Ebay price for a good condition ordinary Sealion would be USD 50-70. Unusual ones, like the 8306 touches USD 100 and at the other end, a DX could be yours for USD 30-40.

For those of you who were expecting the late 60s fancy watch chapter, this has been moved to next week.

/ mart

(should of course have added the Sealion from the beginning)

Collection Part 5 - Old watches with cool names (Marvels and others)

The two main parts of my collection are seikomatics and really old vintage seikos and fancy 70s seikos --- sorry, The three main parts of my collection are --- (OK wont go there), but really after a brief chrono elation at the start, I have always liked the vintage "old man style" watches. The clean design with well worked dials and markers is excellent. The technical evolution from the crude 9 jewel movements of the early 50s to the slim 25j caliber of the Goldfeather in the 60s is to some extent a parallell to the Japanese industrial development during this time.

As usual, Dons and Kevins summaries are very helpful for background information and most of my info here come from them as the Japansese sources are less accessible for this period than for later periods. Without their work, these posts would have been pics only;>>

Apologies for the lack of movement pics but my technical capabilities do not yet extend to opening these types of cases. Nakahiros site has excellent movement pics of a lot of these watches;>
Aos collection is also a good source for pictures.>

The epson page also contains some good info on the Super, the Marvel and the Gyro Marvel.>

The relevant timeline for this period would be;


Super (July 1950-56) Unique
Marvel (Sept 1956-)
Gyro Marvel (1959 ?) Cronos (May 1958-)
Laurel (1959-)
Crown (March 1959-)
Liner (1960-) ---- Goldfeather (Feb 1960-)
SkyLiner (1961-)- Champion (1961-)

The Super was the leading watch in the Japanese market during the first half of the 50s. It was the first centre-second watch produced by Seiko evolved from 8j through 9, 10, 11, and 15j to end up with 17j. Watches here are probably 9 and 15j.

The Super was replaced in 1956 by the Marvel. If you believe the hype by Seiko / epson, the Marvel had 7 out the the 10 best watches in Japan in 1957 and 8 out of 10 in 1958 and established the reputation of Japanese watches in the rest of the world. Suffice to say, the Marvel is probably the most well known of the vintage Japanese watches and had quite a number of technical refinements from the Super (see epson link). It did represent a large step towards the high technical quality and manufacturing effciency that was typical of Seiko watches in the first half of the 60s. The Marvel was also an evolution towards the larger watches of the 60s. The Marvels here are actually 17j and 19j even if the dials could make you think differently.

The Gyro Marvel was obviously developed from the Marvel and most descriptions say that Seiko just added an autowind function to an ordinary Marvel movement. Excellent Gyro Marvel page with pics is here. If you can watch this page and not want to buy a Gyro Marvel, you are a lier;>

As mentioned above, the Cronos was Dainis effort to counteract the Marvel and this was also a pretty advanced watch targeted towards the medium end of the market. No extra points for seeing that a second hand is missing. Rumour has it that Cronos Specials did not have second hands but I do not think that is true.

Shortly after the intoduction of the Cronos, Suwa introduced the Crown. When the Crown was introduced, it seems like the Marvel was phased out. Both the Marvel and the Crown was produced in a very large number of dials and cases and were the mainstream Seiko trademark with Marvel from about 1956-60 and Crown from 1960-64. I have seen a number of styles which the Crown obviously inherited from the Marvel. The main caliber initially for the Crown was the 560 but you also get Crowns in 57 and 57XX calibers.

It is seriously hard to research the Laurel as most hits regard the newer watches from the 90s. From what I have been able to find out, the Laurel was sold between 1959 and 1960 as a slightly cheaper brand to the Marvel. Most Laurels are very similar to Marvels but tend to have the 17j SS caliber rather then the 19j copper one of the Marvel of the same period.

As Kevin mentions, the Liner with the 3140 caliber (like the one in the pic) was the predecessor of the 62XX Seikomatic series.

It could be argued that the Skyliner should be included in the next generation as it is more contemporary to the Seikomatics and more anchored in the 62XX series than in the 2/3 digit earlier series. I have taken more of a design decision and put it with the earlier watches. This is a 402 caliber Skyliner which was first produced in 1961 and not very similar to later Skyliners (see following collections) so I will leave it here.

Don has a great post on Goldfeathers which really cannot be beaten so I will just say that this is one of my favourite watches and just let you sit back and look at the dial and hands of this GF.>

The Champion is the Daini mainstream watch from the early 60s and seems to be positioned in the market pretty much as or slightly lower then the Crown. If turns up in a number of shapes and sizes and seems (like the Crown) to be a trademark rather than a consistent line of watches. As with the Skyliner, a lot of Champions are more like Sportsmatics, Sea Horses and similar, but I have made the cut here after the dress vintage watch but before the sportier ones.

As the prices of the watches here fluctuate significantly according to quality, my price indications are less valid than for other watches. The safest indication would be to say that you pay about USD 60 for bad ones, like the Skyliner and the Laurel above, about USD 200 for the really good ones like the Goldfeather and the Gyro marvel and about USD 125-150 for the others.

Collection Part 4 - Sportsmatics

Sportsmatics are roughly parallell in age to the Seikomatics in the previous post but seem to hold out a bit longer, possible to about 1967. They are made by both Daini and Suwa. Sportsmatics come in all kinds of calibers like the early 6601s and 6605s but are most common with 76XX calibers starting about 1964. Sportsmatics are mostly a lever or two below Seikomatics qualitywise with most calibers being 17j. The exceptions are the deluxe Sportsmatics with 23j and 25j 7605, 7606 and 7619 calibers. The most common Sportsmatic is probably the 17j 7625.

From the collecting perspective, I am not that exited by the Sportsmatics except for the 7619 and the 7606 calibers because of the separate quick set crown on both of these calibers (I am a real sucker for anything with more than one crown). The 7619 seems to replace the 7606 in the line up about 1965.

You can probably find a Sportsmatic any day of the week on ebay. Prices for the non-deluxe tend to be around USD 40-60 and for the deluxes USD 70-90.

As usual, check Kevins summary for more on history;

A 7619 caliber from 1965.

A 7606 caliber from 1965.

A 7625 caliber from 1967.

Probably a 6601 caliber from 62-64.

A 820/7625 from 64-66.