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.


Bob7k said...

those are some nice watches

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