Citizen Shine Braille Watch 4-300017TA

Citizen goal was clear from the start: to have a watch made for everyone. Time telling involves looking at the hands position on the dial but because this is not always possible, a watch was needed for the visually impaired people, for those who are blind or don’t see that well, and for those who have no light during night hours. Maybe Citizen also thought about the military purpose when a light is not always possible to use, so a different solution was needed. This is just a rumor and I doubt it is true, but who knows?! Unfortunately the solution was not a minute repeater (I would have loved one!) Citizen launched the “Shine” model in 1960. An official press release states that in 1967 a number of 215 watches were donated to 29 different countries to help the blinds, as an effort to support the United Nation program of promoting friendship and world peace. In 1975, 45 years after the first ever Citizen was produced, the company donated 5,000 of these watches to all 10th to 12th graders visually impaired students in Japan.

citizen shine

Citizen Shine was the obvious answer for them! The name is somehow ironic because for an object to shine it needs light, but this model tells time without that. If it shines, it doesn’t shine for time telling!

The case (35mm/10mm), as well as the bracelet, is made in stainless steel, (second generation has a SS back but the case is metal based) the flat caseback snaps into position and the domed acrylic crystal covers the face. If this would have been made only for the blinds I feel that having a clear crystal would have been somehow an overkill. So, what makes it so interesting? Well, the main feature is the fact that on this model the crystal is hinged to the case and can be flipped open. On the earlier variant (it was first introduced in 1960, making it the fist Japanese watch for the blinds) the crystal flips vertically pulling it open, but later on (on this first image 1969 example) a push release button was added at 2 o’clock so that the crystal pops open when that button is pressed. This makes it more secure and doesn’t open by accident, only by pressing that button. Now, on the later one, the hinge is on the lateral side of the case. Both variants do that in order to facilitate access to the dial and hand. The purpose for this is that the wearer can touch the face of the watch and this way the time is read. The hands are strong, polished and obviously very different in shape. The dial has three raised dots at 12, two at 3, 6 and 9 and one for the remaining hours. At the earlier model the dots were applied. Maybe they changed that because the applied dots fell as a result of all the touching and this could have affected time telling. Or maybe because it was cheaper and easier to manufacture this simpler second generation dial. There is no seconds hand to interfere with time reading. This way, only by touching, one can know what time it is.

The calibre is a manual winding one, with 17 jewels.

The first model had a 17 jewels parashock movement (2s/910) too, a variant of the 17 jewels used in the Center Second, but without a seconds hand, obviously. (second image)

citizen shine blind

(the second image – pictures found on the net)

Update 2015 Oct. – I was lucky enough to find a NOS, first generation piece, made in 1960, the very first year of production, so here they are below, side by side. 🙂 As you can see the movements are different, the crystal part opens differently, the dials and the hands are also not the same.

citizen shine braile watch

All things considered, this is an interesting watch, with a lot of history. We must not forget how lucky we are and blessed with our health. Also helping others less fortunate should be something for all of us to consider when possible!

All the best my friends!

See the video of this watch HERE

Read more about Citizen history HERE.


Underwater Diving Watches Quartz War

The Quartz Crisis, (also known as the Quartz Revolution), is a term used in the watchmaking industry to refer to the economic upheavals caused by the advent of quartz watches in the 1970s and early 1980s, which largely replaced mechanical watches. It caused a decline of the Swiss watchmaking industry, which chose to remain focused on traditional mechanical watches, while the majority of world watch production shifted to Asian companies that embraced the new technology.

On 25 December 1969, Seiko unveiled the quartz Astron, the world’s first quartz watch. The first Swiss quartz analog watch—the Ebauches SA Beta 21 containing the Beta 1 movement—arrived at the 1970 Basel Fair. The Beta 21 was released by numerous manufacturers including the Omega Electroquartz. On 6 May 1970, Hamilton introduced the Pulsar – the world’s first electronic digital watch. In 1974 Omega introduced the Omega Marine Chronometer, the first watch ever to be certified as a Marine Chronometer, accurate to 12 seconds per year using a quartz circuit that produces 2,400,000 vibrations per second.In 1976 Omega introduced the Omega Chrono-Quartz, the world first analogue/digital chronograph, which was succeeded within 12 months by the Calibre 1620, the company’s first completely LCD chronograph wristwatch.

quartz crisis Citizen divers(two prints from 1977 and 1979 of Citizen quartz and automatic diving watches side by side)

By 1978 quartz watches overtook mechanical watches in popularity, plunging the Swiss watch industry into crisis while at the same time strengthening both the Japanese and American watch industries.  As a result of the economic turmoil that ensued, many once profitable and famous Swiss watch houses became insolvent or disappeared. The period of time completely upset the Swiss watch industry both economically and psychologically. During the 1970s and early 1980s, technological upheavals i.e. the appearance of the quartz technology, and an otherwise difficult economic situation resulted in a reduction in the size of the Swiss watch industry. Between 1970 and 1988 Swiss watch employment fell from 90,000 to 28,000.(wikipedia)

At the same time Citizen was carrying it’s own war. Prior to this era the company was developing a lot of movements and interesting complications. Citizen production of quartz oscillators begun in March 1976 so the prints above are dating to the very heart of the war. Read more about Citizen history HERE.

So, who won?!

His and hers Citizen alarm – diver style

Here is of my favorite vintage watches! What can I say, I love diving watches! Despite the fact that it is not a real diving one, it is made in this style and has an added bonus complication.

As one can clearly see, because is written on the black beautiful dial, in white lettering, this is an alarm watch, Citizen 63-7076. It is powered by the usual Citizen alarm date calibre, 3102 (engraved underneath the balance wheel). This is based on the USSR calibre AS 1475. It is a manual winding movement, with 21 jewels running at 18000 bph. The watch has two crowns , signed “C”. The top one is for setting and winding the alarm while the bottom one is for setting the time and date and also winding the movement.

citizen diver alarm 63-7076The entire case is made entirely in stainless steel, the bezel is bidirectional frictional type while the crystal is domed acrylic with a date magnifier on the outer surface. I enjoy the fact that the watch looks good on any kind of bracelet or strap you throw at it (nato, rubber, leather, mesh…) Of course it looks good on the Citizen bracelet too. 🙂 The caseback is snap on type and for the alarm can work it can be placed only in a certain way. The active part of the alarm from the movement engages the passive part (the pin) of the caseback only if the two parts fit as they are supposed to.

citizen alarm diverCitizen also made one for the ladies, so here are a few pictures I found online on e-bay posted by antiquewatches-de. This one is a smaller watch and doesn’t have a date (calibre 9812). The crowns are signed “CTZ”.

citizen alarm diverThis year, and the previous one, we saw a growing trend of “his and hers” watches, well Citizen did it so beautifully, 50 years ago! And such a beautiful vintage pair this is today!

Here is a video of another Citizen alarm with the same movement and this is how it sounds:

And this is another awesome his and hers real diving Citizen pair:

Citizen Leopard 28800 4-720032TA

It is always nice to visit new places and when one of these places is Hong Kong there is no way that you should leave empty handed (pun intended). So, on a watch hunt I went. I talked to my friends from the city about the best places to find vintage watches around there and started roaming the streets. Little did I know that fate was going to prove that my hotel was perfectly positioned so, in the end, one thing leading to another, I found my dream watch only because I bought the one in this article (that is a another story to be told after I get THE watch in my possession). Back to the story, here is what I found:

citizen leopard 28800The interesting feature of this watch is the little word that describes, well… a big cat: the Leopard. The Leopard range is special due to the high beat movements. Some of them are 28,800 and some are 36,000 bph. This particular range of watches was introduced in about 1969 and only lasted for a few years, enough time for Citizen to make about 15-20 variations of Leopard movements based on 72xx and 77xx calibers. (as a side note: way too many variations and not enough DNA unfortunately) Also a great number of cases and designs were made so I am sure you can find a Leopard perfect for your taste. 🙂

This particular watch has a stainless steel polished cushion shaped case, a simple, smooth, polished bezel and a stainless steel case back. It was made in April 1974 (funny thing I have noticed – a lot of the Citizen watches I have/had were made in April). The quartz revolutions was about to change the watch world. Just think about the fact that Citizen today is the largest watch company based mostly on quartz, the very same quartz that almost killed what we love so much, the vintage mechanical Citizen watches. 😦 The dial is silver, simple, with a beautiful sunburst effect. The applied hour markers have a black line while the 12 o’clock one has two black lines. These black details work very well with the black hour and minute hands. The sweeping second hand is polished. The Citizen logo is also applied while the rest of the text is printed in black: “automatic, 28800, Leopard, 26 jewels”. One can easily understand from reading the dial that the movement inside is automatic with 26 jewels. On top of that it can also be winded by hand. The date is quick set while the day changes by advancing the hands past midnight. It is a hacking movement (the second hands stops when setting the time). The picture below is a part of the scans made by me of Citizen vintage catalogues.

Citizen leopard calibre 7200 36000

As a conclusion: beautiful watch and an interesting reminder of how fate works! 

Read more about Citizen Leopard 36000 here: