Baselworld 2018 – 100 years of CITIZEN


Citizen is having its 100th anniversary this year and we all know what a major event this is, a once in a lifetime opportunity to take a look at the past century of fine watchmaking and still have a glimpse at the next one. I couldn’t have missed it for the world!

Our trip to Baselworld trip story started a few months ago when visiting the Citizen Headquarters in Tokyo Japan. Our host Wakaba Kuroshima said she was looking forward to see us in Basel. Without even blinking I agreed: that would be lovely! So… fast forward to a few weeks ago when she sent us invitations for the Citizen 100th anniversary party. Thank you Wakaba! We were already accredited as press, to cover the event, but the official Citizen nominal invitations made me so proud to be there that nothing else really mattered those days. We booked a few hotels, cleared our schedule and fueled the car. Road trip to Basel! By the way, this is the first time I went to this well known world watch event and, I know it is hard to imagine, I only did it because of the Citizen party.

The trip was long but awesome! Five countries, 3000 km, 35 hours driving time, a few restaurants along the way and all this for just a two hours party?! Well, that is correct, it was not just a party, it was the Citizens 100th anniversary and there was not a chance I would have missed it. Sunny and snow, cold and rain, stuck in traffic on the highway and yet again doing 250km/h plus on German Autobahn… We made it in Switzerland just in time to meet a few on-line friends at the fair while taking a look at the new watch releases. Unfortunately, because of the tight schedule, I couldn’t meet all the friend I planned to. Hopefully next time.

So… we got our Press badges, entered the fair and took a short look at the Swiss watches. They were really cool and are covered on-line everywhere, but the main reason for our visit was Citizen, so finding the booth was the main goal. It was easy to find. We could’t linger, so back to the hotel we went for a shower and dressing up for the party. The watch I took with me was the first Citizen ever made, the pocket watch. It felt like the perfect choice and I was not wrong. I also had some original Citizen made accessories, with Citizen movements, tie pin and cufflinks that fitted the occasion and the location nicely. In fact, what you see in the pictures as shining little stars hanging from the Citizen booth ceiling were nothing else but thousands of Citizen movements. The design was spectacular and here it is what Tsuyoshi TaneAtelier Tsuyoshi Tane Architects says about it:

“What is time?”
From prehistoric times until now, countless civilizations and tribal nations have asked this very question. The gears of time have been turning ever since humanity first became conscious of the concept, and it is no doubt that we will continue to contemplate time inthe future.

Born alongside time, we have it to thank for human emotions: joy, sorrow, and at times, even suffering. It has created our history and engraved our memories.

Entering the 20th century, however, time was presented with an additional element: speed. Thanks to a revolution in technology, time accelerated – or at least this was the illusion we were under. Before we knew it, humanity had begun to consume time until it had lost its very soul. And now, time has become digital, smart, and taken on a most cold and mechanical nature.

Consequently, CITIZEN has decided to focus on “What time means to the 21st century”.
The question that we have been posed with now – as citizens of the 21st century – is “What is time for?” The answer will depend on our meaning of happiness.

At the CITIZEN Watch Group booth at Basel world 2018, we will be paying homage to this elusive concept under the theme, “We Celebrate Time.” As we approach our 100th year anniversary, the CITIZEN Group as a whole will be holding a special watch exhibition and performance at what we have named Time Theatre. It will also feature the dazzling installation that “turns” light into time, LIGHT is TIME. We will be surrounding our visitors in 21st century-light through an installation of wrist watch main plates meticulously positioned to form a spectacular geometrical space. Bulova will also be holding an exhibition reflecting on time, “History of First” is a visual representation of the brand through the time span of its 143 year history.

Join us in our homage to time in the 21st century, as We Celebrate Time for the sake of the future.

Back at the party I was so pleased to meet Wakaba again and I had the opportunity to meet for the first time in real life my friend Hiroyuki Ohta, manager at Citizen Watch Co., who gave me a lot of support in the last years. Thank you my friend! Hope to see you soon and keep in touch!

 

The music was nice, perfect for the occasion and the light show was awesome, we had a Sushi bar with Japanese chefs and fine drinks. There was a beautiful dance moment “Light is time’ but the highlight of the party was the speech of mr. Toshio Tokura – President and CEO of Citizen Watch Co.,Ltd. Here it is a part of it:

What is Time?

The Citizen Watch Group encompasses six unique brands: CITIZEN, Bulova, Arnold & Son, Frederique Constant, Alpina and CAMPANOLA-each proclaiming its individual achievements in innovative style and technology, which they have cultivated throughout their respective histories. By celebrating time, which includes understanding and acknowledging the time each brand has invested to reach this moment, we believe together as a group, we are better equipped to pioneer the next great advancements in the world of watches.

This year at Baselworld 2018, Citizen Watch Group is pleased to introduce the new Time Theatre, created under this year’s corporate theme, “We Celebrate Time.” The Time Theatre is open to the public and is a place where we hope people can gather and honor the special moments in their lives, from the past to present, as well as gaze into the future and the many amazing experiences that have yet to be realized. The Time Theatre also showcases the latest watches by Citizen Watch Group brands for those who share a common passion for distinguished design and craftsmanship in watchmaking.

In 2018, CITIZEN is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and throughout our existence we have continually sought to define the meaning of “time.” Whether it’s an accumulation of seconds, minutes and hours, all accounted for on our wristwatches-or perhaps the very stream of our lives, “time,” it can be interpreted simply as a series of momentary events that occur. Time truly is precious, so the tools to measure and communicate time must be accurate, and CITIZEN’s unwavering mission and pursuit for accuracy has continued since its founding in 1918.

We are also proud this year to announce the “Cal.0100,” the world’s first light-powered Eco-Drive movement to deliver an accuracy within ± 1 second a year. The Cal.0100 is completely self-sustainable, relying only on a light source and the mechanics of its internal movement to deliver precise timekeeping, autonomously and continuously. The technology allows us a more efficient and honest appraisal of time, and with it, the ability to better manage time and enjoy the precious moments of our life.

Please join us as “We Celebrate Time” at CITIZEN’s Time Theatre, where we will be displaying a number of innovative new products by CITIZEN, Bulova and other Group brands. We thank you for your continued patronage and support, as we set forth into the next 100 years at Citizen Watch Group, and continue our pursuit of excellence while pushing the possibilities of watchmaking design and technology.

Toshio Tokura President and CEO
Citizen Watch Co.,Ltd

During his speech Mr. Toshio Tokura also announced the Citizen  – Disney collaboration and this is a major thing. They became the official timepiece of Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland and Marvel new media’s creative space. Among other things, the Walt Disney World Resort and the Disneyland Resort will begin offering Citizen timepieces featuring designs unique to Disney Parks. Citizen will also become a red-carpet sponsor for the highly anticipated Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War film in April 2018, creating experiences surrounding the release of this milestone movie.

So many good news and for sure the future is looking bright for Citizen and Eco Drive but somehow I feel a little bit disappointed in not having a mechanical watch as a 100th anniversary. Well.. every watch brand is doing an homage and at least a few vintage inspired modern reinterpretations, and they sell like crazy, but Citizen was not. Why? I know why but still, the hope is the one that dies last.

The answer is deep in the Citizen philosophy: Small-ER, Fast-ER, Thinn-ER.  

As a gift, when leaving the party we got the Essence of Citizen 2018 catalogue and two beautifully presented lollipops shaped and the first Citizen and the newest one. Amezaiku – is a traditional Japanese candy craft art. Thank you Citizen! Domo arigato!

The new 100 years will be better and better, that is for sure! They were always improving and innovating so they will not stop.

Better starts now.

The challenge:
Accurate to ± 1 second

CITIZEN has pursued the essence and further possibilities of the watch ever since the company’s founding. There is one challenge that we have actively confronted throughout that entire time: superior precision.
In 1924, we developed our first pocket watch, the “CITIZEN.”
We debuted our first quartz watch accurate to ± 10 seconds per month in 1973, and in 1975, we debuted Crystron Mega, the world’s first quartz watch accurate to ± 3 seconds per year.
We continued to produce even more accurate watches with longer running times incorporating our proprietary light-powered technology Eco-Drive.
This year, as we mark our 100th anniversary, we have achieved yet another milestone: Calibre 0100, an Eco-Drive movement with annual accuracy ± 1 second, which tells the world’s most precise time.*
Calibre 0100 tells the precise time autonomously based on an internal mechanism with no reliance on time signals from radio towers or GPS satellites.
It marks the individual seconds in their purest and most refined form.
Like a strong person who achieves his goals through sheer force of will, it uses its own rhythm to tell the precise time for everyone, wherever they are, without depending on anything outside itself.
The Calibre 0100 marks the start of the next one hundred years of watchmaking for CITIZEN.

Read more about this calibre and the future plans of Citizen HERE.

 

Bottom line: As a collector, am disappointed? No, I am not, in fact I am even more proud of Citizen and even though my heart still wants a vintage inspired Chrono Master 500m my mind knows that this is not the Citizen philosophy. They are respecting the past and are proud of it but they are always looking forward, better and better. It is us, the collectors who are at a certain level stuck in the past, protecting and preserving the wonderful world of  Vintage Citizen watches. What I can do is write, collect and share data and respect them. I will let Citizen do what Citizen does best: be better, evolve and innovate. And yes, a light powered watch, accurate to a a second per year, is way better than a mechanical one. Such an achievement! Every reason to go this way, except for the fact that the heart wants what the heart wants. I will keep on collecting VCW and keep on dreaming of a time long gone, before I was born…

Thank you Citizen! I am so proud and humble at the same time to be a part of this wonderful story that keeps on going!

Happy bithday!

お誕生日おめでとうございます。
Otanjoubi omedetou gozaiasu!

Citizen Guy- www.vintagecitizenwatches.com

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Choosing the perfect watch for Baselworld 2018


In just a few days I will be at Citizen’s 100th Anniversary Party at Baselworld. Proud to be invited at this special, once in a lifetime, event. So… which watch should I wear?   I have to take so many aspects into consideration when making this decision: first of all, it should be an important watch in Citizen’s history, a rare one, a cool conversation piece, one of my best… Also, I have to think about the way I dress, about the over 12 hours drive to Basel, the weather maybe? Hm…. Tough choice! 

In order to decide I created a POLL on Vintage Citizen Watches Facebook group and here it is what my friends think I should wear:

Third place: The Citizen Glorious

The 1971 Glorious is one of the rarest and most appreciated Vintage Citizen Watches. It is not called “Glorious” for nothing. At the time of its launch it had one of the most precise and accurate movements in the world, and many say it was a lot better than the direct competitor: the best of Grand Seiko line. Awesome 36,000 bph movement, no doubt about it, perfect SS case finishing, NOS, a pride to have in such condition. Does it get any better? I would love to have it with me at Baselworld!

Second place: The Citizen Diamond Flake

The 1962 DF is so much more than a beautiful watch. It was, at the time of its first appearance, the thinnest three hands watch movement in the entire world, at only 2,75mm! This is the ultimate dress watch: thin, elegant, no date, no lume, manual wind movement, silver dial and…. let’s not forget that my example is made of solid white gold!  Talk about class! What better choice for a formal Citizen party?

First place: The Citizen Chrono Master 500m

This in my Holly Grail, one of my pride and joy watches, the 1969 beast diver! The best of the best! Would I strap this on my wrist, hell yeah! Is it a good watch to wear with a suit? Maybe it is not, but look at it, read about it and wear it! I wrote a lot about this awesome watch and no more words are needed, this is the “to go to” watch at any Citizen get together. But is it the best option for this occasion? My Facebook friends think so and this is still to be decided in the next day.

And a special mention, on of my favorites:  THE Shokosha Citizen 

Somehow this simple pocket watch went under the radar but think about it, after all it is the 100th Citizen anniversary and the watch that started it all, the first, the one to be celebrated here is in fact this one, the one and only, THE CITIZEN. So why not more votes for this one? I would vote for it and in fact I will right now and give it a chance!

The battle is on and one of these will go the 2018 Baselworld  for the 100th year anniversary party. So… which one should it be?

Will keep you updated. 😉

The fabulous story of Seppo and his B52806 150m Citizen


I had a dream – a dream about watches, adventures and open waters. I had a dream about freedom, and friendship, about trust, duty and honor.

It was the late ‘60s – a time of change. We had the moon landing, not because it was easy, but because it was hard. We had the Beatles and Bob Dylan. We experienced Woodstock, raced cars with naturally aspirated roaring engines, smelled the burning rubber and the exhaust gas. We watched Paul Newman films, surfed under the So Cal sun or enjoyed a glass of vino rosso somewhere on a hill in Tuscany.

Freedom, adrenaline, sex, innovation.

I had a dream about the time when a watch was so much more than jewelry, when its purpose was to indicate time and it was used in the way it was always meant to be: racing, diving, flying or timing important events, even in space or on the Moon.

Yes, I’m talking about tool watches!

In the picture above is me, diving, and Seppo wearing a shirt with the logo he designed. In the background we can see the watch. 

It was the late ‘60s and the world was experiencing major changes. Somewhere in Mariehamn (read about this place HERE), Seppo Prepula was also about to have a change in his life. He found himself in sudden need of a new watch.

As he was walking home from work on a cold day, he noticed heavy rain clouds forming overhead. He picked up the pace but it was already too late. The notorious Finnish weather caught up with him, setting in motion the events of our story.

He got home soaking wet, down to his Omega watch. He was not happy.

Two years ago he’d started taking diving classes at the local fire department in Hanko. He’d been bitten by the diving bug and decided that the obvious, natural thing to do was buy a diving watch. His old watch was now ruined, which only motivated him to follow this path and make no compromises in his choice.

He’d heard about a Japanese company called Citizen, that offered high quality diving watches. So he entered a store in downtown Mariehamn, had a brief talk with the seller – who proceeded to throw the disaffected Omega in the trash – and decided on a new Citizen diving watch, the 150m B52806.

That very watch is on my wrist as I write this article.

Here is the watch, the way I received it, caseback and movement too, before cleaning.

Before sending me the watch, Seppo described it “practically new”, and he was so right! The beauty behind this statement is amazing. Even though time took its toll on the crystal, even though the lume is yellow and some of it is gone, even though the case is showing so many deep memories and the crown no longer screws back in… Seppo is seeing it through the same lens he did the first time he laid eyes on it. What Seppo sees when he looks at the watch is his reliable diving buddy.

Yes, Seppo, I can confirm… the watch is indeed “practically new”. Thank you so much for allowing me to wear it with pride, to keep it and enjoy it as you did.

Now back to Seppo and his story. A few weeks ago, his son, Conny, wrote a comment on my site www.vintagecitizenwatches.com telling me that his father has an old diving watch and inquiring about its value.

Well… the rest is history and here I am wearing it today as I tell its story. Between the years 1960 and 1990 Seppo did a lot of diving. Today he is 76 years old and his son Conny is 46 (younger than the watch). In fact, it seems highly probable for this watch to have been at his father’s wrist when Conny was born. Seppo wore it almost all the time, rain or no rain, and, of course, when he was diving. That was, after all, its main purpose. And he dove all around the north European seas. All his life revolved around this passion. He used to wear his special knife, looking – as Conny recalls – just like a Jedi master.

Some personal pictures of Seppo, diving and wearing the watch, the club logo and the watch on the strap he used for diving. This is how I received it. 

He started diving in 1967 in Hanko, near Mariehamn before he moved to Uusikaupunki where, with the support of his diving buddies, he founded a diving club. That happened in 1978, the year I was born. He also designed the club’s logo, which is still in use today. Visit the website HERE.

He remembers one of his first dives in 1968 at the Plussa wreck, where he uncovered a sextant and a helm. These artefacts are now proudly displayed at the Mariehamn Maritime Museum. Read more about it HERE.

In Bomarsund, he dug up cannons and a lot of brass/copper ammo core as well as plenty of old cannon powder, stored in tubes (“I enjoyed these in the late ‘80s and almost lost my eyebrows a couple of times because of that, says Conny”) Read about it HERE. Ten kilometers north of Bomarsund, in the early Swedish times, dives were organized to mine for silver and rock crystals in the remnants of the old mine.

The watch reportedly reached a maximum depth of 70 meters (WOW!) in front of Eckerö Post & Tullhus of Åland. Eckerö’s post operated in the time of autonomy as Russia’s westernmost border station for Sweden over a hundred years, which is what made it such an interesting place for diving. The wreckage remains hidden somewhere in the deep waters and will one day for sure be discovered. Read more about Aland HERE.

At Herrö, many dives were made to the wreck of Skiftet. They were sludge cleaning the wreck and lifting up items from it. In one of those dives, Seppo’s regulator got stuck somewhere in the engine room and he had to take his tube and gears off at a depth of 25 meters. “Small close call issue”. Read more about it HERE.

A lot of grenades and ammunition were saved in the seas in front of Hanko – read about it HERE. Read more about the old Mannerheim coffee house HERE.

In the late ‘70s, Seppo was part of a group of divers searching for bombs off the Hango coast. Seppo dived, located grenades and marked them for explosion. They were old Soviet grenades left there after Soviet occupation in WW2. Seppo and his family also lived in the region for a couple of years.

In the early ‘80s at Uusikaupunki, a 300 kg anchor was raised up in front of Lyökki. It now belongs to the Uusikaupunki Museum. “I remember that trip when I was a young boy, my father was with a 6-member diving team that made this job at a depth of 40m”, Conny recalls.

The watch made its last dive in the early ‘90s, when Seppo was tube-diving in the factory of Uusikaupunki.

Diving locations and expeditions, the anchor he saved (wearing the watch) and other items, the medusas rising, the blue seas…

Well guys, if this is not a real tool diving watch, show me a better one! I almost ran out of words working on this article. There is a huge amount of pressure on me as I try to do justice to this special timepiece and its fascinating story.

Seppo recalls that the movement of the watch was only serviced once, in 1975 when the bezel insert was changed because the old one was so deteriorated it was difficult to read. This could have been a safety hazard when diving so a new one was installed. Back then, the watches were not looked upon as collectable jewelry and were not pampered. It was a diving instrument that needed to be up to the task so the original bezel was thrown away and a similar one (Citizen made, of course, but from the next 150m variant) was installed, having the exact same specifications. After this, the watch was never opened nor cleaned until the day I received it. Hundreds of dives in the cold, deep, salty sea waters, and never ever failing once.

Cleaning the watch.

Seppo always trusted his watch to perform and the watch never disappointed him. It was always there for Seppo, keeping him safe.

A few questions for Seppo and his answers:

– what watch are you wearing now? – A “normal” Citizen.

– why did you sell it? And why did you sell it to me? – I am not using it for the purpose it was meant to be used. I don’t dive anymore. I consider that you appreciate the history of the watch and the watch itself, so it felt absolutely right for you to have it.

– how did it feel to let the watch go? – The watch did not have huge emotional ties, but it has been many times involved, most of all it has been a tool for me, which has worked just like a train, always flawless, just like it should.

– do you miss diving? – yes a little bit, I miss this adventure and finding new things, it is difficult to find that view and feel in land, you can try, but you probably need illegal drugs for that. 🙂

– if starting life again, would you do it the same way? Diving, watches… any regrets? – I would not change a day, everything or object leads to something and every item is correct in time, it does not change anything by switching. I could live my life 100% same way.

-any advice for someone who is looking for his first watch, that is just starting his life? – I myself know that a mechanical watch is the best and safest solution for underwater use. Water and electricity do not belong together!

– what is the best memory you have (when wearing the watch)? – Underwater “adventures”, the watch told me that this does not have to be left up yet. Also friends, we were a close community and we always take care of each other’s safety in diving on our trips. Great memories are those summer dives when the medusas rise abundantly in the upper layers. The sight is beautiful and it is worth experiencing at least once.

-what other watches did you have at the same time with this Citizen? – Omega and Leijona, only needed one dive watch and it was this one.

-how did you get this strap for the watch? Did you wear the watch with this strap when diving, or other similar ones? – It is a compass strap (Suunto, from 80 “s). Originally bought a stretch of metal bracelet, it quickly began to resound, obviously salt water did their job to it.

– what would he like for me to do with the watch? Wear it? Take it diving again? Keep it in the safe with my collection? – Please keep maintaining the watch and its history, I greatly appreciate it is in the hands that know something about it and know that it’s real tool not just a cosmetic jewel. Enjoy it!

Thank you Seppo! I can’t thank you enough! I am humbled to and grateful at the same time for the honor to write about you and about your watch, well… my watch, OUR watch! Somehow I feel I am a part of your adventures and hopefully the readers will appreciate it as much as I do. Thank you!

Seppo’s watch and a NOS one I had in my collection that was lent to me by his present owner for this  photo shoot.

All things considered… This was no dream; this was the reality even though this is the dream watch we all hope to find one day. If you have a similar story to tell about your beloved Citizen watch, please let me know, or if you know someone willing to share his story, please write me, I would love to write about it. I hope you like it!

Thank you Seppo and thank you Conny!

Special thanks to my friend Andrei Cherascu, a famous SF author, for helping me with the article. By the way, check out his award-winning novel Mindguard and his other novels HERE.

Citizen Guy- www.vintagecitizenwatches.com