Vintage Citizen Watches case finishing


We talk a lot about watches because we love them. We love to strap them on our wrists, to wind them, to play with the chronograph, to turn the bezels. We enjoy to hear them ticking and to look at them. Most of the times we appreciate the details of the dial, the fonts, the lume, the movement… But let’s take a closer look at the cases, at the way these cases are crafted and finished.

Citizen watches are made in-house so the cases are also produced by them. It is not an easy task to make so many models. This means that a lot of  tools and work hours are needed. After all it is a business and profit margins should be there and case designing, producing and finishing are resource and time consuming. Let’s not take this work for granted. Today I will present to you three different watches. I chose one chronograph, one diver and one dress watch. The best of the best (in my opinion) when it comes to (not only) case finishing.

1 – Citizen automatic chronograph 67-9357, the octagonal “bull-head”

This piece has a stainless steel case, shaped like an octagon, and has 21 different surfaces, not counting the bezel. It is a combination of brushed and mirror polished ones. The top part (where the crown and the pushers are) is brushed laterally while the front part has a longitudinal finish. All the rest is polished. So manny angles and the way that the top part flows, from the powerful top part to the organic lower one! Lovely! This is for sure my favorite chronograph case!

2 – Citizen Super Autodater 39J 150m Parawater SADS52801-Y

The diver! The professional one, the first 150m with this design language. Well… this is the only uni body case 150m. This means that the movement comes out only if you remove the bezel and the crystal. Then you can remove the movement. The case-back is part of the case and it does not come off because it is safer this way when diving with it. After all it is the Professional one. All the case is polished, except the top part of the lugs. Now look at those lugs! Art! Just look at the beveled edges and the precision of the polishing. Perfect sharp edges everywhere. What a shape!

3 – Citizen Glorious

I can talk all day about it. After all, it is THE Glorious!  Just look at the pictures and realize that they just don’t do justice to the watch. In reality it is much better. And together with all the other details, the crown, the case back GC gold inlay, the GC stainless steel signed buckle… mesmerizing! So clean, so powerful, so confident without being over the top. All the precise lines and angles, the edges, the compact elegant shape… Yeah, I know that I am stating the obvious so I will better end it here and let you magnify the picture for better understanding the beauty of VCW.

As a conclusion, I will let you have it your own after you click on the picture and magnify it. Also click on the links above to read more about these models, you wont be sorry, but I have to warn you… it is contagious and soon you will find yourself craving for more Vintage Citizen Watches. 🙂 Enjoy!

Citizen bullhead 67-9356 restoration & service


This was not an easy project!

The story started with receiving the watch with the main complain being the fact that the crown fell off and the quick date change was not working. I received the watch and upon examination realized that the crown was not original and it didn’t fit the case space the way it should. Also the movement needed cleaning and a lot of repair. So… the watch got to the watchmaker and got completely stripped out.

So far the next problems were found – (and the solutions):

  • incorrect, over polished case – (re-polished to original specifications, difficult to restore the shape of the case and not to erase the caseback engraving, where only minor polishing was done)
  • wrong size of the aftermarket crown – (resetting and adjusting, no original part available)
  • bad rubber seal of the case back – (changed)
  • bended start/stop pusher – (kept like this due to high risk of breakage)
  • broken lever of the start/stop mechanism – (changed with original part from donor movement)
  • dirty movement – (fully stripped, cleaned, lubricated and regulated to +3 s/d)
  • badly bended minute chrono needle tube – (high risk of breakage, kept like this, no spot on resseting)
  • aged dial – (kept like this due to its originality)

We are happy with the final result. Well… not a new watch but all the complains were solved the best they could. Like most of the times, when restoring such an old used watch, it is very difficult to find the best way to do it. You have to find the right balance, the “just enough”. Not to over do it. Don’t repaint the dial, don’t over polish the case, don’t change original parts with after market ones, don’t take useless risks and damage more and more trying to find perfection. You will never get perfection, aim for it but don’t destroy the watch looking for it.

As Buddha said: “If you tighten the string too much, it will snap, and if you leave it too slack, it won’t play. Find the middle way!” 🙂

read more about this model HERE

Citizen Recordmaster Rally Custom Chronograph


The Citizen Recordmaster is a famous watch among vintage chronograph collectors and such a beautiful one too. The model was introduced in 1967 and was produced for only 5 years. It is a real column wheel flyback chronograph, with a hand winding movement. It counts up to one minute only but what a joy to wear and play with the pushers it is! The flyback action is awesome.

citizen recordmaster rally custom

The larger (42mm) version presented here is the more complex and sportier Rally Custom 63-0314. Even though there is another Rally Custom powered by a different non-chrongraph movement, this one has the same flyback manual 5702 calibre inside. It has a sportier look, a large black case with integrated lugs and one external tachymeter bezel as well as another inner rotating one. This inner one in addition to the scale on the dial is useful for some simple calculation such as speed and elapsed time. The dial itself is black, completing the all black look of the watch. The only tint of color is a yellow or orange circle on the dial and the orange second hand. On this model the date is located in a round window at 4 o’clock and there is one more crown at 10 o’clock for operating the inner bezel.

citizen recordmaster rallycustomThe movement is the Citizen calibre 5702 with 21 jewels. It beats at a slow rate, half the speed of the fastest Citizen Leopard movements, at 18,000bph. It is the first chronograph and the only hand winding chronograph movement that Citizen produced. There is also an automatic one with two variations: 8100A and 8110A. All of the Citizen chronograph movements are flyback and so is this one. The date is not quick set but changes by advancing the hour hand past midnight. The racing tropic strap is the best option and fits the watch perfectly.

Read about the other Recordmaster variant HERE.

Citizen Chronograph “Speedy” 67-9313


Finally, I found the time to write a few words about it, one the most desired vintage Citizen chronograph, the “Speedy”. It is called this way because of the resemblance with the well known Omega Speedmaster. (did you know that there is a Speedmaster limited eddition of 500 with white dial, the “Albino”?) I like it a lot, (not because of the Moon watch) and it is one of my favorites, along with the Recordmaster and the octagon Bullhead.

omega speedmaster citizen speedy

This one is also made of stainless steel and has all the DNA of a vintage Citizen chrono.

citizen vintage automatic chronograph speedy 67-9313

The main attraction of this model is the dial and the outside tachymeter scale bezel insert. (it comes with white or black dial) All these features combined make it gorgeous. The case is finished beautifully, polished and brushed for a very nice contrast. The crown (signed CTZ) and the pushers are polished, made of SS too. They are located on the side, in the traditional way, not like most of the Citizen automatic chronographs that are called “Bullheads”, on the top. The case back screws into place and has all the info about it, the model, the material, the serial that gives information about manufacturing date

The movement is the famous in-house calibre 8110A, that I wrote about quite a lot. It is an automatic, running at a high beat of 28,800. It is a fly back movement displaying both the date and the day of the week. It can also be manually wound.

Most of the times when I see this model it is on leather straps, but originally it also came on a bracelet. The one in the picture is not the original type but any straight end 18mm one will do just fine. In fact this watch looks good on almost any strap you throw on it.

UPDATE: Here is the pair, black dial, next to the white dial one. Which one do you like the best?

citizen speedy 67-9313 black white

You can read more about other vintage Citizen chronographs on the dedicated page, HERE.

Vintage Citizen Chronographs


You may call them “Bull head” or “Speedy” or “Walter Wolf” or “Challenge Timer”. It doesn’t really matter, as long as we all call them “Beautiful”.

Here it is 2016 and I want to start the year sharing this picture of four of my watches. What we have here is a small collection of chronographs, all with Citizen 8110a fly back movement beating inside. vintage automatic citizen bullhead speedy 8110s

Because I already wrote a few articles about watches powered by this awesome movement, you can read more about this calibre HERE.

The watches above are: 

  1. Black coated alloy Blackie Challenge Timer, rare green dial – read more HERE & HERE 
  2. White dial SS Speedy with outer Tachymeter bezel – still working on the article
  3. The black dial SS octagon Bull Head – read about it HERE
  4. Titanium Walter Wolf, Promethium dial, count down rotating bezel – read more HERE

I wish you all the best for this year and may you find your perfect Vintage Citizen Chronograph for you to call “Your own”. 😉

Citizen “Bull Head” Chronograph 4-901096-K


One of the Citizen mysteries, for me, gravitated around this very model. It is not only a very elusive watch but a beautiful one too! I have seen a few pictures that made the dial look bright green and in others looked a little bit towards golden brown. So I had to have them both to see myself how they look in real life!

citizen bullhead chronograph vintage

Finally I found two, both in excellent condition. So, here came out the magnifying glass, the photo camera and I kept on looking at one and then to the other in all lighting condition and from all the angles. In the end the conclusion is:

  • same case: 6N-4W-S, case back, pushers and crown
  • same model no: 4-901096-K
  • same movement: Citizen cal 8110A
  • same date and day wheel (English – Japanese)
  • same dial code: JAPAN 8110 – 901166 KA
  • same dial color – green, BUT… different shades of green

In fact most of the times they look almost the same, but from time to time, they look like in the picture above. So… why this difference? I do not know for sure. Based on the serial no, both these watches were made in the same day or very close together because they are only about 60 watches apart. My opinion this far is that the paint used had a slightly different proportion of ingredients. The simplest explanation is most of the times the correct one. If any of you guys have another point of view regarding this, please let me know! Maybe sun exposure, patina or…?? One day we might find out.

Meanwhile… read more about vintage Citizen bull head chronographs HERE.

Citizen Chronograph “Bullhead” Challenge Timer


Who does’t love a true vintage chronograph? And what is there not to love? Citizen made three chronograph movements, one manual – calibre 5702 with 21 jewels (read about it HERE) and two automatic ones based on the same design – calibre 8100A and 8110A, both with 23 jewels (read about them on the dedicated page HERE). All three are fly back chronos.

Let me introduce to you the well known, world famous Citizen Bullhead calibre 8110A! Citizen called this chronograph the Challenge Timer.

vintage citizen chronograph challenge timer automatic 8110A

*don’t forget to magnify the pictures on my blog for more details*

As clearly seen on the collage above (pictures from the sellers mostly from sweetroad) they come in different colors and variants.

The round shaped (so 1970’s) cases for all bullheads are made of plated metal base aluminum alloy (except for the stainless steel octagon one, read about it HERE). They are called bullhead because of the two pushers that are positioned on the top of the case. Those pushers (stainless steel) are there to operate the chronograph function. The one at 11 o’clock starts and stops it and the one at 1 resets it and it can also be used while the time is running and resets it and starts it in one single action. This is known as the fly back function. Most of the chronographs are not constructed like this. You can’t press the reset unless the time is stopped first, but on fly-backs that is possible. So, this is the Citizen automatic, 23 jewels, calibre 8110A with hand winding capability. It was produced by Citizen starting from 1972. It is a vertical clutch chronograph (beating at 28.800 bph) with column wheel and obviously fly back function. It is 27 mm wide and about 6.8mm high. Because of the column wheel/vertical clutch design of the movement it is better to leave chronograph running for most of the time (this way you can also see the beautiful sweeping central second hand in movement), but also from time to time it should be stopped. On top of all of this, it displays the date and the day of the week as well. A particularity for this movement is that when you want to change the day you should pull the winding crown to second position (for changing the date) and push and release the reset (1 o’clock) button. Interesting design so the interaction lucky owner – beautiful watch, is enhanced. I can’t even imagine the price of a vintage Rolex Daytona if it would have had all these features.

The dials are made in a variety of colors so for sure you are going to find one that on your taste. Just pay attention to the fact that the market is flooded with fakes! The hands vary as well and are also faked a lot. It doesn’t have a current running seconds but leaving the chronograph moving you can have one, while the chronograph function, when needed, can be engaged with just a simple action – press the fly back 1 0’clock pusher and start counting from zero.

So… the case can be plated: golden, dark brown-green, black, or silver. The bracelet is plated too, I have seen it in stainless steel, rubber or leather.

Here it is a NOS dark olive green plated one, with original bracelet and awesome golden dial:citizen vintage chronograph bull head challange timerAnd the black coated, green dial, NOS too:

citizen bullhead chronograph vintageIt is a beautiful watch but, once more, pay attention to the “aftermarket” dials, hands, straps and wrong finishes of the case. And let’s not forget that a lot of them are made of parts and have a bad history. All things considered, it is a beautiful time piece to have but such a difficult task to find the proper one. Good luck hunting for the right one for you! Once you find it, you will love it! This is my favorite: HERE

Citizen Chronograph 8100A 4-900031TA Challenge Timer


This must be one of the most beautiful Citizen ever made. And that is not an easy thing to declare, but I think in this case, it is most likely true. Just take a look at the way the light is dancing on the hour markers, the blue metallic finish, black case… the color of the hands… poetry! This is the Citizen Chronograph Challenge Timer 4-900031TA.

Citizen had three chronograph movements. The first one is a manual wind, found in Citizen Recordmaster – HERE, and two automatic calibres, based on the same main design. The watch presented here is powered by 8100A.

Citizen vintage chronograph 8100A

The case is black coated and has a stainless steel case back and bezel. The chronograph pushers and the crown are also SS. The bracelet is a very interesting combination of black coated metal parts and black leather. Because it is such an old watch, most of the leather parts on these bracelets are, unfortunately, ruined. I am glad I found this NOS example with intact parts. (I have one more bracelet like this in great need of new leather parts, so if anyone interested in that, let me know.) About the caseback – here you can see the way it was sealed with stickers the day it was made –  “passed JWCII” The JWCII was used since 1954 and lasted up to 1991. It was made for a specific reason: to ensure quality control. They were applied in factories producing horological and other technological products. JWCII sticker (initially placed on watches where QC was an important step of manufacture) was later-on seen on Japanese cameras and lenses and a few electronic devices.

The movement is the automatic fly-back, 23 jewls, calibre 8100A with hand winding capability. It was produced by Citizen starting from 1972, just as 8110A. This watch was made in 1973, It is a vertical clutch chronograph (beating at 28.800 bph) with column wheel and fly back function. It also features a day and date indicator. The fly back function means that you can reset the chronograph while in motion and it will start again without needing to go the entire process of pressing stop-reset-start. So, one push can do all of this. Of course that if you want to stop it you can go the classic stop-reset way. A particularity for this movement is that when you want to change the day you should pull the crown to second position (for changing the date) and push and release the reset (5 o’clock) button. It is 27 mm wide and 5,8mm high, (1mm less than 8110A). The column wheel/vertical clutch design of the movement advices to leave the chronograph running for most of the time (this way you can also see the beautiful sweeping central second hand in movement), but from time to time it should be stopped. This is a chronograph that needs to be used. It is not made for design purpose but for timing.

And… now let’s tall about the way it looks. 🙂 The awesome dial is blue, with a sun burst effect, metallic and reflects the light in various ways, making it sparkle to life in direct sun light. In the shade it becomes darker and sometimes even close to black. The hour markers are applied and have orange accents. The hands are orange too, for perfect complementary color contrast (blue – orange). On the outer part of the dial is the white Tachymeter scale.

Beautiful watch, wonderful movement. Great to have, look at and a joy to wear.

Read more about Citizen chronographs on the dedicated page HERE.

Citizen chronograph calibre 8110A


Here are a few pictures of the gorgeous in-house movement Citizen cal 8110A that my friend Sergio was kind enough to let me use on the site so all of us could enjoy! Thank you Sergio!

The movement here is the Citizen automatic, 23 jewels, calibre 8110A with hand winding capability. It was produced by Citizen starting from 1972. It is a vertical clutch chronograph (beating at 28.800 bph) with column wheel and fly back function. (how many modern chronograph do that, and what is their cost?) Lets don’t forget it has a day and date indicator. The fly back function means that you can reset the chronograph while in motion and it will start again without needing to go the entire process of pressing stop-reset-start. So, one push can do all of this. Of course that if you want to stop it you can go the classic stop-reset way. A particularity for this movement is that when you want to change the day you should pull the crown to second position (for changing the date) and push and release the reset (1 o’clock) button. It is 27 mm wide and 6.9mm high. The column wheel/vertical clutch design of the movement advices to leave the chronograph running for most of the time (this way you can also see the beautiful sweeping central second hand in movement), but from time to time it should be stopped. This is a chronograph that needs to be used. It is not made for design purpose but for timing.

citizen 8110a chronograph

Citizen 8110A

Features
automatic chronograph, 60s, 30min, 12h, pillar wheel
flyback feature: reset and immediate restart
day: set by reset-pusher in crown position for date setting, 2 languages
date: quickset

Data
12”’, Dm= 27.0mm
H= 6.9mm
23 jewels
f = 28800 A/h
power reserve 40h

Stem Citizen 065-178

Remarks
1970-
ball-bearing rotor
usually as bull head (crown/puschers at 12h, day/date at 6h)

Example, year: signature; shock device
1977: Citizen Japan, 23 J.; Parashock

Data about this movement from here.

Read more about one of my favorite Citizen, one powered by this awesome movement here: https://vintagecitizenwatches.com/2013/12/24/citizen-bullhead-chronograph-67-9356/

Citizen Walter Wolf Chronograph


Like most of the times a lot of patience pays off. After a long time searching I have managed to find not one, but two very rare vintage Citizen Walter Wolf chronographs in the very same week! The first one came from Italy, the titanium one, and a week later, the black one came from Germany. (Thank you Fred and Daniel!)

citizen walter wolf

Why is this model so special? Because in the 70’s Citizen produced a lot of interesting watches and their chronograph calibre 8110A was one of the best: fly back, column wheel, day-date, hi beat automatic. What an awesome movement! And where is a chronograph at home?! In a race! So… Citizen made this Walter Wolf watch, with a special case (the one in titanium was one of the early watches to use this material for cases and bracelets). The other one is black coated metal. It also had a bidirectional rotating bezel, a nice feature usually not used in chronographs. On the outer circle of the dial it is the mandatory race related Tachymeter so the outer rotating bezel is a nice addition. Read more about Walter Wolf Racing HERE.

Back to the watch! The black one is made in 1982 and the titanium in 1983. As I was saying the case is special to this model and by doing this, Citizen managed to obtain a 100m WR. That is impressive. The crowns and pushers are non screw in but the caseback is. The winding crown is hard to operate because it is very small. On the caseback we have the Walter Wolf logo (present on the dial too), the brand, the material, the model and the serial no. The country of manufacturing is obviously Japan. In fact I think this model was made for Japan (all the models I know about had English – Japanese day wheel). The bracelet is well integrated with the case and is the perfect design for this racing dedicated watch. The dial is beautiful, black (there is one more model with a golden dial), with a lot of interesting details (please magnify the pictures for better understanding). The luminous material is made with Promethium 147, a radioactive material. Read about it HERE.  It is marked P-JAPAN-P. The rotating bezel is another interesting feature. This in not the usual diving style one but a countdown type! Note the 60-0 markings. (not the usual diving 0-60)  On top of this there is a cardinal inscription (N E S W) for better navigation, of course!  🙂 The movement is the usual Citizen cal 8110A, a vertical clutch chronograph (beating at 28.800 bph) with column wheel and fly back function. It has a day-date indicator. The rotor is special with a different inscription than the common 8110A found in the other models.

vintage citizen walter wolf

Update 2016 October: (pictures credited to the online seller)

Here it is how the original package should look like. Also note that there is a quartz pair of the automatic chrono.

walter-wolf-racing-citizen

Conclusion: A special watch, loaded with  features, a joy to wear and use, a pleasure for the eyes and a huge happiness for the heart and soul of the blessed owner.

Read more about Citizen chronographs HERE.