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!

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Power, spirit watch


So why do I Really wear this? What is it that compels me to cast my eyes across the many models I could choose from, only to succumb to the subconscious needs to wear what I believe to be the holy grail of watches? MY Holy Grail! I questioned whether it was the subconscious strength It offers me, or the empowerment it affords me the instant it hits my wrist.

That sense of power it transfers to me, offering such irresistible desire that you just have to take a sneak look at the timepiece when you think nobody’s watching? The hidden comfort it affords, the metamorphosis of cold steel to skin temperature the instant it’s put on. There’s so much I could say about it, so many reasons to give to justify wearing what I openly concede to be MY holy grail of watches.

The finest of nuances are what does it, the 60 clicking sounds of the bezel so finely crafted, the hypnotic power of the second hand as it moves effortlessly in it’s attempt to put me into metronomic trance. Yes, that’s it; it’s my Spirit Guide, my guardian, and my keeper of time. Time we all know rests so precious upon one’s hand.

It is… The 1969 Citizen “Chrono Master 500m Diver”, of which there is nothing to compare!

citizen 500m chrono master diver vintage

It is a piece of such importance to me I can safely say it’s the one! The Grail, one that none other will ever beat! Truthfully, the realist in me accepts that one can never give a closed title to any watch, there will always be another to come and steal your heart, your soul, your very being.

Why did I not choose the predictable, the Rolex Submariner, or some other grandiose watch? Because nothing else could give me the story a watch should give. (Read about the Citizen 500m Diver HERE ) I’ll tell you why? I simply couldn’t. Even with all it entails, the Rolex to me can never capture the sense of spirit that is held in the above. You see buying a watch isn’t always about money. Anyone with money can buy a ‘Rolex’, but can they buy the passion of the story behind it? In my case it can’t.

Yes, it’s true you have to posses some level of wealth to obtain the Citizen 500, but that isn’t always enough. You have to possess fortune, luck, a blessing, call it what you will. I call it fate. This was destined to become mine, my keeper of time.

Having that knowledge I’m in possession of my guardian angel I no longer fret or worry about when, if, how am I ever going to get my hands on such a treasure. I already have, and that’s the strength behind my loyalty to this particular model. Waiting patiently sometimes not so, I knew my time would come, and come it did. My waiting paid off, and many a lesson learnt in the process of my waiting.

I was taught the concept of perseverance, the will to fight, to never give up on any given cause. The watch is more than just a watch; it’s my journey. A journey that saw several watches passes through my grasp. But my perseverance paid off; for despite those few for sale over the time; with only two of these being 100% original, (needless to say I bought them both…) That is why I award my Citizen 500 the title I bestowed upon it.

There will never be another watch, or brand that will replicate the feelings I endured during my quest to own the Citizen 500, the thrill of the chase, the disappointments, the ultimate euphoria I felt when I eventually took possession of my cherished goal. It is what encompasses the very self of me, my spirit, my determination, my very soul. My spirit went into the chase for my Mecca of watches, the reason I now call it ‘my Spirit watch’. It holds the very essence of me which when I look at it on a daily basis I’m constantly reminded of.

This watch will be carried with me through the rest of my journeys. It will experience the thrills I’ll no doubt encounter when looking for another prey in the ever-growing desire to build the best Citizen Vintage Collection possible. It will never have a price tag on it, never be for sale, it is mine. It is my Spirit Watch.

Bogdan

(special thanks to my friend Kevin, who polished my words and gave the article the final, actual form)

Crystal and bezel insert Citizen 150m diver


One rather simple task is to change the bezel insert. I will update the article with info about how to do it. The crystal changing can be an easy one or not really, depending on the model.

In this case we removed the old scratched crystal and replaced it with a better one and this really made the owner say that the dial is gorgeous. Finally he can appreciate the beauty of his watch.

The bezel insert was changed with an aftermarket one that is very close to original specifications. Lume is a good match too.

Both the original crystal and bezel insert were returned the same day to the owner.

A simple cleaning was carried out, of course, and we identified a few problems: the frontal part of the lugs were polished and they are supposed to be brushed and the movement needs cleaning and new seals. This will be carried out in the future.

I hope you like the result! 😉 The picture shows the reflections on the crystal.

vintage citizen 150m diver crystal and bezel insert

Now, strap it on a nato and enjoy it! 😉

PS – click on the picture to magnify it.

Citizen parts for repair and restoration


At least once a week I get a mail, a comment or a message about sourcing a part for someones loved vintage Citizen watch. It may be a missing bezel insert or an original crystal. Someone is looking for a movement part for a Jet calibre or for Chrono Master hands. Maybe you are searching the original Citizen diver strap or a bracelet link to buy in order to restore your watch.  We are all looking for something… So: where can we find original parts for our vintage Citizen watches? Is there a special secret place for them?

citizen parts crystal bezel crown for repair and restoration

That is an easy question but not an easy one to answer. In fact original parts are, most of the time, almost impossible to source. Citizen company doesn’t provide them (because they don’t keep them) and because they made so many models I imagine having all available is not a real possibility. So the company is out of the question. Next choice would be looking for one online. But… do you know the part code? I guess you don’t. So first thing you have to do is finding a Citizen original parts catalogue, find the part inside and find the identification code and then search it online. Even so, finding one is close to impossible again. The chance would be for the seller to know the part code and listed with this in the title, and that is not really going to happen, is it?  😦 What else do we have? Watchmakers… there is not even a slim chance your watchmaker can have the original one unless you live in Japan and  your watchmakers father was a watchmaker too, that worked for and with Citizen and has a lot of leftover parts in his attic. Yeah, I know… slim chances you are ever going to find that part this way. Another choice is to ask me. Yeah, right. Unless you want a bezel, a crown and two crystals I am actually basically useless. (update: I gave them away too so I have no more parts)

How to do it then? Your best bet would be to find a “donor” watch. That means finding a junk watch that has the part you are looking for, buying that watch and get the part. Of course, keep looking online for your original NOS part, you might get lucky in a month or maybe a few years… or probably never.

The last choice is to go for aftermarket parts. First find a good watchmaker, than see what he can do to help you…

Conclusion? Keep looking (day and night)… you can never know when you will find the needle in the haystack. Good luck!

Citizen Jet Autodater 120m – the first diver


It is always nice to know which watch was the first, the thinnest, the most this or that… It is extra nice to have one of each. With Citizen that is not so easy because there are so many models! One of the most collectable lines is the one of the diving watches, so which is the first real diver that Citizen made?

The first Japanese water resistant watch was the famous Parawater, launched in 1959. You can read about it HERE. But, that was not a real diver. In fact the first diving timepiece was this one, the one in this article, the Jet Autodater para 120m water. At about the same time another model was made, the Autodater 200m , the skin diver. Read about it HERE.

Here it is, the Citizen Parawater 120m Jet Autodater (ADRS51301-DA)

citizen jet auto dater 120m

Unfortunately the manufacture date can not be easily determined because there is no serial number but it is estimated to be somewhere around 1962 . Find out how to date a Citizen HERE.

The case is made entirely in polished stainless steel, with a screw in case back and a bidirectional friction type bezel. The crown is non screw in. The water resistance is obtained by using a rubber O ring and it is enough for 120m. Not bad I would say. 🙂 The acrylic crystal is domed and gives it a vintage feel. The dial is black, with luminous large trapezoidal hour markers and steel hands. The hour and minute hand have a black tip with a luminous central line where the black part is. The black painted bezel has a luminous dot at 12. On the black dial we see the date, located in a traditional way, at 3 o’clock.

The movement is a 19 J jet caliber, no hand winding. The date changes by advancing the hands pass midnight and back to 21, and again midnight… It is not a quick set date. The seconds don’t hack. So… not a phenomenal movement but one of my favorites. (the Jet – with a ring rotor and you can read about Jets HERE) This one is one of the earliest types, with no hand winding. Just a tool watch with a simple, robust movement.

citizen jet auto dater 120m

The strap that completes this awesome watch is a Tropic rubber one. Perfect match! Now, all I have to do is strap this piece of history on my wrist and take it diving! Well.. desk diving. 🙂

Citizen Crystal Seven para100mwater diver


Exactly one year ago I wrote about a fabulous watch, the Dandy Seven diver (read about it HEREand here we are today talking about it’s brother, the Crystal Seven diver. They were made in the same period, they share the same line (Seven), the same movement, and the same style, but each stands proud as powerful individual watch.

crystal seven vintage citizen diver

It is a decent sized watch, with a modern look and a strong vintage feel; maybe it is the shape of the case, maybe the colors, maybe the entire watch. By the way, it is made entirely of stainless steel. The SS bracelet I doubt it is the original one but it suits the watch very well, with those blue highlights, that match the minute chapter ring color perfectly. The front part of the case is brushed while all the rest is polished.

It is a diver watch (para 100m water) and as any diver watch that respects itself it has a bezel. This one is an aluminum bidirectional friction type with a luminous dot on 12. The dial is beautiful, grey, with a sunburst effect. The hours are marked with luminous material. The hands had luminous parts too but on mine they must have fallen out and to this day it was not yet relumed. The second hand has a luminous ball too. The minute chapter ring is blue with white 5 minutes dots.

The movement inside is the Citizen automatic 5204 calibre, with 27 jewels. It can also be winded by hand. The winding crown is made of stainless steel and signed CTZ. It is not a screw-in type. Due to this movement, the watch displays both the day of the week as well as the date. The day changes by advancing the hands past midnight while the date changes normally in the second position of the crown. The movement doesn’t hack.

One thing that differentiates it from it’s brother (the Dandy Seven) is the mineral crystal (hence the Crystal Seven name). On the other hand, Dandy Seven it fitted with an acrylic one.

All things considered it is a beautiful, rare diver, vintage and somehow modern at the same time.

Read more about other vintage Citizen divers HERE.

Citizen 150m 62-5370 & B52806


Citizen Diver OR-O B52806 or 62-5370 are, more or less, the same model. Both of them are difficult to find, no matter the condition, to find a NOS one… almost impossible. The 62-5370 is made for domestic market and the B52806 for export and has its own awesome engraved case back. So, they have different case backs, different hands sets and dial codes but they share some of these features sometimes (variants or marriage?). The second hand tip received a luminous ball for better visibility for the export model. The 62-5370 can be found with a simple second hand. The only obvious thing that is constantly different is the case back. The movement is Citizen cal. 5470 for 62-5370 and 5430 for B52806. I don’t see any other difference between these two calibres other than the swinging rotor.

citizen 62-5370 citizen B52806 (2)

I had to have both of them even though in the first place I got only the NOS export model (because of the beautiful case back).  Both of them are marked water proof 150 M in a period when the term Parawater was about to… unfortunately disappear. This water resistance is possible due to thick mineral crystal, screw in crown and case back. They ware made in ’69-’70 but the exact period is impossible to determine for the export model because it has no serial no. The 62-5370, on the other hand, has a serial engraved and the manufacturing date can easily be seen.

So… one model with variants or two distinct models? The debate might still be on but as far as I am concerned I will consider them variants of the same model and… have them both!

Read about the complete 150m Citizen diver collection HERE.

Complete Vintage Citizen 150m Divers


No Citizen collection can be considered a real collection until a 150m diver is included. This is the most recognizable diver line in vintage Citizen so sooner or later for sure one model will come up for sale, just in time for you to grab and never let go. In fact there are 7 different models that to the untrained eye look almost identical. One for every day of the week, I would say. Well.. now that you have one, you will soon feel the urge to get another one and another one, and then a better condition fist one, that you already have, and another one. Without even realizing, it soon becomes an obsession, to have them all, and to have them all in top condition! The hunt is on!

So, it is my pride and joy, my pleasure to introduce to you the entire 7 watches collection! 

vinatge citizen divers 150m

Let me tell you about them, in chronological order, starting from 1967 up to 1978:

  1.  Citizen Super Auto Dater, SADS 52801-Y was made in June 1967. It is my favorite. What is there not to like? It has a unibody case (the case back doesn’t come off), it has a top of the line 39 jewels Jet movement, calibre 1150, (read about Jet movements HERE) and it is marked Professional Parawater. The crown threads are on the outside of the crown tube. The case is shaped differently and it shows that a lot of effort was placed into designing and producing it. I just love the angles and the contrast between the brushed and the angled polished surfaces. Read about this model HERE. Is is on a Tropic strap. I didn’t see any on bracelet. I hardly saw any at all in fact. 🙂 Super rare!
  2. Citizen Crystal Date, AUDS 52802-Y OR-O was made in My 1968. Did you ever see a better case back? Maybe you think you did, but take a look at this one! I am sure you will love it! The hands are different then the rest because there is no “Mercedes” style hour hand. The mesh bracelet is awesome, the crown is as it is for the first model and starting with this model the top part of the case has now a circular brushed finish rather then a longitudinal one. The uni case was dropped and starting now the case back screws into place. Starting with this model the Jet movement was replaced with a centrally mounted swinging weight. This one has the most beautiful aged lume. Read about that HERE. The movement is the Citizen automatic calibre 5410.
  3. Citizen Diver OR-O B52806 or 62-5370 are the same model but the first one is the one to have, because of the beautiful engraved case back. The 62-5370 is made for domestic market and the B52806 for export. They have different case backs, different hands sets and dial codes even though they share some of these features sometimes. The second hand tip received a luminous ball for better visibility (The 62-5370 can be found with a simple second hand too) The only thing that is constantly different is the case back. The movement is Citizen cal 5470. I had to chose between these two and I decided in favor of the first one. You can’t beat that awesome diver engraved case back! It is marked water proof in a period when the term Parawater was about to… unfortunately disappear. Is was made in ’69-’70 but the exact period is impossible to determine because it has no serial no. The 62-5370 on the other hand, has one and the manufacturing date can easily be seen. Read about these two variants together HERE.
  4. Citizen 150m 68-5372, 4-740131-Y is made in May 1971. It is still marked “parawater”, for the last time in this line. Read about “parawater” HERE. Starting now the case is different again and the crown has the threads on the inside, not on the outside of the crown tube. It has a different shape too and it is made in stainless steel. The previous ones I think are only capped in SS. And this is when the case backs became… well… displaying a lot of information but… boring. It is powered by Citizen calibre 7470. vintage citizen 150m divers
  5. Citizen 150m 4-722410 Y is made in October 1973 and is the only one displaying the date as well as the day of the week. The movement is from the leopard family, calibre 7200. That is always nice to have. You can read about it HERE. The bezel insert got a thin crystal layer on top of the luminous dot making it more resistant to water and normal usage while giving it a special look with a black ring around it. The sweeping second hand is straight again. And, as I said before, no more “parawater”, time for internationally common used “water resistant”.
  6. Citizen 150m 62-6198, 4-600851 Y is made in June 1974 and got a luminous marker near the date window. Pay attention to the fake “aftermarket” bezel inserts that you can learn about HERE. The date can be printed in red and the rest is, more or less, the well known design we grew to love so much. The bracelet is the H style links. Read more about it HERE. The movement inside is the Citizen calibre 7000.
  7. Citizen 150m 52-0110 is one of the very first Citizen watches I had. It is in fact my birth year watch and my month also. 🙂 It is made in July 1978 and marks the end of an era, 1978, the last year for vintage Citizen watches. It is the the one that started this hunt a few years ago. It comes in various forms, even with an orange dial, maybe blue one? maybe an orange dial and blue bezel insert? (I think the “blue bezel inserts are in fact faded and originally black) Two dial variants 1977 and 1978 that you can read about HERE. You can also read more about this model HERE. The beating heart is the well known Citizen calibre 8210. 150m citizen vintage divers copy

And… the rest is history. 🙂 I hope you found you perfect 150m diver and if you didn’t, don’t give up, I promise you you will love it and the wait is worth it!

Read more about other awesome Citizen divers HERE.

PS – who knows… one day I might find out there is another one and maybe another one… So far, these are all I am aware of. 🙂

Vintage Citizen Watches Lume Patina


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
“Lume is a short term for the luminous phosphorescent glowing solution applied on watch dials. There are some people who “relume” watches, or replace faded lume. Formerly, lume consisted mostly of radium; however, radium is radioactive and has been mostly replaced on new watches by less bright, but less toxic compounds.

Common pigments used in lume include the phosphorescent pigments zinc sulfide and strontium aluminate. Use of zinc sulfide for safety related products dates back to the 1930s. However, the development of strontium oxide aluminate, with a luminance approximately 10 times greater than zinc sulfide, has relegated most zinc sulfide based products to the novelty category. Strontium oxide aluminate based pigments are now used in exit signs, pathway marking, and other safety related signage.

Strontium aluminate based afterglow pigments are marketed under brandnames like Super-LumiNova, watchlume, NoctiLumina, and Glow in the Dark (Phosphorescent) Technologies.”

vintage citizen diver lume

Vintage collectors grew up to appreciate a beautiful aged lume on their watches and a rich yellow patina, orange or brown is always desired if original and natural. Even some modern watches (Jeager leCoultre and Omega, to name a few) are made with “fake” patina, yellow luminous material. Some of the dials are called “tropical” because they also changed color in time due to exposure to sunlight in tropical areas (usually). Some say that the Sun is not the main factor to this process but the passing of time and the original formula of the pigments. Either way, I love a beautiful patina too, just like most of us. Most of the dials that age are made with radioactive material, like tritium or radium.

citizen-150m-diver-vintage

Citizen never used radioactive material on their vintage watches (1932-1978) but used some Promethium-147 after this date on some models but only for a few years. I am still looking for a watch made prior to 1978 that has it. It should be marked on the dial code P-JAPAN-P. They used this in small amount so the patina is only slightly influenced by this. I found this in a Citizen diver instruction manual: “Luminous Paint: Being a diver’s watch, luminous paint is used for this diver’s watch (200m) to facilitate time readability in a dark place. This luminous paint contains a trace quantity of radioactive substance pursuant to ISO safety standard. There is no problem for normal use; however, in the event that the watch glass has been damaged or broken, immediately carry it to the store where you purchased or to an authorized Citizen Dealer.” So, there are only traces of this material. No need to worry for radiation.

citizen 500m chrono master diver vintage

Most of the lume of vintage Citizen is still glowing brightly in the dark even today and keep, more or less, the same color as they had when they were made. Only a few of them get the desirable patina but making them so rare only makes the reward of finding one even greater. So, good luck finding the perfect Citizen patina! 🙂

UPDATE: Well… it seems that I had one 1978 diver with P-JAPAN-P 🙂 Read about it HERE.  Another watch I love, but it is made after 1978, is the Walter Wolf titanium fly back chronograph that you can read about HERE.

Citizen Auto Dater para40mwater Diver


Beautiful watch but such a difficult one to take a good picture of. Here it is the Citizen Auto Dater para40mwater, reference ADOS 3001-DM, Diver!

citizen autodater diver 40m ADOS 3001-DM

There are so many aspects of this watch that I like that I don’t know where to start from! Let me begin by saying that even though Citizen marked it so boldly “Diver” on the case back it is water proof only up to 40m. The unsigned crown is not a screw in type but the engraved case back is. The entire case is made of stainless steel, polished, with brushed lugs on the upper part. The case back, as mentioned before, screws in and is engraved with the Eagle motif and “Diver”, also “40m water proof” and “stainless steel” The ADOS 3001-DM reference number is there too, but no serial so an accurate dating of the watch is, unfortunately, impossible. As a result of my research I date this watch around 1965.

The dial is pure awesome! It is very dark satinated grey almost black. In bright light the sunburst effect is obvious but on low (normal) light it becomes matte pure black. Due to the domed mineral crystal the sunburst effect of the dial is enhanced and looks somehow… circular. The hands are simple, matching, with large luminous areas, the hour hand being shorter than the minute one. The sweeping central second hand is simple without any luminous material. The hour markers are applied and they glow in the dart too, just as the hands do. The bezel has no luminous dot at 12 but just a simple triangle. Speaking about the bezel, it is a bidirectional friction type and, as a particularity, it is a count down starting from 60, 50… all the way down to 10, 0. This way you can directly say how much time is there left out of an hour, not as usual the elapsed minutes.

Opening the watch we see the beautiful jet movement (read about these movements HERE). It has 21 jewels and can be winded by hand too. It can also display the date, in the widow at 3 o’clock.

The strap in this case is a vintage Tropic but it also looks gorgeous on nato, leather or stainless steel bracelet.

It is a beautiful piece, lovely addition to my diver collection and makes me so happy when I strap it on my wrist, especially on these sunny autumn days.

Read more about Citizen divers HERE.