NOS VCW service – Shine & Alarm Citizen


Most of the times servicing an used watch is not an easy task. You can get a dirty movement with a worn out parts, bended and rusted small pieces that are hard, next to impossible to restore or source. It can be a nightmare because a lot of times the watchmaker needs to evaluate the risks and choose the most safe way even though the result will be far from perfect. But, when we are dealing with NOS (new old stock) watches the situation is way different. In a good way, of course!

Here we have two new watches even though they were made about 50 years ago.

  1.  Citizen Shine – read about it HERE.
  2.  Citizen Alarm disk – read about it HERE.

After stripping down the movements they were cleaned, oiled and reassembled. No new pars needed, no, polish needed, there was no rust, no accidents along the way. This is the best you can get both as a collector and as a watchmaker.

Bottom line, and my advice to you when getting a Vintage Citizen Watch is trying to get one in the best condition you can, it will save a lot of money, time and stress along the way. 😉

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Citizen Blackie – coated watches


Citizen was always innovative and was never afraid of trying new technologies. So, in 1970 they started experimenting black coating their watches. They also coated their watches in a similar dark color, something more like a dark olive green. The reason for coating their watches was the same reason manufacturers are doing it today: it looks really good. They also tried to find ways to protect the case and bracelet material underneath. Most of these coated watches were made of a very light alloy, that is not really scratch resistant so the coating comes as a great addition.

In order for the public to buy them, with great confidence, Citizen promoted this “harder than steel” surface with some samples, where you can get a treated case and a scraping instrument attached to it. You were kindly advice to try it yourself. Scratch it!

The label reds: “New BLAKIE. Try testing hardness by scraping with a coin.”

blackie Citizen vintage watches

So, beautiful and resistant.

As a side note (after seeing a lot of used Citizen coated watches I can tell you that only the NOS and mint ones have really passed the test of time and most of the used ones are losing their coating on the lugs or sharp edges).

Here are a few of my NOS coated watches, black and dark green, side by side, and in the smaller picture is a part of Mikko’s collection. Thank you Mikko! Awesome collection, like always your contribution is greatly appreciated! citizen blackie vintage citizen watches coated

Thank you Citizen for giving us the chance to experience this material too. I love it!

Read about one of the very first Blackies HERE.

1952 – awesome video about Citizen


My friend Tomoyoshi posted this video on the Vintage Citizen Watches on Facebook and I just had to share it here. I wish I knew Japanese but even though I don’t, the video is worth watching just like that. So beautiful!

So…. here you are guys, click the LINK HERE and take a look!

vintage citizen watches

How beautiful is this?!

See another wonderful video ( a commercial) made by Citizen HERE.

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 – Watch Oil Kit


My friend Hako was kind enough to provide me these photos of an interesting collectors item, the vintage official Citizen watch oil kit, used for servicing the movements. Thank you Hako!  Apart for the oils themselves, the kit has brushes and a booklet with instructions for using the items found inside the box. I will write the information written on it below.

vintage citizen oil kit service

HANDLING INSTRUCTION FOR CITIZEN WATCH OIL

Citizen has designated the following 6 types of oil as oil to be used for Citizen watches. These oils particularly excel in quality and performance. Be sure to use the Citizen exclusive watch oil on Citizen watches for preserving the superior performance of the watch during a prolonged period.

1. Synt-A-Lube oil

Since it is a compound oil of superior performance, there is no worry of the characteristics becoming inferior due to deterioration, aging, etc., regardless for it being used for a prolonged time. 

Usage portion: Dial side train wheels, jeweled pallet fork, escapement. 

Remarks: Use the oil by transferring a small amount to the saucer of the stand type oiler. Be sure to clean the saucer and replace the oil at least once a week even though the saucer is not dirtied. 

2. Synt-V-Lube oil

Similar to the Synt-A-Lube Oil, it is a compound oil of superior performance. The viscosity is higher than the Synt-A-Lube oil.

Usage portion: Bridge side, day and date mechanism and second hand stopping device. 

Remarks: Same as in Synt-A-Lube oil. 

3. Citizen watch oil CH-1

The Citizen watch oil CH-1 is a mixture of special grease and special solid lubricant and there is no worry of the characteristics becoming inferior due to deterioration, aging, etc., although it may be used for a long period of time and a stabilized mainspring torque is maintained constantly. 

Usage portions: Hand winding mainspring

Use the exclusive brush with blue color mark on application of oil. 

4. Citizen watch oil CA-1

The Citizen watch oil CA-1 guarantees a stabilized slip torque which is particularly important for automatic winding an has been developed so a stabilized mainspring torque is maintained and used also on parts of the train wheels. The mixing rate of the solid lubricant differ from that of the Citizen watch oil CG-1. 

Usage portions: Part of train wheels. 

Automatic winding mainspring.

Used on Cal. Nos.:

150*, 220*, 140*, 24**, 060*, 03**, 11**, 41**, 52**, 54**and 64**.

Use the exclusive brush with green color mark on application of oil. 

5. Citizen watch oil CA-2

The Citizen watch oil CA-2 has been developed particularly for use on Citizen automatic wrist watches which have their mainspring torque increased. Its composition differs entirely from that of CA-1 and is a compound oil excelling in stability with no oil flows and is suited for heavy loads. 

Usage portions: Automatic winding mainspring.

Used on Cal. Nos.: 

72**, 74**, 76**, 77**, 66**, 65**, 60**.

Use the exclusive brush with yellow color mark on application of oil.

6. Citizen silicon oil and lubricator

The Citizen Parawater watch utilizes the elasticity of the O-Ring and packing and maintains a high watterresistant capability. The silicon oil acts to further promote the superior waterresistant proprieties of the O-Ring and packing so it should be always used in disassembly and assembly.

Usage portions: O-Ring

Packing

How to apply the Silicon Oil

(1) O-Ring and packing

a. A suitable amount of silicon oil should be soaked in the soft sponges which is fixed to the top and bottom of the silicon oil lubricator beforehand. When oiled once, it can be used for a certain period. 

b. When applying silicon oil to the O-Ring and packing, hold the o-Ring or packing with the lubricator and turn the cover of the lubricator by a 1/4 turn. This will allow applying a suitable amount of silicon oil. 

Remarks: Be careful so dust will not mix into the silicon oil lubricator. After usage, be sure to keep the silicon oil container cover securely tightened. 

(2) O-Ring for crown

Oil to the crown O-Ring is applied directly with an exclusive brush or by applying a suitable amount of oil to the pipe of the watchcase.

For further instruction on oiling portions of watches, please consult to the “CITIZEN TECHNICAL INFORMATION” 

citizen watch oil kit service

I am sure you will love the info and the pictures, just like I do. It is always nice to discover new things about our passion: watches, Vintage Citizen Watches.

Read more interesting facts about Citizen HERE.

Diamond Flake, Diamond Flake Date, Flake Date


Diamond Flake… yes… the famous Citizen Diamond Flake (DF) had two younger brothers, the Diamond Flake Date (DFD) and the Flake Date (FD). The older, well known brother held the record of the worlds thinnest three hands watch, with a a movement as thin as 2.75 mm. Now, that is slim indeed! Citizen named this calibre 0700 and had 25 jewels and was gold plated.

citizen diamond flake dateAll three of them are made of stainless steel and are powered by the same base manual wind movement. The crystal is acrylic and the dial is simple and elegant for all of them. Obviously the DFD and FD have a date complication that adds some thickness to the overall appearance of the watch. This can be easily seen in the picture below.

citizen diamond flake, date flake

The shape of the lugs and the lugs width are also different. The crowns are similar and are not signed. On top of the added date, the youngest of the three are also marked Parawater for 40m.

diamond flake, diamond flake date, date flake

The case backs give clear indication to their age: 1963, 1964, 1966. The middle one had a beautiful diver engraving (the Parawater logo, not an indication that you should take it diving). The movements look almost identical but the third one is no longer gold plated and it only has 22 jewels.  The first one is Citizen calibre 0700, the second calibre 2700 while the last one is the calibre 2710 and it is no longer marked Diamond Flake. They all run at 18,000 bph.

citizen diamond flake thin watch diamond flake date flake

All three are beautiful watches, simple and elegant and a nice addition to any Citizen collection. Even though the DF is the famous one, the youngest two (DFD and FD) are more rare and more difficult to find in a good condition.

If you want to read more about the oldest one, the DF, click HERE.

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 Phynox – the first automatic Citizen


Do you want a dress watch? One that is an important part of Citizen history? Maybe one that is really rare? Look no more, here it is the awesome Citizen Auto!

Citizen well known Jet movements are often believed to be the earlier automatics that the company produced, prior to the swinging central mounted rotor, BUT, in fact that is not true. Well, even before the Jet, Citizen had a traditional, more common type automatic movement and this is the watch to have it!

citizen auto 20 jewels phynoxThe case is made of stainless steel, and so is the screw in caseback making it water protected. Overall it has a clean design, with applied hour markers, three hands, central sweeping seconds, no luminous material. Nothing fancy about the design, just a clean elegant look. But, let’s take the case back off!

Here is the movement! And that is the first automatic movement Citizen ever produced, calibre 3KA. Citizen had to come up with a self winding mechanism as a response to the first Japanese automatic made by Seiko in 1955. At the time Seiko was the main competitor and most of the time ahead of Citizen, so the company needed to keep up. They made this starting from May 1958 for only about 3-4 years (not sure about this). Citizen stoped making it because of the introduction of the fabulous (in my opinion) Jet movements that were made from ’61 to ’67. Read about Jets HERE. So, here is the Citizen AUTO! In fact it has a manual wind base movement that was added a large bridge that covers almost all of the inner parts. On this bridge the swinging bidirectional winding weight was placed so the watch became an automatic. Cal. 3KA runs at 18,000 vibration (5 vibration/sec) and has a power reserve of about 35 hours. It can also be winded by hand. Just give it a few turns of the crown and the seconds will tick away easily.

citizen-auto-vintage

Read more about other important Citizen watches HERE.

Citizen Alarm Disk 19 J Phynox Center Second


Citizen had three calibers for their alarm watches. The first one, and probably one of the most beautiful timepieces, is this little part of history. Watches powered by this movement were made around 1960. The first one seems to have come out in 1958? making it the first one of a long successful series of alarm watches.

vintage citizen alarm phynox disk

The case is gold filled and has an elegant look, with beautifully shaped lugs and well chosen crowns. Speaking of the crowns, the lower one sets the time and winds the movement. The upper one is for setting the alarm and winds it as well. This is the same for all Citizen alarms. The entire case is polished except for the snap on stainless steel case back that has a central circular brushed surface. The case back can be placed only in a certain position so that the hammer of the movement could strike the pin attached on it. In fact this is how the alarm works. (To hear a Citizen alarm, click this LINK) I like the way the inside of the case back is finished and engraved. The strap is black, original too, and the buckle is, as expected, gold plated (filled?).

The dial is made out of two parts, one central disk that rotates and has a red triangle that is the alarm pointer and the outer part that actually has two concentric shades due to the way it was finished. The hands and the applied hour markers are gold to complete this beautiful look. There is not much text on it except for “Citizen Alarm” and “19 jewels Phynox” and in the lower part “Japan”.

The movement is the most important part of the watch and the reason why this watch is a real success, the first Citizen alarm movement. It is the manual wind Citizen calibre 980, 19 jewels, 3 adj, 18,000 bph. Very beautiful and working like a champ.

citizen alarm disc vintage

The blue central disk watch above has a special case-back, made of two connecting layers, the top part having 6 holes and the entire piece acts like a resonance chamber so the sound of the alarm is really, really loud!

update: another version I found online is this one, black dial with contrasting off-white central disk. Notice the red and blue writing on the dial! Beautiful! The case is gold plated. citizen alarm dick black vintageBottom line, it is a gorgeous watch with a wonderful movement, a real time capsule and one of the most important watches Citizen made. Every collector should have one.

Read more about another simple, no date, vintage citizen alarm watch HERE. The rest of the alarms (date or no date, elegant or sportier) you can find HERE.

Citizen center second


Sometimes less is more and this is true when talking about this watch, the first Citizen equipped with a central sweeping hand and not the usual (at that time) eccentric seconds. Starting with this model all the following watches were like this, without small seconds. So, it was an important milestone in watchmaking.

citizen center secondThe “Center Second” came in many versions, and even a solid gold one, and a total of 6-7 generations for about 10 years. The first one was produced in 1948. All of them were running at 18,000 bph and came  equipped with 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17 and even 19 jewels. The Center Seconds are non-hacking and don’t have a date complication. During this time they became water protected and starting from 1956 they had the Citizen Parashock system installed.

The first watch presented here is ParaShock and Water Protected and is made in about 1961. The case back is SS and screws in even though most of them had snap on case backs.  I love the simplicity of the pale white dial with gold accents! The Citizen “C” logo at 12, the hour markers and the hands are all golden while all the rest of the marking are printed in black.

Here are a few pictures from catalogues showing different calibres:

citizen center second

And here it is in a pocket watch form, with original chain attached: citizen pocket watch center secondBottom line, it is an important watch in the Citizen history and a great elegant timepiece itself. Every collector should have one.

Read about more simple Citizen watches HERE.