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.

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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.

Citizen Jet Para Water Professional


I was and I still am intrigued by the fact that the lume on Citizen watches doesn’t seem to age like the one on Omega or Rolex or other collectable brands. In fact I lusted for an aged, yellow-brown lume for some time now, on a vintage Citizen and was not able to find a good one. They are either perfect green like new, or, on not well preserved pieces, dirty. It made no sense to me. How can I get a nice patina dial? Finally my dream came true with this awesome timepiece!

The Citizen Jet Para Water Professional

Inside the case back the model no reads: JTI30705I

citizen jet parawater professional

This watch was made in 1962 soon after the introduction of the first water resistant Japanese watch: the Parawater. It also has the Professional label, a rare clasp, a Jet movement and an awesome case back engraving. This was an age when watches had a practical use and not the jewelry that they (sometimes) are today.

The case is made entirely in SS, it is about 37mm and has a simple dial, three hands and no date. The lug hols make changing the original SS bracelet changes so easy! In fact this is a watch that looks good no matter what strap you throw at it: nato, mesh, leather, even rubber. The winding crown is also SS and it is unsigned. At first sight it is very similar with the Parawater I told you about, but this one is not made for water use, but for aviation?. An indication of the link to the aviation is the Jet airplane engraving on the back and the Professional label on the dial. Also a Jet logo is printed on the dial too (Jet movement). In fact the dial has 12, 3, 6 and 9 printed, and the markings: “Citizen Jet, Para Water, Professional”. The hour markers are trapezoidal,  raised and polished. They are filled with (now) the beautifully aged luminous material and so are the matching dauphine hands. All things considered it is a beautiful, simple, balanced face that I like a lot! I have seen very few examples of this model and some of them have an arrow shaped hour hand and a thicker minute one with a flat tip.

The movement is the usual Jet movement with a circular swinging rotor. It runs at 18,000bph as all of them do. This one is the first one made, launched a few months earlier, in October 1961. My watch in made (3-4 months later) in March 1962. It is an automatic (hand winding also possible) with non hacking sweeping central seconds hand. It is called Citizen calibre 3010, Jet movement, and was the first movement that Citizen produced in relatively high numbers. The interesting fact about the rotor is that in earlier types it is marked “Automatic” rather than the usual “Autodater”. The date was added a year later, and so did the name “Autodater”.

And to add to the story… the clasp is marked: “Easy-O-Matic, Citizen Band, Pat.Pend. Stainless Steel” making it even more interesting if that was even possible. 🙂

Undersea Treasure – Citizen 150m 52-0110


The emotional connection with our watches is in fact the main force that drives us into collecting them. A 1969 great Moon landing story made the Omega Speedmaster the icon that it is today. Same goes with “Paul Newman” Rolex Daytona, Heuer Monaco and many others. Patek takes the emotional connection to an art form level. Well, now we have a great Citizen story too!

Starting from this post and then with the contribution made on the Vintage Citizen Watches group page on Facebook  by Renato I am here to introduce to you this great story of the Citizen Undersea Treasure. Our hero is the vintage Citizen 150m diving watch model 52-0110. I also contacted the newspaper and Stephanie was happy to provide me all the information they had so far regarding this. Unfortunately they were more into the interesting situation and not into watches so a lot of details I had to figure out myself.

You can learn more details about this model (Citizen 150m 52-0110) in HERE.

Neil Blakers of Cromer found this awesome watch while “strolling along the beach on Saturday afternoon”  on Long Reef Beach in Australia.  “I realized it was a watch but the face and body were covered in barnacles. It looked as though it had once been growing on a rock or at the bottom of the ocean and been thrown up by a heavy surf” he said. He treated the found object with lemon and grapefruit juice only to clearly notice that the watch was still ticking. In the pictures below the seconds hand is in a different position so the watch is for sure still alive. That was great news indeed!  Neil understood the importance of his find and took the watch to Citizen Watches Australia at Brookvale who forwarded it to the Tokyo Head Office where they determined at the Product Quality Section of their Tanashi Factory that the watch was made in 1977. Based on my knowledge about vintage Citizen divers it is safe to declare that the exact model number is 52-0110, type 1 dial variant. Read here about this dial.  The watch was found in 1983 but it is unclear for how long it stayed submerged into the salty waters of the Pacific Ocean. Some researchers think that based on the way it looks we can assume it was “diving” for maybe 2-3 years.

citizen 150m automatic diver

In the picture we can see that the watch is still attached to the red nato strap so I will wear mine (same model, same year) like that for the next days. 🙂

citizen-lost-in-the-ocean-australia-52-0110-diver-red-nato

The nato strap and the fact it got lost there make me believe that a surfer lost it while riding a huge wave. It is a nice imagine to picture even though there is no clear evidence this is the true. In the end the mystery is the salt and pepper that makes a good story.  The water resistance of this model is 150m, it has a thick mineral crystal that is well fitted into the case and a screw in large crown. The caseback also screws in so in my mind there is no doubt that these are real tool watches. My 52-0110 diver was pressure tested by my watchmaker and to my excitement passed with flying colors. The movement inside is the automatic Citizen calibre 8210A with 21 jewels.

Read more about Vintage Citizen Divers HERE. 

Citizen Divers and Tropic Straps


Anyone interested in vintage divers recognize what a Tropic strap is. The others should know that this is a certain type of rubber band, made  in Switzerland during the 1960s and 1970s.  They were later manufactured in China and Hong Kong too, using the original molds and same materials. The originals are signed “TROPIC” and marked “SWISS MADE” and are typically fitted with an “INOX” or “ACIER” signed buckle. Citizen used the multiple perforated model with a single sliding strap keeper as seen in the pictures below. They are marked “Tropic” and the lug width (let’s say “20mm”) is indicated. “MOD DEP” that stands for “Modèle Déposé” or registered design. The reference no. is also visible on one end. They are made from a very pliable rubber for a comfortable fit and durability. The band is 5mm thick where it meets the watch and on the clasp end and 2.6mm thick at the tail end.

Here it is how a Citizen stainless steel buckle should look like on one of these Tropic straps. My opinion (from the data I have so far) is that most of them came with the “Acier” or “Inox” signed piece.

citizen tropic strap

Not only Citizen were fitted on Tropic straps but Rolex, Tudor, Blancpain, Omega, Longines and many others too. They were all aware  of the Tropic quality. Soft, relatively thin, very pliable, durable and a gorgeous feel and look on the wrist. vintage citizen diving tropic strapYou have a ’60-’70 vintage Citizen Diver? Get a Tropic strap for it! It will be the perfect match!

Read more about vintage Citizen diving watches HERE.

Underwater Diving Watches Quartz War


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

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

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

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

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

So, who won?!

Citizen Leopard 28800 4-720032TA


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

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

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

Citizen leopard calibre 7200 36000

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

Read more about Citizen Leopard 36000 here:

https://vintagecitizenwatches.com/2014/11/22/citizen-leopard-36000/