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

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)

Citizen Glorious


Citizen… GLORIOUS ! 

2014 March 13 – this is exactly the date when I decided to really start searching and get myself a Citizen Glorious! It took me 3 years, 5 months and 26 days to have it in my hands. During this time, after seeing literally over one million pictures and spending at least 2 hours each day looking at Citizen watches, I can say that I have seen only 4 or 5 for sale but none was good enough to actually make me pull the trigger. Fast forward to 2016 August: I finally found it. It looked NOS and had the original strap, buckle and tag! My heart raced and my hands got all sweaty while reading the description and looking at the pictures. It was really expensive and I was sure it will get even more expensive as the auction will take it’s course. Soon after discovering it, I contacted my friend Eric and told him about the watch, that I found it. I needed an inside man. Well… Eric is THE Glorious friend I have inside. (side note: not enough beer in the world to thank him enough 🙂 ) Unfortunately the seller decided to end the auction early… What a sad day! So sad… I started asking questions and even though Japanese guys are not really talkative, I managed to find out, with the help of another friend, that the watch will be relisted. I was determined to make it mine. The time has come for me to put my money where my mouth was. I knew I was fighting in the big league, with the serious Japanese collectors, but I was prepared for this day. I trained a lot. 🙂  So… in a few days, the watch was back on-line. I made up my mind regarding my highest bid that I was willing to commit to, and I added a little more. Then I added just a little bit more. 🙂 As the auction was about to end the price got higher and higher and higher… Obviously… I won!

In a few long days, that felt like years, the watch was finally here! Needles to say that I checked the tracking at least twice a day. I opened the box and here it was in all it’s glory: THE GLORIOUS!

(If you want to read about another great find, my Holly Grail Citizen, you can do it here, The Citizen Chrono Master 500m diver. )

citizen-glorious

So… The Glorious, reference 4-770285 Y.  Stainless steel case with the perfect finishing. I have never seen another Citizen case polished like this. So precise, so… beautiful. Some say that Grand Seiko is the best when it comes to case polishing, but maybe, just maybe they didn’t see this. The buckle is signed with GC logo and marked stainless steel. No wonder that one buckle alone sold a few years ago with over 700 USD. The black strap was original too but I changed it with a Citizen brown one for the photo shooting because the black one was almost to fragile to handle all the fuss. It was placed for safe keeping along with the GC tag.  The winding crown is SS too, with the GC logo. It is made of two parts. The outer part winds it (first position) and sets the time (second position). The inner part (the one with the logo) is used for changing the day and the date. Keep the watch vertical and press it. The date will jump. Turn the watch twelve side down and press it and the day changes alternating English and Japanese.

The dial is simple, white. No luminous material, no useless writing. It doesn’t need to brag about it. So Japanese…  The applied polished Citizen and GC logo and printed in black  is just enough: Automatic 36000. It is after all a high beat one, 10 per second. And it is no ordinary Leopard. It is the Glorious. In fact it is powered by in-house calibre 7750, gold plated, that has a daily rate in 5 position better than COSC of today. It was guaranteed to be at -2 +3 S/ day! Mine after all these years (made in 1971 September) seems to run at +1S/ day.

Measures (as from Stephen’s blog article HERE ) for Citizen watches: 

Standard            Excellent               Glorious

  • Mean daily rate in the 5 positions

S. -3.0 +12.0      E. -1.0 +10.0        G. -2.0 +3.0

  • Mean variation of the daily rate

S. 3.2                    E. 2.2                    G. 1.8

  • Maximum variation of daily rate in the same position on two consecutive days

S. 9.0                    E. 6.0                    G. 4.0

  • Difference between horizontal and vertical positions

S. ± 12.0               E. ± 8.0               G. ± 6.0

  • Greatest difference between mean daily rate and any individual rate

S. 18.0                   E. 12.0                 G. 5.0

  • Variation of rate per 1 degree centigrade

S. ± 1.0                  E. ± 0.6               G. ± 0.3

  • Rate resumption

S. ± 9.0                  E. ± 5.0               G. ± 4.0

Also, in the same article written by Stephen, you can see the evolution of the best Citizen calibres, starting from the awesome hand winding Chronometer and going through the Chrono Master range with the Elite special and Superior Chronometer and then the Leopards  with the Highness.

Each movement is marked with a serial number, and so is the case back. Unfortunately, Citizen doesn’t have an archive to match the two serials. Well.. the case back… beautiful again. What can I say, I love the way it looks, with the gold medallion, like the Chrono Masters. This time we don’t have an eagle inlay but a GC one.

citizen-glorious-vintage

What else? I could talk a lot about it, the simple, elegant look, so understated beauty and power at the same time, so clean and perfect in every way… How can someone not love it? Is this the best vintage Citizen? It could be.

The Glorious also came in a few other options. Here are a few pictures from the catalogue with some variants, a date only and a solid gold? (or is it Gold Filed? – EGF 100µ?) one. You cab see the price at the time 55 It also came in a slightly different case design and one with dark blue dial. Click the pictures to magnify them for better details.

citizen-vintage-glorious-leopard-copy

To make a long story short, because I could go on and on and on… this is…

The glorious…  GLORIOUS!

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 Custom V2 automatic 21 jewels Blackie


How could Citizen not focus on younger customers? Of course they did! So… around 1970 the company introduced to the public the V2 line of watches. Most of them were black coated and some were even made in a wooden case. The design was fresh and fun.

citizen v2 automatic vintage 21 jewels blackie

This one is not black coated but dark olive green coated. In fact I think it looks better this way because of the golden accents it has: the crown, the hands and the dial itself with golden hour markers. It has a simple design, with barely visible crown when looked at. The day-date window situated at 3 o clock somehow breaks the perfect symmetry.

The case, as well as the entire bracelet, is made of aluminum alloy that is very light and it is dark green coated for a better protection. In fact Citizen claimed that is is even harder to scratch than steel to suit the young life stile of their target customers. You can read about this HERE.

The movement is an automatic (cal. 8200A), with 21 jewels. It can be manually winded too. It displays the time as well as the date and the day of the week. Setting the time is done in the third position of the crown, winding it in the first and setting the date and the day in the second. Turning the crown one direction will set the date while the other way will change the day. Easy enough.

Simple, cool looking watch that suits the purpose: tell time in a fun, fresh way.

Read about another V2 Watch that I like a lot HERE.

Great Japan Watch Company


Here it is a very special watch. It is one real piece of history and I will let you know why. 🙂 It is a small watch, one of the first wristwatches made by Citizen. It is in amazing shape for its age. You can read about a similar piece HERE.

citizen vintage watch

With the help of my online Japanese speaking friends so far I have this:

“During the war roman letters on domestic was outlawed so Citizen adopted the Japanese name. Dai Nihon tokei kabushiki kaishya 1938. In 1948 they were able to change the name back to “Citizen””

“大日本時計株式会社 (it means Great Japan watch company)” was an old name of CITIZEN in 1938-1948.”

“In those days, Japanese government commanded CITIZEN to change company name. So, this watch is very rare.”

Well… now we know. Do we really need more words on this amazing piece? Maybe not, but if you have more info on this, please let me know in the comments below.

Special Citizen Center Second


I wrote before about Center Second and I find myself writing about another one again. Here it is one of the most elegant, about 30mm diameter, Special Citizen Center Second. It was intended as both a men and a ladies watch but by today’s standards I would say ladies would find it more attractive due to its size.

citizen center second special lady

This is a NOS watch, with original strap and buckle and it is so nice to find one like this, the way it was meant to be in the first place. Lets not forget that it is almost 70 years old! The bezel details are really sharp and so are the crown threads. It is a very nice feeling to wind it, gripping the new crown and turning it. All the details are here, making it a Special one indeed.

The dial, seen through the acrylic crystal, is beautiful, in two shades, a central one that has the writing “Special Citizen Center Second” and an outer part that has the applier golden hour markers, arabic numerals and dots for each minute. The three hands are are also golden.

The “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. This watch can be dated around 1951. The calibre is a 10.5 ligne (23.30mm) one and can be made with 8,11, 16 or 17 jewels. It was a development of Citizen’s first wristwatch made in 1931, (read about it HERE) which was developed all the way up to 1955. The earlier ones had a sub-second dial, then the Center Second models were introduced in 1948 as the “New Citizen”.  The “Special Citizen” was the second version of the center second models.

Read more about Center Second watches HERE

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.