Vintage Watches Dictionary Buying Guide


You love watches! Good for you, we all do. You can no longer ignore the call and you know the moment has come to dive into this wonderful vintage watches wonderland. But, be aware, diving in this Ocean is nor risk free. Close your eyes and see the old ship and the drunk pirates. Take a good look at the waves, the wind… There are sharks, stinging jelly fishes, singing blonde mermaids and a lot of other hazards made for you to lose your sense of reality and drown into the deep dark waters and never surface again. So… open your eyes and ears and take all necessary precautions swimming here. This beautiful Ocean is deep and can be really dangerous.

So… the Top Ten commandments for any WIS greenhorn. This is the least you should know before even approaching the Vintage Watches waters… (Vintage Citizen Watches included):

  1. Tropical – This should be the first undisputed one. When you hear the term “Tropical” just turn around and run as fast as you can. Most of the time “Tropical” means a badly deteriorated dial, maybe baked in the oven, tampered with to the point of becoming garbage. Since the dial is (probably) the most important part of a watch, you just don’t want anything labeled “tropical”. “Spider dials” and other similar terms included. Leave these watches for the old pirates who know their stuff.
  2. Never polished – Oh, yes! Never polished means most of the time that the watch was badly abused and is full of dents and scratches. Who knows what’s inside?! Better to leave it be. Walk away from “Never polished”. At the same time, walk away from “Polished”. You just need an honest watch.
  3. Rare and Ultra mega rare, Unique – Well… maybe it is rare but that doesn’t actually makes it valuable. Let the rare watches for the ones in the know. Keep it simple, keep it common, keep is safe.
  4. Collectable – Everything is collectable. So any watch is like this and “collectable” means nothing else than that the seller is trying to make an extra buck for this watch you are interested in. Is it advertised as “collectable”? Yes, it is, and so are all the other watches. Don’t let people tell you what is collectable for you or not.
  5. Project watch for restoration – This is a NO GO! This means that if you get it you will go mad or even die before restoring it. This is not easy and you will never make this project watch what you were made to believe you will. Project watches are not for you. Go away. Spend your time and money elsewhere.
  6. Mint and NOS – Mint watches and NOS pieces should be never opened, never serviced, no dings, no scratches and perfect in every way. Yes, this is the way to get them if you are lucky. Aim for them but don’t overpay for such a piece because once you start wearing it, the watch will no longer be NOS and Mint.
  7. Box and papers – Though is nice to have your vintage watch with box and papers this is not a must. Most of them don’t. Back in the days people didn’t care about the box and the bought the watch for wearing as they are supposed to be used, not for collecting dust in a bank safe for investing purpose as nowadays. So… box and papers, cool but not mandatory.
  8. Good investment – Really?! If it is such a good (once in a lifetime opportunity) investment, then why the seller does’t keep it himself? Watches can be good investment when you know, after a lot of years of learning the hard way and in the end… it all comes up to luck. Don’t be fooled with the “investment” value of any watch. Buy and wear what you like.
  9. Water proof – Just forget about even showering with your vintage diving watch unless you service it and water test it at a trusted watchmaker. Jus’t don’t!
  10. Homage watch, inspired by… – Do NOT buy fake watches! Ever! End of story.

Bottom line: If you have experienced friends, ask for help. Ask for help but decide for yourself. What do you like, when are you gonna wear the watch, what is your budged? Learn about the model you are looking for as much as you can. Do your homework and buy the seller rather than the watch. Yes, I know it is not easy and it seems overwhelming but we all had to start somewhere and we all learn day by day. You will find so much joy and beauty here, friends, you will make cherished memories… enjoy the Vintage Watch World! Have fun doing it and do’t take it so seriously. And one more thing…. never forget… the Grail, the Perfect watch, the “exit” watch is not real.

Citizen Guy – instagram here

 

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Vintage Citizen Crowns


We have so many details that we love when we look at our watches. Some of them are in the dial, some of them hidden underneath the case back and others are nothing more than these small round parts that we use to interact with them, the famous and indispensable winding crowns.

Citizen made a huge variety of watch models, had a lot of watch lines and of course… so many crowns, in different colors, materials, shapes, sizes, engraved or not. In this article I will write about ten interesting facts about Vintage Citizen Watches crowns.

Top 10:

  1. They can be made of different materials such as, but not limited to:  aluminum alloy, stainless steel, gold, titanium…
  2. Not all the times the crown material matches the watch case material.
  3. They can be coated (black, green, gold, gold plated, silver plated…) or made of solid material
  4. They have a huge variety of shapes and sizes
  5. Some of them are unmarked, some are engraved “C”, or “CTZ” or for special models “CH” – Citizen Highness, “GC” – Glorious Citizen
  6. The non – branded ones were first, then came the “C” and the last ones were “CTZ”. These types overlap.
  7. Some are screw-in type, some are not
  8. They can be made of one part or have two parts (as CH or GC – that have a push button as the central part)
  9. The same watch model can sometimes be fitted with slightly different crowns
  10. We will never know all the facts about them.

Conclusion:

Unless you know exactly the model, you have a NOS one, or some catalogue pictures… unfortunately you can never be sure what crown that specific watch is supposed to have. This search and documentation is also the curse and the blessing when collection vintage watches, and Vintage Citizen Watches. Enjoy the journey and share your findings (as a comment here or on the Vintage Citizen Watches Facebook Group so others can learn and grow too!

Opening a Citizen CM 500m diver


Maybe this is the most useless “do it yourself” article ever. Why? Because there are only two more guys I know about that have a Citizen Chronomaster 500m. (Hello Howard and Jose! 🙂 )  There are only 15 watches I found online in all my years of being borderline obsessed with them. I have two and the exact one in this article is available for sale at this very moment.

Anyway, let’s dive right into it!

Let’s pretend you have the watch (congratulation if you do!) and without going to the watchmaker, because you get bored on your Christmas / New Year vacation, you decide you have nothing else better to do than spending your time removing the movement of the most rare and expensive Vintage Citizen Watch ever.

First thing you have to do is have the watch in your hand, remove the strap / bracelet /nato… and look for the right instruments. A watchmaker knife, some tweezers  and a small screw driver, a suction cup and a loupe would be great. As you already know this is a unibody case, so the case back doesn’t come of. This is to further ensure the 500m, eliminating a weak link (the case back).

Use the knife to (carefully) force the bezel out. Just stick it under it (I use a small cotton fabric to wrap around the blade so I can protect the watch from scratches) and put a little force using the lug as a lever. It will pop right out. Be careful not to lose the small metal spring that is located in a small space and inserted in a hole at 4 o clock under the bezel. It is there so that we can have the unidirectional 60 clicks action of the diving bezel. Then remove the tension ring that holds the crystal, using the same knife. No fabric this time because there is no space. Take your time, it is not difficult at all.

Because you already have the suction cup, just use it to lift the crystal. Something sticky will do the same thing. Now use the magnifier and the tweezers or / and the small screwdriver to remove the dial bezel ring and the rubber seal that is under the crystal. Good! Now unscrew the crown, turn the watch face down and rotate the crown…. the movement will fall! Be careful on what it falls onto and do not touch the dial or bend the hands. If you want to make sure this doesn’t happen you should remove the hands before turning the watch dial side down. (that is for a different article).

Congratulation! You did it!

Now, put it back together! LOL!

Read more about this awesome watch HERE

An inside view of Citizen Watch co, seen by VCW


For years, I’ve been collecting vintage Citizen watches. I spend a considerable amount of time researching, collecting, buying, selling as well as restoring and servicing these wonderful timepieces. Sooner or later, it was bound to happen.

Yes, I had the chance to travel to Tokyo, Japan and be a guest at Citizen Watch co. Earlier this year, the company introduced a fascinating new facility – the Citizen Museum. I had the honor of being invited to visit this institution and admire the impressive collection from the company’s watchmaking history.

Let me start by saying that we cannot talk about Citizen without taking into consideration that this is a quintessentially Japanese brand, with the nation’s philosophy and lifestyle encoded in its DNA. Japan is definitely a must-see country. We’re all familiar with martial arts, Buddhism and Shinto. We love bonsai, ikebana, origami and, of course, Japan also means Samurais and Geisha, doesn’t it? It’s all of those things and so much more: respect, simplicity, tradition, work ethics and pride, innovation, art, philosophy… you can find it all in Japan and, indeed, in the wonderful world of Vintage Citizen Watches.

One hundred years ago, the Citizen Watch Co. Ltd. was born under the name Shokosha Watch Research Institute. Mr Shimpei Goto, the mayor of Tokyo, named the first watch “CITIZEN” with the hope that the watch, a luxury item in those times, would become widely available to ordinary citizens and be sold throughout the world.

His ambition materialized. “People appreciated and benefited from the institute’s results”. Prophetic words, indeed. With this statement, the seeds were planted for what would become the world’s largest watch manufacturer. In 1924, the first pocket watch bearing the Citizen moniker was produced. One of the first pieces produced by the company was purchased by Emperor Showa, Prince Regent at the time (Emperor Taisho era). In 1930, Yosaburo Nakajima laid the foundations for the Citizen watch empire. In 1936 the company expanded beyond the boundaries of Japan, exporting watches to many parts of Southeast Asia. This was the starting point of going global and the reason we can all enjy these watches no matter where we are.

Two years ago, I started talking to Mr. Hiroyuki Ota (Otha), Deputy General Manager of Citizen Watch Europe GmbH, about a certain watch model featured in a commercial. Little by little, our conversation developed and we planned this visit to Tokyo headquarters. Once I arrived in the capital, I visited the flagship store to prepare for the following day. Of course I had a beautiful watch ready for the occasion. 😉 (Thank you Eric for sourcing and keeping the watch for me and for the great time we had in Tokyo!)

This is the watch I strapped to my wrist on Monday morning. It is the stainless steel Chronometer and you can read about it HERE. I like to believe it was a great choice, since our host seemed impressed. This model was also on display at the museum, not once, but twice – as a whole watch and in a section discussing its movement.

At 9:00 we were at the Citizen headquarters and we had no problems getting there. Once we got out of the train at the Tanashi station, the Citizen logo on their building was easy to spot. We took a short walk and reached the gate. Because the trains work really well in Japan, we were able to schedule out trip with such precision that we arrived at 8:57, since our meeting was at 9:00.

The doorman was aware of our visit and someone walked us into the waiting room. Two minutes later, at 9:00 sharp, we were met by Ms. Wakaba Kuroshima (Product Management Section & Product Marketing Department) with whom I had communicated prior to my arrival. She was very helpful in providing all the information needed in order to get there in time and also a few welcomed pieces of advice about what to do in Tokyo. She took us into the museum.

Mr. Yasuyuki Sakamaki (Citizen Museum Director & Citizen Archives General Manager) along with Mr. Takeo Ishino (Manager Product Management Section & Product Marketing Department) and Mr. Shoiji Misono (Manager Product Planning Section & Product Marketing Department) welcomed us. They were all extremely gracious and evidently proud of their work and their company. Everything was clean, neatly arranged, well-planned and executed. Our hosts kindly showed us around and answered all our questions.

Our tour started with a short film that rendered some of the most important events in the history of Citizen and a few of the innovations made by them throughout the years, and there are a lot of them. After this, we were invited to see some watches, important pieces, hand-picked by our host and guide, the museum director. There are 130 watches on a 24-meter-long display. The 24 m represent the hours of a day. So we can witness 100 years of development in one single day.

We learned so many things about Citizen: the first titanium watch, the first Japanese water proof watch, the thinnest movement at a certain time, Guinness World Record for smallest watch movement, Eco-drive technology, radio wave…. and so many more world or Japanese premiers. The tour also introduced us to some machinery and because Citizen is a truly in-house made watch, the company manufactures the machines that make the machines that make the watches! How cool is that?! And Citizen is not only watches; they also produce car parts, led lights and a lot of other non-watch-related things, all with the greatest dedication. Inspiring!

 

After the tour, we sat down for coffee and I had the chance to ask a few questions.

  • Next year Citizen will be celebrating its 100-year anniversary. How does it feel to be reaching such a milestone?
  • We are proud of these one hundred years, but it is not the end. We don’t see it this way. It is only the beginning of the next 100.

 

  • How do you imagine the next centenary?
  • We focus a lot on the future and at the same time we treasure and cherish out past, the tradition. What we are aiming for is to look ahead and continue on our path the same way. Trying to improve, to be better.

 

  • Will Citizen go mechanical high end?
  • We do not, in fact, have this plan at the moment. The technology is there, but this is not our main focus. We have the Campanola…
  • I know Citizen has made a tourbillon, the Y01.
  • Yes, but it was a one-time thing and we have no plans of pursuing this path in the near future. In fact, there were only two pieces made.

 

  • How do you view the past? Citizen made awesome watches and we love them so much!
  • We are very proud of our past and we have a few watches on display that we treasure. Citizen had the same philosophy for a long time and the past watches, the present ones and future ones will show it too. Citizen had a lot of global and Japan “firsts” and we were always looking to improve, to offer a better product.

 

  • Do you have an archive for vintage? Do you service them, offer parts for restoration?
  • Citizen doesn’t keep an archive and doesn’t offer service and parts for watches unless they are in the warranty period.

 

  • Do you encourage the vintage market for VCW?
  • At the moment we don’t have a plan in this direction. We appreciate collectors such as yourself and are amazed by your watches and your passion. Why do you collect VCW and where do you find them?
  • For me, as a collector, I find a lot of diversity and quality still at a very reasonable price. My father had a Citizen, a blue-dial, that he bought when I was born. It was quartz but still made me love the brand. Finding them is not easy… I’ve spent hours every day for years, looking for the best pieces.
  • Thank you for everything!
  • Thank you, we are humbled and honored by the passion collectors invest in our brand.

 

  • Will Citizen recreate some important historical watches? A lot of brands are investing in this direction.
  • Next year is going to be Citizen’s centennial so… (spoiler alert – you heard it here first, on VCW) we are going to present a homage watch. But because Better starts now… we don’t search into the past, we are proud of it but we go forward and in fact we have several directions to follow.
  • Wow! What model will it be? That is such a great surprise. I’m sure the readers will be thrilled.
  • We can’t say right now but we will introduce it to Baselworld next year. You are invited to see it there and hopefully we will meet again. What I can say is that it is in the final stages of development.

 

  • Thank you so much! I will wait for it and will probably meet you again there. Do you have a message you would like to share with the fans of your brand?
  • Next year is an important passing point, (100 years) we look at our history but this is the beginning of the next 100. We try to send this message at Baselworld.
  • So keep an eye on Citizen! Thank you again! Arigato gozaimas!

Back to my visit, a few images that I hope you will enjoy. In the picture above you can see the Parawater and the Pacific buoy, in the picture below you can see some old machinery, some old tools and the cabinet (all made by the Citizen company).

The past was impressive and this is why we love it so much. They were trying from day one to provide the best watches they can do at affordable prices so everyone could get such a luxury item. Divers, chronographs, complicated watches… elegant ones in stainless steel or gold, platinum, titanium, stone, wood… and everything you can think of. Citizen was always pushing for a better watch and a better one. Their motto is Better Starts Now” and they promise and they deliver.

Present day is only a continuation of yesterday, so it makes sense to go a step further. Yes, they are not high end mechanical watches but they made watches that you can wear and enjoy at a daily basis while having fun. They still make reliable watches and innovation is their game and they are winning it. “We are the citizens, the people who see the world as a work in progress. A place to be improved. A place where time is measured not in seconds, but in steps forward. Some will say we are obsessive, but if you love something, why would you not strive to make it better? We don’t live in the glories of our past, our sights are firmly set forward. Are we aiming for perfection? No, for us, to admit perfection is to admit defeat. To stop. And if time never stops, why should we? We’re heading for better.”

Tomorrow will bring us an even better watch and I can’t wait to be there to witness it. In the picture above you can see the Citizen logo machined into a natural hair. Just imagine the level of precision of tomorrow! And based on the amount of innovation they accomplished on these 100 years, I can’t wait to see what the next 100 will bring. All we have to do is eat healthy, exercise, rest, love, collect VCW, be calm and stress free and we will meet here again in one hundred years. 🙂

 

As a conclusion: awesome people, awesome company and awesome watches! If I was a big Vintage Citizen Watches fan before the visit, now I am twice as much. I was so impressed by the modesty, respect and the warmth of the people at Citizen…. and a company is only as good as the people that work there. They do it with such love, respect and dedication! Love it!

Thank you Citizen, thank you all and I hope you found useful information here. Also, you can join the Vintage Citizen Watches Facebook group HERE.

Arigato gozaimas!

Citizen Guy – www.vintagecitizenwatches.com

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!” 🙂

One more white dial 67-9356 for service

The watch was not working, stuck chronograph buton, strange noises inside, badly polished case (should have been brushed).

This is what the owner told me: “My watchmaker was unable to repair it. It runs only when you leave the watch on a table but it regularly stops running when you wear it; it seems that it gets stuck. Also since my watchmaker touched it, it seems that the left button is stuck too. For me it would be great if you can have a look at it and repair it so I can wear it again. In my opinion this is one of the best looking Bullheads ever made!”

So… after the work was completed the watch is now running great, the buttons are smooth and the time, chrono, date and day are functioning as they should. Fly back,manual and auto winding. All ok. The movement is clean and the watch is ready to wear. There were a few problems with the watch: the case back was forced and pressed on the movement because there was no rubber seal and another part was missing (we were able to source the original ones), the ball bearing of the rotor was broken but we fixed it. The chono button was stuck but when servicing we un-bended the malfunctioning part so all ok 🙂 Bottom line, this is indeed one of the best looking Vintage Citizen Chronographs, for sure. The case was not polished (the owner asked for this because he likes it polished).

read more about this model HERE