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 Recordmaster Rally Custom Chronograph


The Citizen Recordmaster is a famous watch among vintage chronograph collectors and such a beautiful one too. The model was introduced in 1967 and was produced for only 5 years. It is a real column wheel flyback chronograph, with a hand winding movement. It counts up to one minute only but what a joy to wear and play with the pushers it is! The flyback action is awesome.

citizen recordmaster rally custom

The larger (42mm) version presented here is the more complex and sportier Rally Custom 63-0314. Even though there is another Rally Custom powered by a different non-chrongraph movement, this one has the same flyback manual 5702 calibre inside. It has a sportier look, a large black case with integrated lugs and one external tachymeter bezel as well as another inner rotating one. This inner one in addition to the scale on the dial is useful for some simple calculation such as speed and elapsed time. The dial itself is black, completing the all black look of the watch. The only tint of color is a yellow or orange circle on the dial and the orange second hand. On this model the date is located in a round window at 4 o’clock and there is one more crown at 10 o’clock for operating the inner bezel.

citizen recordmaster rallycustomThe movement is the Citizen calibre 5702 with 21 jewels. It beats at a slow rate, half the speed of the fastest Citizen Leopard movements, at 18,000bph. It is the first chronograph and the only hand winding chronograph movement that Citizen produced. There is also an automatic one with two variations: 8100A and 8110A. All of the Citizen chronograph movements are flyback and so is this one. The date is not quick set but changes by advancing the hour hand past midnight. The racing tropic strap is the best option and fits the watch perfectly.

Read about the other Recordmaster variant HERE.

Citizen Chronograph “Bullhead” Challenge Timer


Who does’t love a true vintage chronograph? And what is there not to love? Citizen made three chronograph movements, one manual – calibre 5702 with 21 jewels (read about it HERE) and two automatic ones based on the same design – calibre 8100A and 8110A, both with 23 jewels (read about them on the dedicated page HERE). All three are fly back chronos.

Let me introduce to you the well known, world famous Citizen Bullhead calibre 8110A! Citizen called this chronograph the Challenge Timer.

vintage citizen chronograph challenge timer automatic 8110A

*don’t forget to magnify the pictures on my blog for more details*

As clearly seen on the collage above (pictures from the sellers mostly from sweetroad) they come in different colors and variants.

The round shaped (so 1970’s) cases for all bullheads are made of plated metal base aluminum alloy (except for the stainless steel octagon one, read about it HERE). They are called bullhead because of the two pushers that are positioned on the top of the case. Those pushers (stainless steel) are there to operate the chronograph function. The one at 11 o’clock starts and stops it and the one at 1 resets it and it can also be used while the time is running and resets it and starts it in one single action. This is known as the fly back function. Most of the chronographs are not constructed like this. You can’t press the reset unless the time is stopped first, but on fly-backs that is possible. So, this is the Citizen automatic, 23 jewels, calibre 8110A with hand winding capability. It was produced by Citizen starting from 1972. It is a vertical clutch chronograph (beating at 28.800 bph) with column wheel and obviously fly back function. It is 27 mm wide and about 6.8mm high. Because of the column wheel/vertical clutch design of the movement it is better to leave chronograph running for most of the time (this way you can also see the beautiful sweeping central second hand in movement), but also from time to time it should be stopped. On top of all of this, it displays the date and the day of the week as well. A particularity for this movement is that when you want to change the day you should pull the winding crown to second position (for changing the date) and push and release the reset (1 o’clock) button. Interesting design so the interaction lucky owner – beautiful watch, is enhanced. I can’t even imagine the price of a vintage Rolex Daytona if it would have had all these features.

The dials are made in a variety of colors so for sure you are going to find one that on your taste. Just pay attention to the fact that the market is flooded with fakes! The hands vary as well and are also faked a lot. It doesn’t have a current running seconds but leaving the chronograph moving you can have one, while the chronograph function, when needed, can be engaged with just a simple action – press the fly back 1 0’clock pusher and start counting from zero.

So… the case can be plated: golden, dark brown-green, black, or silver. The bracelet is plated too, I have seen it in stainless steel, rubber or leather.

Here it is a NOS dark olive green plated one, with original bracelet and awesome golden dial:citizen vintage chronograph bull head challange timerAnd the black coated, green dial, NOS too:

citizen bullhead chronograph vintageIt is a beautiful watch but, once more, pay attention to the “aftermarket” dials, hands, straps and wrong finishes of the case. And let’s not forget that a lot of them are made of parts and have a bad history. All things considered, it is a beautiful time piece to have but such a difficult task to find the proper one. Good luck hunting for the right one for you! Once you find it, you will love it! This is my favorite: HERE

Citizen Chronograph 8100A 4-900031TA Challenge Timer


This must be one of the most beautiful Citizen ever made. And that is not an easy thing to declare, but I think in this case, it is most likely true. Just take a look at the way the light is dancing on the hour markers, the blue metallic finish, black case… the color of the hands… poetry! This is the Citizen Chronograph Challenge Timer 4-900031TA.

Citizen had three chronograph movements. The first one is a manual wind, found in Citizen Recordmaster – HERE, and two automatic calibres, based on the same main design. The watch presented here is powered by 8100A.

Citizen vintage chronograph 8100A

The case is black coated and has a stainless steel case back and bezel. The chronograph pushers and the crown are also SS. The bracelet is a very interesting combination of black coated metal parts and black leather. Because it is such an old watch, most of the leather parts on these bracelets are, unfortunately, ruined. I am glad I found this NOS example with intact parts. (I have one more bracelet like this in great need of new leather parts, so if anyone interested in that, let me know.) About the caseback – here you can see the way it was sealed with stickers the day it was made –  “passed JWCII” The JWCII was used since 1954 and lasted up to 1991. It was made for a specific reason: to ensure quality control. They were applied in factories producing horological and other technological products. JWCII sticker (initially placed on watches where QC was an important step of manufacture) was later-on seen on Japanese cameras and lenses and a few electronic devices.

The movement is the automatic fly-back, 23 jewls, calibre 8100A with hand winding capability. It was produced by Citizen starting from 1972, just as 8110A. This watch was made in 1973, It is a vertical clutch chronograph (beating at 28.800 bph) with column wheel and fly back function. It also features a day and date indicator. The fly back function means that you can reset the chronograph while in motion and it will start again without needing to go the entire process of pressing stop-reset-start. So, one push can do all of this. Of course that if you want to stop it you can go the classic stop-reset way. A particularity for this movement is that when you want to change the day you should pull the crown to second position (for changing the date) and push and release the reset (5 o’clock) button. It is 27 mm wide and 5,8mm high, (1mm less than 8110A). The column wheel/vertical clutch design of the movement advices to leave the chronograph running for most of the time (this way you can also see the beautiful sweeping central second hand in movement), but from time to time it should be stopped. This is a chronograph that needs to be used. It is not made for design purpose but for timing.

And… now let’s tall about the way it looks. 🙂 The awesome dial is blue, with a sun burst effect, metallic and reflects the light in various ways, making it sparkle to life in direct sun light. In the shade it becomes darker and sometimes even close to black. The hour markers are applied and have orange accents. The hands are orange too, for perfect complementary color contrast (blue – orange). On the outer part of the dial is the white Tachymeter scale.

Beautiful watch, wonderful movement. Great to have, look at and a joy to wear.

Read more about Citizen chronographs on the dedicated page HERE.

Citizen chronograph calibre 8110A


Here are a few pictures of the gorgeous in-house movement Citizen cal 8110A that my friend Sergio was kind enough to let me use on the site so all of us could enjoy! Thank you Sergio!

The movement here is the Citizen automatic, 23 jewels, calibre 8110A with hand winding capability. It was produced by Citizen starting from 1972. It is a vertical clutch chronograph (beating at 28.800 bph) with column wheel and fly back function. (how many modern chronograph do that, and what is their cost?) Lets don’t forget it has a day and date indicator. The fly back function means that you can reset the chronograph while in motion and it will start again without needing to go the entire process of pressing stop-reset-start. So, one push can do all of this. Of course that if you want to stop it you can go the classic stop-reset way. A particularity for this movement is that when you want to change the day you should pull the crown to second position (for changing the date) and push and release the reset (1 o’clock) button. It is 27 mm wide and 6.9mm high. The column wheel/vertical clutch design of the movement advices to leave the chronograph running for most of the time (this way you can also see the beautiful sweeping central second hand in movement), but from time to time it should be stopped. This is a chronograph that needs to be used. It is not made for design purpose but for timing.

citizen 8110a chronograph

Citizen 8110A

Features
automatic chronograph, 60s, 30min, 12h, pillar wheel
flyback feature: reset and immediate restart
day: set by reset-pusher in crown position for date setting, 2 languages
date: quickset

Data
12”’, Dm= 27.0mm
H= 6.9mm
23 jewels
f = 28800 A/h
power reserve 40h

Stem Citizen 065-178

Remarks
1970-
ball-bearing rotor
usually as bull head (crown/puschers at 12h, day/date at 6h)

Example, year: signature; shock device
1977: Citizen Japan, 23 J.; Parashock

Data about this movement from here.

Read more about one of my favorite Citizen, one powered by this awesome movement here: https://vintagecitizenwatches.com/2013/12/24/citizen-bullhead-chronograph-67-9356/

How to spot a Fake dial – Citizen Bullhead 67-9356


One of the most replicated (so called “aftermarket”) dials for vintage Citizen watches is the dial for the wellknown “bullhead” chronograph. The original bullhead dial, the one with an octagonal SS case is either black with white sub-dials or white with black sub-dials. If you see one with a different color, for sure, it is not original. Sometimes you can find one that looks just the way it should, but let’s wait a minute. Let’t put on the magnifier and compare the original dial with the fake one.

I have posted two photos. The fake dial is the one where you can see the entire watch, on the left,  all the details are from an original dial, on the right. Click on the pictures1 to magnify them.

In the first picture we can clearly see:

Citizen Bullhead fake aftermarket dial

1 – the “500” is not where is supposed to be on the fake one. It is miss-placed at the 38th marker, not at the 36th, as it should be.

2 – the “TACHYMETER” writing on the aftermarket one is too long (this is why the “500” is misplaced too) and the second “T” on the fake one is after the 1 o’clock hour marker as for the real one the “T” is before the hour marker.

3 – the applied hour markers should have two levels, on the lower level is the luminous dot. On the fake dial the hour marker is flat, without this particularity.

4 – the markings are not correct on the fake one

5 – the sub-dials (minute and hours) should be carefully made (with a nice concentric pattern) and nor shiny

6 – The tachymeter scale numbers are not allowed to touch the other lines printed on the dial. The execution lack finesse at the fake dial.

The second picture: 

Original dial for Citizen Bullhead and fake aftermarket dial

1 – the “Chronograph” and “automatic” are better centered at the original part

2 – the applied “Citizen” logo has better quality on the real dial

3 – there should be more space between the “Chronograph” and “Automatic” on the original

4 – the overall printing is way better at the original Citizen dial and a direct comparison under magnification will make it all crystal clear

For sure there are other mistakes too but these are the obvious ones.

As a conclusion, I suggest that any buyer and Vintage Citizen Collector should take it’s time (and the magnification) and not waste all this money on fake watches. Remember that “Aftermarket” means “Fake”. 

read more about this chronograph watch  here:

https://vintagecitizenwatches.com/2013/12/24/citizen-bullhead-chronograph-67-9356/