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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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?!

His and hers Citizen alarm – diver style


Here is of my favorite vintage watches! What can I say, I love diving watches! Despite the fact that it is not a real diving one, it is made in this style and has an added bonus complication.

As one can clearly see, because is written on the black beautiful dial, in white lettering, this is an alarm watch, Citizen 63-7076. It is powered by the usual Citizen alarm date calibre, 3102 (engraved underneath the balance wheel). This is based on the USSR calibre AS 1475. It is a manual winding movement, with 21 jewels running at 18000 bph. The watch has two crowns , signed “C”. The top one is for setting and winding the alarm while the bottom one is for setting the time and date and also winding the movement.

citizen diver alarm 63-7076The entire case is made entirely in stainless steel, the bezel is bidirectional frictional type while the crystal is domed acrylic with a date magnifier on the outer surface. I enjoy the fact that the watch looks good on any kind of bracelet or strap you throw at it (nato, rubber, leather, mesh…) Of course it looks good on the Citizen bracelet too. 🙂 The caseback is snap on type and for the alarm can work it can be placed only in a certain way. The active part of the alarm from the movement engages the passive part (the pin) of the caseback only if the two parts fit as they are supposed to.

citizen alarm diverCitizen also made one for the ladies, so here are a few pictures I found online on e-bay posted by antiquewatches-de. This one is a smaller watch and doesn’t have a date (calibre 9812). The crowns are signed “CTZ”.

citizen alarm diverThis year, and the previous one, we saw a growing trend of “his and hers” watches, well Citizen did it so beautifully, 50 years ago! And such a beautiful vintage pair this is today!

Here is a video of another Citizen alarm with the same movement and this is how it sounds: 

https://vintagecitizenwatches.com/2014/02/17/vintage-citizen-alarm-date-4h-alds51301a-y/

And this is another awesome his and hers real diving Citizen pair: 

https://vintagecitizenwatches.com/2014/03/15/citizen-ladies-diver-150m-model-54-0919/

Vintage Citizen Diver – Seven Star 4-526970Y


This is not the usual diver, but it has the lovely look of one. In fact this is one of the first “divers” made by Citizen, the precursor of the famous Citizen real diving watches.

It is the Parawater model but it has no specific depth rating. The production date of this particular watch is February 1970.

citizen seven star diver

The case is made in stainless steel, thin, with a bidirectional friction type stainless steel rotating bezel. It measures 38mm wide. It has a domed acrylic crystal that gives a lovely look to the black, matte dial. The crown is marked “C” as most of the early Citizen watches did and it is not screw type.

The dial is simple, black, with luminous squares as hour markers. At three a clock it has the day-date window. Sundays , as usual, are written in red. The hands are common to Seven Star range at the era. The second hand has a luminous dot at the tip.

Citizen vintage diver seven star

The movement is the the calibre 5204 with 21 jewels. It runs at 28,000 bph and it doesn’t hack. The date changes in the second position of the winding crown and the day changes by advancing the hands pass midnight.

The bracelet is made in stainless steel, but I doubt the fact that is original to the watch. It fits the watch really nice.  The clasp, is as usual, signed “Citizen”.

Conclusion – Beautiful piece of history, a precursor of the real Citizen diving watches, the “missing” link between THE Parawater watch and the real diving watches made by Citizen.

Read more about Citizen diving watches here:  https://vintagecitizenwatches.com/diver-vcw/