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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Citizen “bullhead” Chronograph 67-9356


This is one of the best vintage chronographs that i can think of! 

Of course you could say that a vintage “Paul Newman” Rolex Daytona is way better, but let’s take a look at this beautiful timepiece.

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This is THE vintage automatic Citizen chronograph, Challenge Timer, also known as bullhead, Easter rabbit or Mikey Mouse – due to its particular shape. It was first introduced in 1978. (on the caseback the first digit of the serial shows the year and the next two digits are for the month) The reference number is Citizen 67-9356. Regarding the shape, you can instantly see that this is not like all the other bullheads. This one has a beautiful octagonal shape that gives it personality, masculinity and a lot of  refined power.

The case is made of brushed and polished stainless steel and the case back screws into place. The round bezel is polished and the glass crystal is flat. The shape of the watch is octagonal with the lower part dropping towards the bracelet and the upper part, flat, hosting the crown and two push buttons that operate the chronograph function. The winding crown is a little bit longer than the usual so that it can be operated due to the special case design. It is signed “CTZ”.  Back to the shape of the case: – all the frontal part is brushed, from top to bottom. The top flat surface is also brushed but from side to side. The sides of the watch are mirror polisher reflecting the light in unexpected, beautiful ways. The caseback is also polished. The case alone has on the visible side alone, 21 different surfaces, not counting the bezel, crown and buttons so the visual effect of brushed and polished surfaces, with a lot of angles, gives a powerful feeling.

The dial is classic, with three contrasting subdials positioned at 3, 6 and 9. There are only two types of dial colors for this model – black with white subdials and white with black subdials.  (The metal base round case model has a lot of variation in dial color but for this model we have only black and white.) A lot of “restorations” are with aftermarket dials, so pay attention on this aspect when thinking of buying a Citizen chronograph. The indexes of the dial should be raised but the luminescent dot (green) should be on a lower part of the applied index. The Citizen logo is also applied. The hands are painted to better contrast with the dial. The subdial at 3 counts the elapsed minutes (30), the one at 9 – the hours(12) and for the seconds we have the central hand. The subdial at 6 is for the day and date. The day is in two languages, and sundays are painted red. For the white dial version the day and date wheels are black and for the black dial the wheels are white. This gives them a better integration in the general design. On the outside of the dial we have the classic tachymeter.

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The movement 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.

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The bracelet (i saw different models but the one on the black dial in pictures is 100% sure it is original to the watch, and my favorite design for this model) is stainless steel, wider where it connects with the case and narrowing towards the signed “Citizen” stainless steel clasp. Each link is made of only one piece. Pay attention that most of aftermarket bracelet are with full links, the original is made of folded steel.

Conclusion: Beautiful to wear, beautiful to look at, interesting special design, wonderful automatic fly back chronograph movement that needs to be used… what else to ask for a vintage chronograph?

Here are some beautiful pictures of this movement: 

https://vintagecitizenwatches.com/2015/03/26/citizen-chronograph-calibre-8110a/