As Simple as That


As Simple as That

by Andrei Cherascu

 

From November 2005 until August of last year, I wore only one single watch. I wore it every day, with every outfit, for every occasion.

It’s a beautiful, solid piece, whose dark-gray titanium case and bracelet still look brand new after eleven years. Its design – round shape, a cool-looking black Arabic dial and white lume hands – seems ready to stand the test of time. The watch is made by a German company called Regent but its exhibition case back displays, of all things, a Citizen Miyota movement.

It was a gift from my father.

Even as a child, I’d loved watches. I used to jump at any opportunity to stare at them in magazines and shop windows. Far too young to appreciate their intricate mechanisms and fascinating complications, I was drawn simply to their incontestable beauty. There is and always has been something intrinsically elegant about wearing a wristwatch, something that transcends time and trend and even personal taste. Yet, for eleven years, I wore only the watch from my dad. For some reason, I couldn’t conceive the notion of owning or wearing more than one wristwatch, as if that very concept marked the limit of my imagination. When I got the Regent, I put it on and that was that.

I always used to say that I want to be buried wearing that watch. Of course, I was joking. First of all, I’m a science fiction author – I don’t want to be buried, I want to be cloned. Secondly, I would never do that to a watch. A watch is a dynamic entity par excellence, its existence justified exclusively by its relationship with the wearer. There’s a particular quality about this relationship that stands at the center of my fascination with timepieces, but I’ll get to that shortly.

As you can probably infer from the picture that accompanies the article, I managed to overcome my one-watch obsession and I credit our very own Bogdan with triggering the change.

One evening, over a glass of wine and a lengthy conversation about watches (the first of what turned out to be many) I mentioned my dedication to the Regent and also my related funerary plans. “You can still be buried with that one and also wear others while you’re still alive,” Bogdan said with that look of profound sorrow enthusiasts usually display when someone mentions they don’t like wearing watches – a look I’ve perfected myself over the last few months. What started as a joke left me with a very serious issue to consider.

The following days, I started entertaining the notion of actually wearing more than one watch. There was just a small step from that one nascent thought to becoming an amateur collector. My wife, Ioana, suggested we get each other watches for our twelfth anniversary as a couple, to help ease my transition to multi-watch wearer and maybe help reduce some of that over-attachment to the Regent. Surely, she reasoned, if the watch was a gift from her (with an added special occasion to boot) I would love it just as much as the one from my dad. Boy, did I ever!

Not only did I become completely enamored with the brand-new Atlantic Super de Lux I stumbled upon after an evening’s worth of watch-hunting, I also developed a passion for the Atlantic brand. Its focus on classy, old-school dress watches really resonated with me (especially after Ioana pointed out they’re exactly the sort of watches my main character would wear) and sparked my interest in the Swiss company’s almost cult-like status on the Eastern European markets. I started reading about Atlantic, spending hours researching its history and collections before branching out into the general history of wristwatches, watchmaking, brands and Basel and Patek and haute horlogerie.

Just a few weeks after purchasing my new watch and getting accustomed to wearing something other than my beloved Regent, I decided that I wanted to add another timepiece to what I was determined to grow into a collection.

From the start, I knew it had to be a vintage Citizen – one of Bogdan’s watches. It was just the natural progression of the narrative. Not only was he responsible with my newly-awakened interest, I’d also followed his website and Facebook group, read the articles and grew quite fond of this iconic brand and its rich history. To keep with the theme of story and symbolism, Ioana decided it would be my birthday present.

When I mentioned my intention of purchasing a vintage Citizen, Bogdan asked me a few questions, sounding suspiciously like a matchmaker. I told him about my preference for classic dress watches, that I wanted one with manual-winding and most importantly, that I was looking for one with a story. Later that evening, I found a Facebook message with a picture of three beautiful samples; among them, the absolutely gorgeous Parawater.

parawater-citizen-deluxe-andrei-cherascu

Being more familiar with Citizen’s well-known divers, I was completely taken aback by the classic elegance of the Parawater – a testament to Bogdan’s matchmaking talent. He agreed that it’s “the one” and later told me he hadn’t even intended on selling it, but he’d looked through his keeper box and this one had just screamed that it wanted to end up with me. He finally decided to part with it, with the peace of mind that he was selling it to a friend.

I’m a ceremonious person, it’s just my nature, so I couldn’t help but organize an entire Citizen soiree, complete with a solemn “rite of transfer” that consisted mainly of Bogdan and myself staring at the Parawater and agreeing on how cool it is. I’m not going to go into technical details here; there are other articles on the website discussing it far more competently than I could. I’m just here to tell a story.

The first thing I noticed was how beautiful and elegant it looked. At just 36mm, this is a delicate, tasteful piece the likes of which are hard to come by nowadays, with most men’s watches (even in the dress category) seemingly designed for size rather than symmetry. I didn’t even realize this until I started wearing it and noticing that other watches felt strangely oversized. Even the (original) bracelet is slim and stylish, going extremely well with everything from leather jackets to suits and trench coats, making the Parawater – born of the Deluxe line – a surprisingly versatile instrument.

This feeling of versatility is enhanced by the gorgeous black Stick dial. Its elaborate trapezoid marks crowned with small dots ensure that it produces a veritable spectacle of contrast and color under various lighting situations. There’s some wear-and-tear visible on the hands, giving it a sort of timeworn wisdom whose effect I greatly enjoy. It helps substantiate the fact that this watch is over half a century old, a timepiece in the strongest sense of the word.

Even now, after the novelty wore off, I’m still fascinated by its implicit history, the complex string of stories and events that ended with it on my wrist. To quote Bogdan: “It’s almost like everything this watch has been through over the past fifty-six years happened in such a way as to make it end up with you now. If someone had left it home on the table in 1973, or if the watchmaker had returned it early in, let’s say, 1991, everything could have been different.”

In the meantime, I’ve learned to date it and discovered that this particular watch (or at least its case back) was manufactured in April of 1960, the exact year and month that my father was born. As a storyteller, patterns and coincidences always make me happy.

When I put it on, I was surprised by how comfortable it felt. Even after prolonged wearing its weight never becomes burdensome or unpleasant, remaining merely a subtle reminder of its presence. The sensation of wearing it feels so natural it’s almost organic, as if the watch had grown right out of my wrist. Because of that, it quickly became my go-to watch, the one I wear the most often, which significantly accelerated the bonding process. Now, I can’t picture being away from it for too long and the thought of having to send it in for maintenance is distressing.

An added factor in the bonding process was the nightly winding ritual. As I previously mentioned, I’m a very ritual-oriented person and the sensation of manually winding a watch, being directly responsible for its proverbial heartbeat, is both fascinating and relaxing to me. I often have trouble sleeping and the act of listening to the spellbinding mechanical litany of its faint tick helps my brain go into a restful state. This is my first manual winding mechanism and the sensation is exactly as I’d imagined.

This brings me back to what I’ve written at the beginning of the article, about that particular quality about watches that I find so fascinating. I often think about this while I wind the Parawater. It’s that simple, straightforward honesty of mechanical and even quartz watches.

In an age where everything around you is multifunctional, has an operating system, high-end graphics and a plethora of applications that try to sell you other applications, a nice, old-fashioned watch is as straightforward an object as you can find. It won’t try to sell you anything, it won’t try to get you to click on a link, install updates or check your e-mail. It will just do what it was created to do, depending on its purpose and complications. All you have to do is take care of it and, in return, it will tell you the exact time to the best of its ability.

There is an innate honesty and implicit loyalty to a watch that is otherwise hard to find in this click-bait, high definition world. The very fact that it’s essentially outdated makes it all the more endearing. Its simple task can be carried out by a wide array of technology, yet we still often turn to its archaic design in spite of its aura of human fallibility – or, perhaps, exactly because of it.

 

Read more about this model HERE.

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.

Citizen Super Jet Auto Dater X case


Super Jet! Wow again! And a “X” case?! Super! 

Some say the best period of Citizen was around 1969, some say it was earlier and others believe it was after 1970. Well.. 1969 was at least an interesting year because Citizen had a lot of cool features intersecting around this time frame. The watch I will present to you today was made in June 1968. So… let’s see it!

citizen super jet auto dater 1

This particular time piece is loaded with a lot of cool features. It is the Citizen Super Jet Auto Dater, model SADS51202-Y. It has a polished/brushed stainless steel case, marked with a circled X. That means the case is unibody and it has no removable case back. In fact the movement comes out only if the crystal is removed. I also love the fact that it is marked “Parawater” (not the common “water resistant” or “water proof”). This was a therm that only Citizen used in order to show that the watch is in fact water resistant, and this one was up to 150m. Not having a removable case back eliminated a week link into this water resistance issue. You can read about the first Japanese water resistant watc, the famous Parawater, HERE. The mineral crystal is domed, with a concave inner surface. The dial is matte black, with a somehow satinated appearance. It is marker with 3 stars, an indication to the awesome movement inside. The luminos hour markers (the hour and minute hands have luminous parts too), have a polished trapezoidal shape making time reading very easy to do. The date is positioned at 3 o clock, where the unsigned winding crown is located too. By the way, the crown is manually winding the automatic movement, sets the date while the date changes only by moving the hour hand back and forward midnight.  I was so wrong! How come I missed the fact that the date changes by pulling the crown?! Just pull the crown in the second position and the date jumps! Pull again, it jumps again! 🙂

citizen super jet auto dater 2

Let’s open it up! Let’s not forget the X marked case, with integrated case back!  The first thing one have to do is to remove the bezel (this is also keeping the crystal into place). Use the right knife blade to pop it open. Then remove the crystal. I do that using a suction cup. On the lateral part of the crystal there is a black rubber seal and underneath the crystal there is a transparent one in order to facilitate water resistance. So, the crystal is out, and so are the seals. Now turn the watch dial side down and slowly turn the crown. The movement will fall, so pay attention. Now that we have the movement out, turn it so we can see it. The beautiful Jet movement, gold plated, 39 Jewels, three stats, in all its glory! Love it! Read more about Jet movements HEREReassembly is somehow similar. A special attention should be payed when pacing the crown back. Press it into place only when in the right position into the movement, otherwise the stem can break. When pressure fitting the bezel back into place, be careful not to break the crystal. Nor the stem or the crystal are available for sale anywhere. So… take your time or take it to a watchmaker. 😉

citizen super jet auto dater 3

Anything else? Well.. not only that is in almost perfect condition but I can introduce to you how the original box should have been. Most of the times the box alone can double the value of the watch if it can be sourced. So… this is how a Super Jet auto dater box should look like. (I hope I can get it soon to complete the package, and the original strap too – not sure what is the right model here-)

If you want to see the 150m diver version of this watch, one of my all time favorite pieces, click HERE

I hope you enjoyed the article and found the info about the X case watches useful. Now, lets get them opened! 🙂 These movements need to be seen! Click on the images to magnify them if you need more details.

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.

Citizen – Watch Oil Kit


My friend Hako was kind enough to provide me these photos of an interesting collectors item, the vintage official Citizen watch oil kit, used for servicing the movements. Thank you Hako!  Apart for the oils themselves, the kit has brushes and a booklet with instructions for using the items found inside the box. I will write the information written on it below.

vintage citizen oil kit service

HANDLING INSTRUCTION FOR CITIZEN WATCH OIL

Citizen has designated the following 6 types of oil as oil to be used for Citizen watches. These oils particularly excel in quality and performance. Be sure to use the Citizen exclusive watch oil on Citizen watches for preserving the superior performance of the watch during a prolonged period.

1. Synt-A-Lube oil

Since it is a compound oil of superior performance, there is no worry of the characteristics becoming inferior due to deterioration, aging, etc., regardless for it being used for a prolonged time. 

Usage portion: Dial side train wheels, jeweled pallet fork, escapement. 

Remarks: Use the oil by transferring a small amount to the saucer of the stand type oiler. Be sure to clean the saucer and replace the oil at least once a week even though the saucer is not dirtied. 

2. Synt-V-Lube oil

Similar to the Synt-A-Lube Oil, it is a compound oil of superior performance. The viscosity is higher than the Synt-A-Lube oil.

Usage portion: Bridge side, day and date mechanism and second hand stopping device. 

Remarks: Same as in Synt-A-Lube oil. 

3. Citizen watch oil CH-1

The Citizen watch oil CH-1 is a mixture of special grease and special solid lubricant and there is no worry of the characteristics becoming inferior due to deterioration, aging, etc., although it may be used for a long period of time and a stabilized mainspring torque is maintained constantly. 

Usage portions: Hand winding mainspring

Use the exclusive brush with blue color mark on application of oil. 

4. Citizen watch oil CA-1

The Citizen watch oil CA-1 guarantees a stabilized slip torque which is particularly important for automatic winding an has been developed so a stabilized mainspring torque is maintained and used also on parts of the train wheels. The mixing rate of the solid lubricant differ from that of the Citizen watch oil CG-1. 

Usage portions: Part of train wheels. 

Automatic winding mainspring.

Used on Cal. Nos.:

150*, 220*, 140*, 24**, 060*, 03**, 11**, 41**, 52**, 54**and 64**.

Use the exclusive brush with green color mark on application of oil. 

5. Citizen watch oil CA-2

The Citizen watch oil CA-2 has been developed particularly for use on Citizen automatic wrist watches which have their mainspring torque increased. Its composition differs entirely from that of CA-1 and is a compound oil excelling in stability with no oil flows and is suited for heavy loads. 

Usage portions: Automatic winding mainspring.

Used on Cal. Nos.: 

72**, 74**, 76**, 77**, 66**, 65**, 60**.

Use the exclusive brush with yellow color mark on application of oil.

6. Citizen silicon oil and lubricator

The Citizen Parawater watch utilizes the elasticity of the O-Ring and packing and maintains a high watterresistant capability. The silicon oil acts to further promote the superior waterresistant proprieties of the O-Ring and packing so it should be always used in disassembly and assembly.

Usage portions: O-Ring

Packing

How to apply the Silicon Oil

(1) O-Ring and packing

a. A suitable amount of silicon oil should be soaked in the soft sponges which is fixed to the top and bottom of the silicon oil lubricator beforehand. When oiled once, it can be used for a certain period. 

b. When applying silicon oil to the O-Ring and packing, hold the o-Ring or packing with the lubricator and turn the cover of the lubricator by a 1/4 turn. This will allow applying a suitable amount of silicon oil. 

Remarks: Be careful so dust will not mix into the silicon oil lubricator. After usage, be sure to keep the silicon oil container cover securely tightened. 

(2) O-Ring for crown

Oil to the crown O-Ring is applied directly with an exclusive brush or by applying a suitable amount of oil to the pipe of the watchcase.

For further instruction on oiling portions of watches, please consult to the “CITIZEN TECHNICAL INFORMATION” 

citizen watch oil kit service

I am sure you will love the info and the pictures, just like I do. It is always nice to discover new things about our passion: watches, Vintage Citizen Watches.

Read more interesting facts about Citizen HERE.

Citizen – Kyoto – Sevenstar Rally Custom


The Rally Custom for sure is an interesting watch and such a beautiful one too. But not marking the dial “Citizen” while having a different logo applied is somehow making it even more interesting. What is that “Kyoto” name on the dial?

Let’s start talking about the “regular” Rally Custom (as if this timepiece can even be called “regular). The model reference is 4-521358TA.

citizen sevenstar rallycustom

(the above pictures credited to the on-line seller)

In 1970’s, along with the Yacht Custom and the Soccer Custom (read about the Soccer Custom HERE) citizen made this one, designated for the divers. They called it, you guessed it, Rally Custom. It is made of stainless steel and so is the bracelet. The top part of the case is brushed and the sides are polished. The acrylic crystal is domed and makes the dial look warm and inviting. What can I say about the dial… beautiful sun burst grey center, and three more engraved inner bezels. An orange accent in the dial makes it really attractive. The day window is at 6 and the date at 4. Inside the case we can find the 25 jewel movement, calibre 5290. The automatic movement runs at 18,000 beats per hour. The date can be changed by the operating crown located at 4 but the day changes only by passing the midnight with the hour hand. The crown at 2 rotates the bidirectional inner bezel.citizen kyoto sevenstar rallycustom

So… what about “Kyoto” logo? It seems the Citizen watches marked Kyoto were designated for the French market (hence the French day wheel) and the reason for this might me an trademark problem in this country. Please note that on the Kyoto the hands are much shorter and have a different shape so I am almost 100% sure they are not original. They should look like on the first watch pictured, the one marked Citizen.

Are you a driver? You need one of these! 🙂 It will you make drive more slowly because you need more time at the stoplights to admire the beautiful dial and make all those calculation while operating the bezel.

Citizen Alarm Date Custom V2 Blackie


Without a doubt this is one of my all time favorite alarms! Sporty, great wrist presence, complicated, beautiful and useful! Here it is the NOS, black coated, 1971 Citizen Alarm Date Custom V2 blackie! (model  4-310179Y)

I wrote a few articles about Citizen alarms powered by this movement so the data is the same: a hand wound movement, calibre 3102 (date), 21 Jewels, 18,000 bph. The twin crowns are for time setting and winding the main spring and the other one for setting and winding the alarm. The crown at 2 o’clock in first position is winding the alarm while the alarm is deactivated. If you pull it in the second position you can set the alarm (counterclockwise) and the alarm is activated. Pressing it while the alarm is ringing will stop it. The crown at 4 will wind the watch and pulling it out will set the time. The alarm will ring for about 13-16 seconds.

citizen alarm date custom v2

The case is black coated and so is the bracelet. Read about another beautiful blackie V2 HERE. The three crowns, the bezel and the case back are made of stainless steel and are polished.

The dial is gorgeous, black, with applied luminous hour markers that are still glowing today. The date is located at 3 o clock, in a white frame, and is printed in white on a black date wheel. The second hand is orange and we have one more color, yellow, used for the inner bi directional rotating bezel. This bezel is operated by the third crown, the one located at 10 o’clock. You can use this feature for easily reading the elapsed time, up to 60 minutes, just as you do with your usual diver.

Read more about other alarms on the dedicated page HERE.

Citizen Auto Dater Seven para40mwater day-date


A special place among my favorite Citizen movements is reserved for the Jet ones. And this one has the last of the Jets Citizen ever made. My watch was made in September 1966 and Citizen produced these movements up to about 1967. The last JET is the day-date Auto Dater Seven.

citizen auto dater para water

As you can see, it is in perfect, NOS condition, with price tag and booklet. The writing on the paper is in Japanese only. The day wheel is written in Japanese so, it is safe to conclude that, the watch was intended for JDM (Japan domestic market). The entire case as well as the bracelet, are made of beautifully finished stainless steel. The crystal is acrylic. and has a date magnifier.

The style of the watch is elegant, with a fluted bezel, simple silver dial with a sunburst effect. There is no luminous material on the dial or hands. The frontal part of the case is brushed, and all the rest is polished. The bracelet is also finished with a nice combination of polished and brushed surfaces.  As I mentioned before, it is a day-date. That means that in addition to showing the date (at 3 o’clock), it also displays the day of the week (at 12). The day is in Japanese only, printed in black with red for Sundays. All the hour markers, the day and date frame and the Seven logo are applied.

The crown is used for winding the watch (although it is an automatic it can be winded by hand) and setting the time in the first position. The day changes by advancing the hands passing midnight. The date changes by pulling the crown. One pull of the crown will advance the day of the week one time. The crown get back to first position by it’s own due to a spring. Pulling it again, will change the day one more time. This system was named by Citizen “Easy Change”. What can I say, it is easy indeed.

The movement, is the last Jet, calibre 4102. It has 25 Jewels and beats at 18,800 bph. Beautiful!

Read more about watches powered by Jet movements HERE.