I often get asked: What is the best Citizen made movement? It is a good question but there is no straight forward answer for that. What does it really mean “the best movement”? Is it the most complicated, the most decorated, the most precise? Hard to say because for each of us it could mean a different thing altogether.
Let me start by saying that when this question is asked, these three watches are the ones I think about. They are not chronographs but all are precise and regulated to high standards. They have beautiful movements and at the time they were made they competed with Grand Seiko and their Swiss counterparts and most of the time Citizen winning the game.
You can read about each and every one of them following the links below:
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):
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
They can be made of different materials such as, but not limited to: aluminum alloy, stainless steel, gold, titanium…
Not all the times the crown material matches the watch case material.
They can be coated (black, green, gold, gold plated, silver plated…) or made of solid material
The non – branded ones were first, then came the “C” and the last ones were “CTZ”. These types overlap.
Some are screw-in type, some are not
They can be made of one part or have two parts (as CH or GC – that have a push button as the central part)
The same watch model can sometimes be fitted with slightly different crowns
We will never know all the facts about them.
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!
Everybody knows Citizen was the first worldwide to use Titanium for their watches. They also used Aluminum alloy, Solid gold (white and yellow), Stainless steel, “harder than steel” black coating and they didn’t stop there. With a little bit of luck we can still find watches made of natural materials. In the process of finding new ways, in providing more diversity, Citizen made watch cases made of natural wood and a few types of stone.
These watches were intended for the younger customers that cared a lot about fashion and the way the watches looked like and were also interested in having a watch with a story. As you can see they were branded under Adorex line, or Afro Craft, Cosmo Star, V2… Usually a leather strap was used but I have found a few with a bracelet option. Other materials might have been used for straps but I am not sure. Still to find out.
The movements are diverse, simple or displaying the day / date and some are high beat. The cases are rounded and the crystal sometimes is faceted (see the wood variant below). Colorful, young, eye catching and interesting at the same time.
Thank you Branislav for the beautiful red agate stone picture! Beautiful watch!
I have in my collection a NOS wood case one, original strap, buckle and tags. The build quality is very good and I love the warm feeling of the material. I never had a stone watch but for sure I will find one. Somehow a wood / stone Citizen is a must have for at least once in order to fully appreciate the craftsmanship involved in these.
The picture above is my watch, so I opened it to take a look at the movement. Beautiful, clean and interesting.
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.”
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!
Thank you Citizen for giving us the chance to experience this material too. I love it!