Baselworld 2018 – 100 years of CITIZEN


Citizen is having its 100th anniversary this year and we all know what a major event this is, a once in a lifetime opportunity to take a look at the past century of fine watchmaking and still have a glimpse at the next one. I couldn’t have missed it for the world!

Our trip to Baselworld trip story started a few months ago when visiting the Citizen Headquarters in Tokyo Japan. Our host Wakaba Kuroshima said she was looking forward to see us in Basel. Without even blinking I agreed: that would be lovely! So… fast forward to a few weeks ago when she sent us invitations for the Citizen 100th anniversary party. Thank you Wakaba! We were already accredited as press, to cover the event, but the official Citizen nominal invitations made me so proud to be there that nothing else really mattered those days. We booked a few hotels, cleared our schedule and fueled the car. Road trip to Basel! By the way, this is the first time I went to this well known world watch event and, I know it is hard to imagine, I only did it because of the Citizen party.

The trip was long but awesome! Five countries, 3000 km, 35 hours driving time, a few restaurants along the way and all this for just a two hours party?! Well, that is correct, it was not just a party, it was the Citizens 100th anniversary and there was not a chance I would have missed it. Sunny and snow, cold and rain, stuck in traffic on the highway and yet again doing 250km/h plus on German Autobahn… We made it in Switzerland just in time to meet a few on-line friends at the fair while taking a look at the new watch releases. Unfortunately, because of the tight schedule, I couldn’t meet all the friend I planned to. Hopefully next time.

So… we got our Press badges, entered the fair and took a short look at the Swiss watches. They were really cool and are covered on-line everywhere, but the main reason for our visit was Citizen, so finding the booth was the main goal. It was easy to find. We could’t linger, so back to the hotel we went for a shower and dressing up for the party. The watch I took with me was the first Citizen ever made, the pocket watch. It felt like the perfect choice and I was not wrong. I also had some original Citizen made accessories, with Citizen movements, tie pin and cufflinks that fitted the occasion and the location nicely. In fact, what you see in the pictures as shining little stars hanging from the Citizen booth ceiling were nothing else but thousands of Citizen movements. The design was spectacular and here it is what Tsuyoshi TaneAtelier Tsuyoshi Tane Architects says about it:

“What is time?”
From prehistoric times until now, countless civilizations and tribal nations have asked this very question. The gears of time have been turning ever since humanity first became conscious of the concept, and it is no doubt that we will continue to contemplate time inthe future.

Born alongside time, we have it to thank for human emotions: joy, sorrow, and at times, even suffering. It has created our history and engraved our memories.

Entering the 20th century, however, time was presented with an additional element: speed. Thanks to a revolution in technology, time accelerated – or at least this was the illusion we were under. Before we knew it, humanity had begun to consume time until it had lost its very soul. And now, time has become digital, smart, and taken on a most cold and mechanical nature.

Consequently, CITIZEN has decided to focus on “What time means to the 21st century”.
The question that we have been posed with now – as citizens of the 21st century – is “What is time for?” The answer will depend on our meaning of happiness.

At the CITIZEN Watch Group booth at Basel world 2018, we will be paying homage to this elusive concept under the theme, “We Celebrate Time.” As we approach our 100th year anniversary, the CITIZEN Group as a whole will be holding a special watch exhibition and performance at what we have named Time Theatre. It will also feature the dazzling installation that “turns” light into time, LIGHT is TIME. We will be surrounding our visitors in 21st century-light through an installation of wrist watch main plates meticulously positioned to form a spectacular geometrical space. Bulova will also be holding an exhibition reflecting on time, “History of First” is a visual representation of the brand through the time span of its 143 year history.

Join us in our homage to time in the 21st century, as We Celebrate Time for the sake of the future.

Back at the party I was so pleased to meet Wakaba again and I had the opportunity to meet for the first time in real life my friend Hiroyuki Ohta, manager at Citizen Watch Co., who gave me a lot of support in the last years. Thank you my friend! Hope to see you soon and keep in touch!

 

The music was nice, perfect for the occasion and the light show was awesome, we had a Sushi bar with Japanese chefs and fine drinks. There was a beautiful dance moment “Light is time’ but the highlight of the party was the speech of mr. Toshio Tokura – President and CEO of Citizen Watch Co.,Ltd. Here it is a part of it:

What is Time?

The Citizen Watch Group encompasses six unique brands: CITIZEN, Bulova, Arnold & Son, Frederique Constant, Alpina and CAMPANOLA-each proclaiming its individual achievements in innovative style and technology, which they have cultivated throughout their respective histories. By celebrating time, which includes understanding and acknowledging the time each brand has invested to reach this moment, we believe together as a group, we are better equipped to pioneer the next great advancements in the world of watches.

This year at Baselworld 2018, Citizen Watch Group is pleased to introduce the new Time Theatre, created under this year’s corporate theme, “We Celebrate Time.” The Time Theatre is open to the public and is a place where we hope people can gather and honor the special moments in their lives, from the past to present, as well as gaze into the future and the many amazing experiences that have yet to be realized. The Time Theatre also showcases the latest watches by Citizen Watch Group brands for those who share a common passion for distinguished design and craftsmanship in watchmaking.

In 2018, CITIZEN is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and throughout our existence we have continually sought to define the meaning of “time.” Whether it’s an accumulation of seconds, minutes and hours, all accounted for on our wristwatches-or perhaps the very stream of our lives, “time,” it can be interpreted simply as a series of momentary events that occur. Time truly is precious, so the tools to measure and communicate time must be accurate, and CITIZEN’s unwavering mission and pursuit for accuracy has continued since its founding in 1918.

We are also proud this year to announce the “Cal.0100,” the world’s first light-powered Eco-Drive movement to deliver an accuracy within ± 1 second a year. The Cal.0100 is completely self-sustainable, relying only on a light source and the mechanics of its internal movement to deliver precise timekeeping, autonomously and continuously. The technology allows us a more efficient and honest appraisal of time, and with it, the ability to better manage time and enjoy the precious moments of our life.

Please join us as “We Celebrate Time” at CITIZEN’s Time Theatre, where we will be displaying a number of innovative new products by CITIZEN, Bulova and other Group brands. We thank you for your continued patronage and support, as we set forth into the next 100 years at Citizen Watch Group, and continue our pursuit of excellence while pushing the possibilities of watchmaking design and technology.

Toshio Tokura President and CEO
Citizen Watch Co.,Ltd

During his speech Mr. Toshio Tokura also announced the Citizen  – Disney collaboration and this is a major thing. They became the official timepiece of Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland and Marvel new media’s creative space. Among other things, the Walt Disney World Resort and the Disneyland Resort will begin offering Citizen timepieces featuring designs unique to Disney Parks. Citizen will also become a red-carpet sponsor for the highly anticipated Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War film in April 2018, creating experiences surrounding the release of this milestone movie.

So many good news and for sure the future is looking bright for Citizen and Eco Drive but somehow I feel a little bit disappointed in not having a mechanical watch as a 100th anniversary. Well.. every watch brand is doing an homage and at least a few vintage inspired modern reinterpretations, and they sell like crazy, but Citizen was not. Why? I know why but still, the hope is the one that dies last.

The answer is deep in the Citizen philosophy: Small-ER, Fast-ER, Thinn-ER.  

As a gift, when leaving the party we got the Essence of Citizen 2018 catalogue and two beautifully presented lollipops shaped and the first Citizen and the newest one. Amezaiku – is a traditional Japanese candy craft art. Thank you Citizen! Domo arigato!

The new 100 years will be better and better, that is for sure! They were always improving and innovating so they will not stop.

Better starts now.

The challenge:
Accurate to ± 1 second

CITIZEN has pursued the essence and further possibilities of the watch ever since the company’s founding. There is one challenge that we have actively confronted throughout that entire time: superior precision.
In 1924, we developed our first pocket watch, the “CITIZEN.”
We debuted our first quartz watch accurate to ± 10 seconds per month in 1973, and in 1975, we debuted Crystron Mega, the world’s first quartz watch accurate to ± 3 seconds per year.
We continued to produce even more accurate watches with longer running times incorporating our proprietary light-powered technology Eco-Drive.
This year, as we mark our 100th anniversary, we have achieved yet another milestone: Calibre 0100, an Eco-Drive movement with annual accuracy ± 1 second, which tells the world’s most precise time.*
Calibre 0100 tells the precise time autonomously based on an internal mechanism with no reliance on time signals from radio towers or GPS satellites.
It marks the individual seconds in their purest and most refined form.
Like a strong person who achieves his goals through sheer force of will, it uses its own rhythm to tell the precise time for everyone, wherever they are, without depending on anything outside itself.
The Calibre 0100 marks the start of the next one hundred years of watchmaking for CITIZEN.

Read more about this calibre and the future plans of Citizen HERE.

 

Bottom line: As a collector, am disappointed? No, I am not, in fact I am even more proud of Citizen and even though my heart still wants a vintage inspired Chrono Master 500m my mind knows that this is not the Citizen philosophy. They are respecting the past and are proud of it but they are always looking forward, better and better. It is us, the collectors who are at a certain level stuck in the past, protecting and preserving the wonderful world of  Vintage Citizen watches. What I can do is write, collect and share data and respect them. I will let Citizen do what Citizen does best: be better, evolve and innovate. And yes, a light powered watch, accurate to a a second per year, is way better than a mechanical one. Such an achievement! Every reason to go this way, except for the fact that the heart wants what the heart wants. I will keep on collecting VCW and keep on dreaming of a time long gone, before I was born…

Thank you Citizen! I am so proud and humble at the same time to be a part of this wonderful story that keeps on going!

Happy bithday!

お誕生日おめでとうございます。
Otanjoubi omedetou gozaiasu!

Citizen Guy- www.vintagecitizenwatches.com

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An inside view of Citizen Watch co, seen by VCW


For years, I’ve been collecting vintage Citizen watches. I spend a considerable amount of time researching, collecting, buying, selling as well as restoring and servicing these wonderful timepieces. Sooner or later, it was bound to happen.

Yes, I had the chance to travel to Tokyo, Japan and be a guest at Citizen Watch co. Earlier this year, the company introduced a fascinating new facility – the Citizen Museum. I had the honor of being invited to visit this institution and admire the impressive collection from the company’s watchmaking history.

Let me start by saying that we cannot talk about Citizen without taking into consideration that this is a quintessentially Japanese brand, with the nation’s philosophy and lifestyle encoded in its DNA. Japan is definitely a must-see country. We’re all familiar with martial arts, Buddhism and Shinto. We love bonsai, ikebana, origami and, of course, Japan also means Samurais and Geisha, doesn’t it? It’s all of those things and so much more: respect, simplicity, tradition, work ethics and pride, innovation, art, philosophy… you can find it all in Japan and, indeed, in the wonderful world of Vintage Citizen Watches.

One hundred years ago, the Citizen Watch Co. Ltd. was born under the name Shokosha Watch Research Institute. Mr Shimpei Goto, the mayor of Tokyo, named the first watch “CITIZEN” with the hope that the watch, a luxury item in those times, would become widely available to ordinary citizens and be sold throughout the world.

His ambition materialized. “People appreciated and benefited from the institute’s results”. Prophetic words, indeed. With this statement, the seeds were planted for what would become the world’s largest watch manufacturer. In 1924, the first pocket watch bearing the Citizen moniker was produced. One of the first pieces produced by the company was purchased by Emperor Showa, Prince Regent at the time (Emperor Taisho era). In 1930, Yosaburo Nakajima laid the foundations for the Citizen watch empire. In 1936 the company expanded beyond the boundaries of Japan, exporting watches to many parts of Southeast Asia. This was the starting point of going global and the reason we can all enjy these watches no matter where we are.

Two years ago, I started talking to Mr. Hiroyuki Ota (Otha), Deputy General Manager of Citizen Watch Europe GmbH, about a certain watch model featured in a commercial. Little by little, our conversation developed and we planned this visit to Tokyo headquarters. Once I arrived in the capital, I visited the flagship store to prepare for the following day. Of course I had a beautiful watch ready for the occasion. 😉 (Thank you Eric for sourcing and keeping the watch for me and for the great time we had in Tokyo!)

This is the watch I strapped to my wrist on Monday morning. It is the stainless steel Chronometer and you can read about it HERE. I like to believe it was a great choice, since our host seemed impressed. This model was also on display at the museum, not once, but twice – as a whole watch and in a section discussing its movement.

At 9:00 we were at the Citizen headquarters and we had no problems getting there. Once we got out of the train at the Tanashi station, the Citizen logo on their building was easy to spot. We took a short walk and reached the gate. Because the trains work really well in Japan, we were able to schedule out trip with such precision that we arrived at 8:57, since our meeting was at 9:00.

The doorman was aware of our visit and someone walked us into the waiting room. Two minutes later, at 9:00 sharp, we were met by Ms. Wakaba Kuroshima (Product Management Section & Product Marketing Department) with whom I had communicated prior to my arrival. She was very helpful in providing all the information needed in order to get there in time and also a few welcomed pieces of advice about what to do in Tokyo. She took us into the museum.

Mr. Yasuyuki Sakamaki (Citizen Museum Director & Citizen Archives General Manager) along with Mr. Takeo Ishino (Manager Product Management Section & Product Marketing Department) and Mr. Shoiji Misono (Manager Product Planning Section & Product Marketing Department) welcomed us. They were all extremely gracious and evidently proud of their work and their company. Everything was clean, neatly arranged, well-planned and executed. Our hosts kindly showed us around and answered all our questions.

Our tour started with a short film that rendered some of the most important events in the history of Citizen and a few of the innovations made by them throughout the years, and there are a lot of them. After this, we were invited to see some watches, important pieces, hand-picked by our host and guide, the museum director. There are 130 watches on a 24-meter-long display. The 24 m represent the hours of a day. So we can witness 100 years of development in one single day.

We learned so many things about Citizen: the first titanium watch, the first Japanese water proof watch, the thinnest movement at a certain time, Guinness World Record for smallest watch movement, Eco-drive technology, radio wave…. and so many more world or Japanese premiers. The tour also introduced us to some machinery and because Citizen is a truly in-house made watch, the company manufactures the machines that make the machines that make the watches! How cool is that?! And Citizen is not only watches; they also produce car parts, led lights and a lot of other non-watch-related things, all with the greatest dedication. Inspiring!

 

After the tour, we sat down for coffee and I had the chance to ask a few questions.

  • Next year Citizen will be celebrating its 100-year anniversary. How does it feel to be reaching such a milestone?
  • We are proud of these one hundred years, but it is not the end. We don’t see it this way. It is only the beginning of the next 100.

 

  • How do you imagine the next centenary?
  • We focus a lot on the future and at the same time we treasure and cherish out past, the tradition. What we are aiming for is to look ahead and continue on our path the same way. Trying to improve, to be better.

 

  • Will Citizen go mechanical high end?
  • We do not, in fact, have this plan at the moment. The technology is there, but this is not our main focus. We have the Campanola…
  • I know Citizen has made a tourbillon, the Y01.
  • Yes, but it was a one-time thing and we have no plans of pursuing this path in the near future. In fact, there were only two pieces made.

 

  • How do you view the past? Citizen made awesome watches and we love them so much!
  • We are very proud of our past and we have a few watches on display that we treasure. Citizen had the same philosophy for a long time and the past watches, the present ones and future ones will show it too. Citizen had a lot of global and Japan “firsts” and we were always looking to improve, to offer a better product.

 

  • Do you have an archive for vintage? Do you service them, offer parts for restoration?
  • Citizen doesn’t keep an archive and doesn’t offer service and parts for watches unless they are in the warranty period.

 

  • Do you encourage the vintage market for VCW?
  • At the moment we don’t have a plan in this direction. We appreciate collectors such as yourself and are amazed by your watches and your passion. Why do you collect VCW and where do you find them?
  • For me, as a collector, I find a lot of diversity and quality still at a very reasonable price. My father had a Citizen, a blue-dial, that he bought when I was born. It was quartz but still made me love the brand. Finding them is not easy… I’ve spent hours every day for years, looking for the best pieces.
  • Thank you for everything!
  • Thank you, we are humbled and honored by the passion collectors invest in our brand.

 

  • Will Citizen recreate some important historical watches? A lot of brands are investing in this direction.
  • Next year is going to be Citizen’s centennial so… (spoiler alert – you heard it here first, on VCW) we are going to present a homage watch. But because Better starts now… we don’t search into the past, we are proud of it but we go forward and in fact we have several directions to follow.
  • Wow! What model will it be? That is such a great surprise. I’m sure the readers will be thrilled.
  • We can’t say right now but we will introduce it to Baselworld next year. You are invited to see it there and hopefully we will meet again. What I can say is that it is in the final stages of development.

 

  • Thank you so much! I will wait for it and will probably meet you again there. Do you have a message you would like to share with the fans of your brand?
  • Next year is an important passing point, (100 years) we look at our history but this is the beginning of the next 100. We try to send this message at Baselworld.
  • So keep an eye on Citizen! Thank you again! Arigato gozaimas!

Back to my visit, a few images that I hope you will enjoy. In the picture above you can see the Parawater and the Pacific buoy, in the picture below you can see some old machinery, some old tools and the cabinet (all made by the Citizen company).

The past was impressive and this is why we love it so much. They were trying from day one to provide the best watches they can do at affordable prices so everyone could get such a luxury item. Divers, chronographs, complicated watches… elegant ones in stainless steel or gold, platinum, titanium, stone, wood… and everything you can think of. Citizen was always pushing for a better watch and a better one. Their motto is Better Starts Now” and they promise and they deliver.

Present day is only a continuation of yesterday, so it makes sense to go a step further. Yes, they are not high end mechanical watches but they made watches that you can wear and enjoy at a daily basis while having fun. They still make reliable watches and innovation is their game and they are winning it. “We are the citizens, the people who see the world as a work in progress. A place to be improved. A place where time is measured not in seconds, but in steps forward. Some will say we are obsessive, but if you love something, why would you not strive to make it better? We don’t live in the glories of our past, our sights are firmly set forward. Are we aiming for perfection? No, for us, to admit perfection is to admit defeat. To stop. And if time never stops, why should we? We’re heading for better.”

Tomorrow will bring us an even better watch and I can’t wait to be there to witness it. In the picture above you can see the Citizen logo machined into a natural hair. Just imagine the level of precision of tomorrow! And based on the amount of innovation they accomplished on these 100 years, I can’t wait to see what the next 100 will bring. All we have to do is eat healthy, exercise, rest, love, collect VCW, be calm and stress free and we will meet here again in one hundred years. 🙂

 

As a conclusion: awesome people, awesome company and awesome watches! If I was a big Vintage Citizen Watches fan before the visit, now I am twice as much. I was so impressed by the modesty, respect and the warmth of the people at Citizen…. and a company is only as good as the people that work there. They do it with such love, respect and dedication! Love it!

Thank you Citizen, thank you all and I hope you found useful information here. Also, you can join the Vintage Citizen Watches Facebook group HERE.

Arigato gozaimas!

Citizen Guy – www.vintagecitizenwatches.com