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The Japanese watches have always amazed the public with technological achievements. Quartz movement, solar technology, and multi-band technology are just a few to mention.
Along with the great names in the Japanese industry stands firmly Citizen. They, too, are recognized for technology-equipped watches, providing precisely the kind of innovativeness that watch enthusiasts crave for.
But are Citizen watches good and actually worth the hype?
In the following guide, we’ll look into different factors defining the quality standards in order to give you an honest response.
Before proceeding to the analysis, let us peek into the brand’s history to get an idea of its role in horology.
Want to head straight to the watches? Check out our shortlist of the best Citizen watches!
History of Citizen Watches
For a quick overview of Citizen’s history, we’ve conducted an easily-readable infographic that you’ll find below.
The predecessor of Citizen, the Shokosha Watch Research Institute, was founded in 1918 in Tokyo, Japan, by a jeweler Kamekichi Yamazaki. At the time of the widespread consumption of imported watches, Mr. Yamazaki decided to produce wristwatches domestically that would be less expensive than the imports.
In 1924, after years of experimenting, they came out with a mechanical pocket watch called Citizen. The name, by the way, originates from the suggestion of the then-mayor of Tokyo, Shinpei Goto. The name was to represent the availability of timepieces for all the citizens.
The new decade saw the formation of a new company – Citizen Watch Co – as we know them today. With the help of Swiss and Japanese investors, the brand now had all the groundworks set for a successful future.
World War II and the following decade was a period that put the brand to the test. It was a time of make-or-break. Eventually, Citizen was able to seize international opportunities and develop its technologies, which kept the brand running and developing.
In 1956, Citizen presented its first watch with a shock resistance system, called the Parashock. By showcasing in numerous ways of how reliable the watch was, one of them was dropping it from a helicopter in front of the eyes of thousands of spectators, the brand gradually raised the public’s awareness.
By 1966, six years after the introduction of the first electronic watch of Bulova Accutron, Citizen had developed Japan’s first electronic watch.
The “firsts” kept pouring in when in 1970 Citizen produced the world’s first titanium watch, later becoming the leader of manufacturing such wristwear. The same decade saw them introducing the first-ever solar-powered analog quartz watch, something that would later become the brand’s trademark.
By 1986, Citizen had grown to the largest producer of wristwatches in the world. The brand held “the title” for more than ten years. During that time, it launched the world’s first multi-band atomic timekeeping watch (1993) and has remained a pioneer of this field ever since.
Eco-Drive technology, the most recognized innovation from Citizen, was actually launched quite recently, in 1995. The solar technology solved the most significant problem with quartz watches – the endless battery replacement. Today, the Eco-Drive watch is the synonym of Citizen when the majority of timepieces carry this technology.
The most recent achievements of Citizen have been the acquirements of two great watch brands – Bulova Watch Company was bought in 2008 and the Swiss Frederique Constant Group in 2016. The transactions cemented Citizen Watch Co at the very top of the largest watch producers in the world.
Where Are Citizen Watches Made?
One of the first questions that typically pops into mind when evaluating the quality of particular watches is where they are made.
The truth is that all Citizen brand watches are made in-house in Japan.
Citizen is one of the most vertically integrated manufacturers in the world. With around 20 factories scattered all around Japan, the brand manufactures everything, starting with watch hands and circuits and finishing with gears and oscillating weights. They even produce the very machines that manufacture the parts.
When it comes to the origins of the watch movements you’ll find in every Citizen watch, then Miyota is the prime supplier. The reason for this is quite straightforward – the world-famous caliber manufacturer belongs to the Citizen Watch Co.
Contrasting to typical timepieces, however, the higher-end watches from the Citizen Chronomaster line are hand-assembled by Meisters and Super Meisters who’ve studied the art of watchmaking for decades. Though, these watches are sold only in Japan and the surrounding area and cost several thousand dollars, too.
During the long years of existence, Citizen has excelled in developing technological miracles. The most recognized are listed below.
The oil crisis at the beginning of the 1970s raised awareness and interest around alternative sources of clean energy. The company responded to the challenge and created the world’s first light-powered watch in 1976. A couple of decades later, the renewed technology became to be known as Eco-Drive.
The innovation converts any light into energy to power a watch, storing the surplus on a power cell.
The watches are equipped with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery charged by an amorphous silicon photocell located behind the dial. When fully charged, the solar-powered watch can run for months without the need for a light source.
Some of the Eco-Drive models have an insufficient charge warning, which alerts the wearer of insufficient light sources by moving the second hand in 2-second intervals.
Power Saving Function, another feature in some of the watches, stops the hands to save energy when the watch is left in the dark.
The Citizen brand claims their rechargeable batteries will last up to 40 years, and it is highly unusual for these batteries to fail.
You can check out our post on the best solar watches where numerous Citizen Eco-Drive timepieces are represented.
Besides solar power, Citizen is well-known for another highly regarded innovation as well – atomic timekeeping. In fact, Citizen was the pioneer of multiband radio-controlled watches when the first models entered the stage as early as 1993.
An atomic watch receives signals from radio transmitters and adjusts time several times at night with the accuracy of a second in thousands of years.
The first radio-controlled watch from Citizen had an antenna running vertically across the dial. The peculiar design was due to the interferences from metal parts that influenced then-weak radio signals entering the receiving circuit.
While the next innovation saw the antenna move from the dial to the side of the watch, the nowadays technology of hidden receiver under the full metal case came out in 2003.
Citizen promises to continue the innovation to make their timepieces even more convenient and up-to-date.
Innovation derived from atomic timekeeping is Satellite Wave technology.
When a multiband timepiece depends on the distance from the transmitter and won’t be able to switch between all the timezones, the satellite equivalent can receive timely updates anywhere in the world, no matter where you are located.
Citizen introducec this technology in 2011. The watches receive time reception in three seconds, which is one of the fastest results on the market.
The pioneer of titanium wristwear, Citizen possesses probably the most reliable and affordable titanium watches around.
Through in-house developments, the brand has been able to exploit the characteristics of the metal to its limits. Super Titanium, as it’s called, is allegedly five times harder and 40% lighter than stainless steel.
By treating the watches with Duratect, Citizen’s proprietary surface-hardening technology, they can produce scratch-resistant, lightweight, hypoallergenic, and rust-resistant wristwear.
One may wonder how a quartz movement, straightforward in its construction, can be a technological achievement for a company. But it can because the Citizen brand has been boasting with the most accurate quartz timepieces in the world.
Several years ago, the Citizen Chronomaster CTQ57-0953 was regarded as the most accurate watch with a rating of +/- 5 seconds a year. A few years later, in 2018, they set a new record when the prototype Caliber 0100 had an unprecedented accuracy of +/- 1 second a year.
Now, the brand has a couple of watches available with this astonishing caliber. But expect to pay a four-figure sum as they won’t come cheap.
The technologies that Citizen provides are jaw-dropping, especially considering the prices they are marketed.
However, innovations alone don’t guarantee the overall durability of watches. You need to consider the materials and movements as well.
Citizen employs all the expected materials that make up a quality affordable timepiece.
As such, you’ll find stainless steel to be the primary case and band material and mineral crystal the substance of a dial glass. These two are reliable components of a long-lasting timepiece and can be found in watches costing around $200.
The somewhat pricier tickers, however, are covered with lightweight titanium and feature sapphire crystal. The latter is considered the best crystal in contemporary timepieces. Although it’s not as shatterproof as mineral glass, it offers an impeccable scratch resistance that no other crystal can.
When it comes to watch bands, they’re made of stainless steel, rubber, leather, and fabric. The selection of various styles and colors of bands is enormous. Also, all the sizes for different lug widths are available.
After acquiring the Miyota company, the powerhouse in movement manufacturing, Citizen can equip its wristwear with the highest quality and reliability standards.
The most accurate quartz movements have become inherent to Citizen. The A660 and Caliber 0100 movements are the cream of the crop, which, of course, doesn’t mean the rest of the movements wouldn’t do the job. Quite the contrary.
The more modest mechanisms may not possess the highest accuracy, but they still guarantee the quality and durability that you would expect from a highly reliable timepiece carrying such movement.
Apart from quartz calibers, the percentage of mechanical wristwear in Citizen’s collections is quite low since the greater emphasis is placed on Eco-Drive quartz movements. Nevertheless, you’ll find some watches with an automatic self-winding mechanism as well.
The reputation that Citizen has achieved over the decades is high. The majority of it is owed to the achievements in watch technologies.
For example, the Eco-Drive watches are the most recognized solar-powered timepieces in the world. Not only do they provide ultimate convenience for buyers, but also reliability. As a result, it’s common for a Citizen Eco-Drive wristwatch to last for more than 20 years.
Their titanium watches are sought-after for being lightweight and durable, while the atomic precision watches find their way to wearers’ wrists for the ability to adjust to the correct time and timezone in the shortest possible time.
You’ll find numerous comparisons between the two similar Japanese watch brands – Citizen and Seiko. Both of them are highly recognized in the industry.
One of the explanations for a high reputation that Citizen has achieved can, most likely, be counted on the competition with Seiko that has pushed both parties to achieve better and better technological results.
Along with another Japanese watch powerhouse Casio, the rivalry for the first position is stiff, and who wouldn’t want to occupy the most prestigious spot?!
Besides the recognition from customers and watch connoisseurs, Citizen has also gained a reputation for being the official timekeeper of the US Open tennis championships from 1993 to 2017. In addition, Manchester United football club and Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team have had sponsorships with Citizen.
How Much Does a Citizen Watch Cost?
Since there is a wide array of Citizen watches, you can find a simple yet durable timepiece costing $100, as well as a high-end model full of technologies priced at four-figure digits.
Eco-Drive equipped wristwear is typically available in all price categories, but if you add Super Titanium or Satellite Wave technologies, the value rises. A Citizen watch with either of the technologies can cost somewhere between $300-$600.
The most expensive watches that feature the majority of previously described technologies are priced between $1,000-$2,000.
So, Are Citizen Watches Good?
When concluding the previous paragraphs, then an honest response would be: yes, Citizen watches are very good and definitely worth the hype.
The reliability you get from the wristwear is world-class, the technologies provide the utmost convenience, and the prices are genuinely affordable, making the brand one of the best affordable watch companies around.
The partnerships with numerous international events all but validate how good the watches are, and how accepted the company is in general.
Considering the brand’s approach to investing vast amounts of finances into research and development, we can rest assured that the high standards they’ve already presented will not fade away.
This guide would be incomplete without looking into the watch collections the brand offers. Following, you’ll find all the major lines from Citizen production that are available.
The most prestigious collection from the Citizen brand is Promaster, comprising Air, Land, Sea, and Racing lines. The collection can easily be an individual brand of its own due to the wide selection of wristwear for numerous walks of life.
The Promaster dive watches possess ISO standard to depths of 200m (660ft) to 1,000m (3,300ft) and are powered by light. By a solid vote, they belong among the best diving watches you can get below $500.
Aviation watches – the Navyhawk and the Skyhawk – come with atomic time and chronograph function, and the Land series offer shock-resistant timepieces with Super Titanium coating.
The Racing line, as you can expect, provides a stopwatch function and a tachymeter in its wristwear.
You’ll also come across automatic watches, but the number of such wristwear is quite minimal. One of the standout models is the Citizen NY0040-17LE – a 42mm dive watch with hacking and hand-winding capabilities.
Check the current models and prices of Citizen Promaster collection on Amazon.
Citizen World Chronograph A-T
This is the collection for accuracy chasers and regular international travelers. The relevant feature of atomic time is capable of adjusting the watch in numerous timezones.
You’ll also find a stopwatch function measuring intervals to 1/20-second precision, as well as a rotating inner slide rule bezel for measurement unit conversions.
Because of the chronograph and inner slide rule bezel, the faces of World series watches look rich in detail and give out a luxurious impression. Neatly-finished stainless steel cases in combination with classy bands only but complement the luxuriousness.
Given the influential impression the watches showcase, the Citizen World Chronograph collection is available for as little as $200-$500.
The Citizen PCAT collection is another line of wristwear with atomic timekeeping.
PCAT stands for Perpetual Chrono Atomic Time, so you can already guess what these watches feature – a chronograph function measures in 1-second intervals for up to 60 minutes, and a perpetual calendar never needs manual adjustments.
In addition, the Eco-Drive quartz movement combined with atomic timekeeping assures the precisest time possible.
Citizen Satellite Wave
Satellite Wave watches are capable of receiving timekeeping signals in an astonishing three seconds.
These Eco-Drive watches are covered with ion-plated stainless steel and sapphire crystal. Inner dial circle features 27 major cities in different timezones, while the small circle on the face shows weekdays. The watches are guaranteed to 10 ATM of water-resistance – perfect for snorkeling, swimming, and showering.
There are also limited-edition professional models available that comprise Super Titanium and extra features.
Citizen Corso watches represent the classic style of the brand. Simple analog watches, but also some chronographs, come with non-other than Eco-Drive quartz movement.
Corso watches are perfect for business wear, presenting modest yet well-mannered apparel.
Stainless steel case and mineral crystal are prevalent in the collection, as are metal and leather bands.
Citizen’s watches have been widely employed in the military. Citizen Chandler series is dedicated to this field, offering simple yet practical military-inspired timepieces. In addition, they’re the most affordable watches you can get from Citizen.
Easily readable numbers and luminous indices and hands provide the handiness a soldier so desperately requires. Fabric and leather straps sit comfortably to the wrist, while practically-sized stainless steel cases stay unnoticed for unwanted eyes.
And, of course, Eco-Drive solar technology powers the watches.
The collection offers some chronographs for modern casual wear as well.
Another modern line of wristwear is the Citizen Brycen.
Chronograph function equipped and racing-inspired Eco-Drive wristwear come in various color specters and mostly use leather straps.
The glass is of mineral crystal, and watch hands glow in the dark. Besides the 1/5-second precision stopwatch, you’ll also find a tachymeter or a bezel on the outer circle for time and distance calculations.
This series contains a variety of watches ranging from traditional styles to sportier timepieces for the ambitious, driven man on the go.
In the sportier end, a chronograph function with a tachymeter comes in handy in lap timing and distance and speed measuring. The protrusive pushers add volume, while colorful dials bring out the flashy nature of the watches.
More traditional models have an analog face with three hands, powered by solar energy. Water-resistance is up to 100m (330ft), protecting the wristwear from water damages.
We’ve already covered numerous reasons why the brand is so reputable. One that we still haven’t mentioned is the warranty policy, which is quite extraordinary considering the price point the wristwatches are sold.
The brand offers an astonishing 5-year limited warranty. It covers automatic and quartz watches in the United States, Canada, the UK, Australia, Ireland, the Caribbean, and Mexico.
In the EU, except for the British islands, the warranty is for two years.
Since warranty policies tend to change over time and by country, please ensure the validity before the purchase. Citizen has region-based homepages (the USA, Europe, Asia, etc.), so pick the right site according to your location.
Final Take on Citizen Watches
By working through this post, you now must have an idea of what the brand is like.
For an easy conclusion, Citizen offers in-house built highly innovative timepieces for the utmost convenience in user experience. Being the pioneers of solar-powered technology and atomic timekeeping, you can expect excellent quality standards from Citizen watches.
The only problem left is to find the most suitable out of the vast selection of Citizen watches.
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