Citizen’s Challenge Timers – Just the ‘Bullheads’?

Citizen’s best known vintage mechanical chronograph is usually called the ‘bullhead’, a name that is of course not specific to the Citizen brand. The correct original name for Citizen’s bullheads was ‘Challenge Timer’, but only recently I have found that this name in fact applied to all their chronographs. Here’s a scan from October 1972 marketing material, showing two of the 8100A single register chronographs (NB: I think the blue cast is caused by the printing):

1972 was the year Citizen launched their chronograph watches – so this image was part of the regular newsletter to dealers which presented, among other things, the new models they would be selling. I believe the 8100A was launched first, with the 8110A following in 1973 (gleaned from Citizen’s own historical information).

Here are the same two models in the 1972 catalog, with retail prices (about JPY5000 less than the 8110A two register models) – these images are also good for showing the original bracelets these models came on as well as the type of case finish (NB: note dials both look to be black in this image, I’ve not seen any examples of this model with a blue dial):

These two are variants of the same model, which had no ’67-xxxx’ model number, only a case number – 4-900014 – so these may have been the first of the range.

My own example is from May 1972 – it was made that month, but these were first sold, according to Citizen, in October of that year (which fits with the date of the marketing material):

The back gives the early production date:

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8110A Restoration Page – Final Update

Just added the final instalment of 31 Jewels’ excellent restoration page.                            Well worth a visit :)

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This Week’s Featured Watch #58 – Jet Automatic, 21j

The ‘Jet’ range of automatics was introduced by Citizen in October 1961. They used their in-house movement with circular, geared rotor and were made until around 1965. The first movement was the 0310, with 21, 23 or 25 jewels with no date or day complications. My example of this one is a new arrival, and is in very decent condition. The gold plated case has stood up very well, the older plating seems to be better quality than we see in the 1970s:

There are a few scratches on the glass, but that can probably be improved with a little polishing, especially since it’s acrylic. The dial printing is very fine:

The back is well worn, aided and abetted by rather shallow engraving – this shows that the watch has been well used, evidencing the quality of the plating on the case:

At the right angle the markings can just about be made out, from ‘STAR’ (the case factory name) at the top to the case number, JT15803, at the bottom. On the inside of the back, free from wear of course, we find the serial number, giving a production date of August 1962. There is also evidence of servicing work being done:

The movement looks to be in good condition, and is running well, keeping good time:

It’s always good to open one of these up :)

More info on the Jet auto’s here:


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Jet Family

Here’s a group shot of my Jets – the most recent arrivals are the two on the left, the early plain dialled model and the Rookie. SONY DSC

The Jets use Citizen’s circular geared rotor rather than the more usual swinging weight. The three years covered by this group – 1962 to 1965 – pretty well covers the production run of these automatics. By 1964 the UniAuto was in production, with a swinging weight rotor, marking the beginning of the end of the Jet.

More info can be found here:

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8110A Restoration Page Updated

The restoration reaches its conclusion – and the performance of the watch on the timer is impressive…

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This Week’s Featured Watch #57: Cosmotron GX (green dial)

I’ve featured a Cosmotron GX before – Number 33 in the series – but I have a second example. This one grabbed my attention since it has an unusual dial, featuring a textured green finish and contrasting white chapter ring:

The GX has a single coil tuning fork movement, so is a bit of an anomaly in the Cosmotron line-up since they are normally powered by an electro-mechanical movement. This example was made in 1975 – the movement number is 3701B, with 11 jewels:

As with the Hisonic tuning fork model, the second hand sweep is very smooth, at 360 beats per second. The hands on this GX are nicely finished, with white centres, and are a little clearer in this shot:

More info and movement shots:

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Export Models

Identifying Citizen’s many models can sometimes be challenging – and it’s made more so when the watch appears not to carry the expected model markings. At first it seems that the watch might be a fake or a re-dial – and sometimes this may of course be true! But it’s worth knowing that as early as the 1960s Citizen was exporting watches well beyond the Japanese domestic market, and sometimes their watches are marked differently. What I’ve noticed is that usually the model name is dropped from the dial. For example, here are two auto-daters that would normally carry the ’540′ or ’520′  name below the 12 0′clock marker:


As you can see from these two, they carry the ‘Waterproof’ mark rather than ‘Parawater’, and ‘Shockproof’ rather than ‘Parashock’,  another indication that these were for export.:

The 02 ‘Homer’ movement was often used in export models, and it’s not unusual to see this type of dial, marked ‘water protected’ (a lower level of protection than waterproof) and ‘unbreakable spring’ :

Here’s a woman’s watch marked in a similar way, this time with  a 1910 movement, from 1967 – this movement was used in the ‘Excel’ watches sold in Japan :

The back carries lots of information!:

The situation gets more complicated further by the use of a different model name. In this example, with thanks to Pete in New Zealand for sending the pics, an automatic with the 5470 movement usually seen in the ‘Crystal Date’ is given the ‘Newmaster’ moniker:

Again the back is marked waterproof, whilst the case number is consistent with the movement inside:

Citizen used the ‘Newmaster’ name across a range of automatic and hand winding models – most frequently it’s seen on the early 1970s hand winders with ‘Homer’ movements.

Finally, one model name that I think has been used only on export models is ‘Super King’. I’ve seen it with a Jet auto as well as the 52 & 54 movements. As far as I know, so far at least, this wasn’t a model sold on the Japanese domestic market:

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