To reflect my intention to provide a representative sample of Citizen’s vintage watches over these early weeks of the blog, this week I’m featuring their first electric model. Launched in March 1966 not only was this Citizen’s first such model, it was also Japan’s first electric watch. With a battery and electronics replacing the mainspring, the movement uses a conventional hairspring and balance, with a fine adjuster indicating that this watch is capable of a high level of accuracy – in fact one version of the Electric Watch was to chronometer standard. At a time when mechanical watches were the standard, this model was seen as ground breaking since it required no winding and would run for at least a year before a battery change was required.
This was an expensive watch when it first appeared, retailing at over JPY30,000 – only the 18k gold Chronomaster was more expensive in the 1970 men’s watch line-up. The first model has a unique case design and was known as the ‘Electric Watch’ – this name featured on the dial as well as the logo ‘X8’. Shortly after this first model Citizen renamed it as the ‘Chronomaster X8’ and added a chronometer grade variant too. The unusual case shape was recognised at the time as it won a design award in Japan.
The technology was to evolve quickly, as did the name, with ‘Cosmotron’ being adopted for the range of electro-mechanical models. Although the X8 logo continued for a while it was eventually dropped (I’ll be adding a page to the blog in due course about the Cosmotrons, so more information on the line and the development of the movements will be available then).
In summary then, and as far as I am aware, this first electronic model can be found in three versions – the very first ‘Electric Watch X8’, the ‘Chronomaster X8’, and the ‘Chronomaster X8 Chronometer’.
My version is the Chronomaster X8 – the unusual case shape is radially brushed on the top:
The dial is finished in silver, with black hour markers and black centres to the hour and minute hands:
The unique case back design, unfortunately badly scratched, shows 1968 production – I believe the mesh bracelet is original to this watch, it certainly matches the 1970 catalog picture:
The case back requires a special tool, along with special case holder:
Inside is the 0821 movement, with 25 jewels even though the mainspring has been replaced by a battery and solid state electronics. This movement runs at 21,600 beats per hour, and the fine adjuster can be seen on the balance:
A small recessed crown allows the movement to be ‘hacked’ when pulled out to adjust the time, by disconnecting the battery:
And finally, why the ‘X8’ name? Well, bearing in mind the limitations of on-line translation, it appears that as ‘X’ can mean an ‘unknown’ and ‘8’ (although derived from the caliber number) when on it’s side is similar to the infinity sign, Citizen suggested that they were rising to the ‘infinite challenge of the unknown’ – or something like that!!