This Week’s Featured Watch #56 – the X8 Titanium Chronometer

This final Featured Watch of 2013 is something of a rarity – ‘rare’ is a much over-used term when it comes to vintage watch descriptions, but I’m confident that this one qualifies. The X8 Chronometer in a titanium case was produced only in 1970 and less than 2000 were produced, or sold. As Citizen themselves say (with apologies for the quirky on-line translation): Sales in short 2,000 less than production period, it is rare model with no opportunity to see quite now’.

The movement in this is the second generation X8 / Cosmotron ‘0820’, an electro-mechanical calibre with 19 jewels produced only for a couple of years from 1970 to 1972. The chronometer version, officially certified by the Japan Chronometer Association, appeared in just two models as far as I know.

Although the other model is itself seldom seen, this blue dialled one, given such a small production number, is particularly scarce. I have seen just one other for sale, on Yahoo Japan. However, it is made all the more special by the fact that it was a world first! It was the first watch to be made with a pure titanium case – Citizen describe it as being 99.6% titanium:

The case is unpolished, so is grey, and over the years the edges have been somewhat polished by use (giving it quite a nice look in my opinion). This model originally came on a plain black leather strap, so I’ve used a stitched leather strap for now, whilst I look for one that is closer to the original type. The case back is unique, in that the virtues of titanium are emphasised by the use of ‘scratch proof’:

From the serial number the production date is May 1970, whilst Citizen say it was first sold in September of that year.  ‘T. N.’ is used for the case material code – titanium was used for the case, bezel and crown:

Unusually, and not something I’ve seen in an X8/Cosmotron before, there is an inner back protecting the movement:

Under the cover is the 0820 movement, running at 21,600 beats per hour:

A closer look shows the unique movement number – and for those of you knowledgeable about batteries, I’ve now changed the alkaline one in the pic for a silver oxide cell:

The movement is running well, and keeping good time. With the crown pulled out (see second photo above) the electrical connection is broken so the watch is stopped when the time is set.

Other than solid gold models, this was the most expensive of Citizen’s range in 1970 – at JPY45,000 it was a fair bit more than the Chrono Masters and Leopard Chronometers. It was JPY10,000 more than it’s stainless steel sibling:

I don’t know why Citizen didn’t produce more of this model – Citizen make reference to the Apollo 11 moon landing, suggesting that it was a special edition to recognise that and the use of new materials like titanium in the space programme. Maybe machining of the material was not easy at first, even though it is now commonly seen for watch cases and bracelets. Also, the future of electro-mechanical models was clearly doomed at that time by the development of quartz technology, which quickly became Citizen’s priority in the 1970s.

An interesting piece of watch making history, this global first for Citizen is a nice way to round off 2013’s Featured Watches.

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6 Responses to This Week’s Featured Watch #56 – the X8 Titanium Chronometer

  1. bramp says:

    Indeed a very nice looking piece. Think they might have produced some in May allready, but started selling them in September.
    I really like the titanium casing, the appearance and design, it’s just great!

  2. Marko says:

    Hi, Stephen!
    That´s something!!! Very nice watch ! It´s kind of funny thing to see those electric wires within the movement 😀 And there are a quite lot of zeros in serial number, rarity in that sense,too 😀
    Well, that production count, 2000 pcs, it´s almost like “limited edition”. So, maybe they knew already in 1970, what will be the next thing…
    Merry Christmas for every one!

    Marko

    • sweephand says:

      Hi Marko,
      I suspect it was probably a special edition, but the writing was on the wall as quartz was being developed.

      Merry Christmas to you and best wishes for a peaceful New Year,
      Stephen

  3. bramp says:

    Merry christmas Stephen!! Best wishes for 2014!

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