Quartz, but collectable…..

Although my collection covers Citizen’s mechanical and electro-mechanical watches, I have had to scratch a certain itch – and that is Citizen’s early quartz watches. I came to realise and appreciate that before mass production kicked this new technology was used in high grade and well made pieces. At the time, i.e. the early and mid 1970s, Citizen’s quartz models were the most expensive in their model line-up, reflecting the innovation and accuracy that quartz driven movements brought to the market. They were built to the same standards as high end mechanical models, and were capable of being serviced and a long life as a result.

Given all this, early examples of Citizen’s quartz revolution are very collectable. Some are very rare. For example the super accurate ‘4 Mega’ models with an annual accuracy of +/- 3 or 10 seconds is quite a thing – the top of the range retailed at 4.5 million yen in 1977!  I haven’t got one of them 🙂

More typically, early quartz models ran at +/- 15, 10 or 5 seconds a month, depending on the movement, with the 5 second models described as ‘EFA’ (extra fine accuracy). Compare that to the chronometer grade mechanical watches at that time, where +/- 5 seconds a day would be pretty good, and it’s clear why quartz became the predominant technology.

Although I’ll do a ‘Featured Watch’ post on each of these at some time, here’s a quick look at my three examples of Citizen’s early quartz models – first, a pic:

And I’ll start with the one at the centre, since this uses Citizen’s very first quartz movement, launched in 1972 – amazingly it retains a hairspring, as seen in the Cosmotrons. The 16,384Hz quartz oscillation in this 8811 movement is converted to 16Hz so the watch runs at 16 beats per second – 57,600 beats per hour! My example is from October 1973. The 8811 has an accuracy of +/- 10 seconds a month – the 8810 version is the EFA variant, i.e. +/- 5 seconds a month.

The 88xx movement was soon superseded by fully electronic movements, and the watch on the right is from August 1974. This has the 8600A movement and is an ‘LED’ model – the small LED lamp at 12 o’clock flashes every 60 seconds, with a +/- 10 seconds accuracy per month. The 8600E variant is the EFA version. Mine is marked ‘QUARTZ’, so it’s an early one, since from around October 1974 they were marked ‘Crystron’.

Finally, the one on the left is an unusual and rare Crystron, probably from around 1977/8. The dial is marked EFA, as is the 8560A movement, so it is a +/- 5 seconds a month watch. I have only found one other example of this model on the internet. The case is also interesting, and a rare type. It’s marked ‘IG’ which indicates a stainless steel case with a mirror finish titanium nitride (i.e. gold colour) coating. It is a nice alternative to a standard gold plated case, with a paler and more subtle colour.

Can’t help but like these 🙂


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10 Responses to Quartz, but collectable…..

  1. Marvin says:

    Thanks Stephen for the quick article on your electro mechanicals and quartz models. I too have a couple of the old quartz and Crystron’s and they are among my favorites.

  2. Mark Bransdon says:

    What a great site, jam packed full of information…well done. Mate, hopefully you might be able to assist me, I recently acquired a Crystron watch that has on the back the following information
    4-851684 TA

    I have search high and low on the net and I basically couldn’t find any useful information


    • sweephand says:

      Hi Mark, thanks for visiting my blog, and for your kind comment. Your watch is a relatively early example of the Crystron range, dating from March 1978 (see ‘803’ in the serial number). Your particular model (50-8322) was available from at least 1977 – I have it listed in a casing parts catalogue from 1977. Citizen launched their fully electronic quartz models in 1974. The case number – 4-851684 – helps to identify the movement, which is one of the 85 calibres. Specifically, yours is the 8550A-04. The 04 refers to it having 4 jewels I think. This movement runs at 32,768Hz, and was rated accuracy-wise at +/- 10 seconds per month. It was designed for a long life and to be serviced. They were expensive watches when first sold, made to high standards which is why they can still be found running accurately and reliably. GN-S-U is the case type code, indicating a water resistant design, whilst GP means gold plated of course, with a stainless steel back. Hope this helps, Stephen

  3. Sunny says:

    Not to long i left this site for the my daily routine as a teacher is to teach at home using home learning methods because covid19 cases are on the rise in Malaysia, so today there is an opportunity because I want to ask about the Citizen Crystron watch I just got, the watch on off running, and when I pull the crown to setting the time, the hand second moment follow once turn, is this normal if battery already weak or there is another problem at the movement??

    • sweephand says:

      Hi Sunny, thank you for visiting my blog. Can you please let me know what the case number is on your watch back – we should be able to determine from that what the movement is and, hopefully, find some technical information about it. Stephen

  4. Jacky says:

    Dear Stepten,

    I have purchased a 8550 from yahoo japan. However, I didn’t notice there is a crack through the case. Other than that, the watch is almost in perfect condition. I notice there is UHA mark on the caseback, which means Ultra Hard Alloy (titanium carbide) case from your chart. (Thank you for your great information!) The case is in a quite special colour. It look dull but in an attractive way. I don’t know whether I can find a replacement case. And it don’t seems very worthy since the watch is not very expensive. But I wonder if there is any way to repair it – at least I can glue it and secure the caseback?

    The auction information is still available. You can find the pictures of it on this link: https://page.auctions.yahoo.co.jp/jp/auction/d505400825

    Thank you so much!

    • sweephand says:

      Hi Jacky, although these ultra hard materials are very scratch resistant, they can crack or chip when they hit something hard. I’m not a watchmaker so I can’t offer much advice – I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some kind of filler/glue that would help. Maybe someone reading this can help?

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