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The 88xx movement was soon superseded by fully electronic movements, and the watch on the right is from August 1974.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 🙂