More often than not, we tend to focus on high-end, complex watchmaking. This is, after all, what makes us dream at MONOCHROME. But there’s more to this industry than just high-end, of course. What if you are in the market for a mechanical watch with an in-house movement, a lightweight and robust construction? What if you’re looking for your first mechanical watch, or looking to gift someone a fitting first foray into the world of mechanical watchmaking? Well, Citizen might have one of the most consistent answers to those questions, with the new Citizen Super Titanium Mechanical NH9120 collection.
Many watch enthusiasts and collectors work their way up the ladder, often getting acquainted with watches and bitten by the watch bug from a very early age. Others might have the good fortunes to have funds and access to highly desirable pieces from an exclusive mainstream, or perhaps even independent watchmaker. But today we’re looking at a different segment of the industry, but no less intriguing. Simply put, it just amazes us that Citizen is able to produce a good-looking, full titanium watch, with a proper mechanical in-house movement for less than EUR 350. Yes, you’ve read that correctly, less than EUR 350… That’s about the price of most “designers’ watches” you’ll find at a department store. But Citizen, of course, offers far, far more than that with the NH9120 collection.
Titanium has unique properties, perfectly suited for watchmaking, providing a comfortable, worry-free experience on the wrist. It is hypo-allergenic, corrosion-resistant and lightweight. The Japanese brand has a rich history with titanium in watchmaking as it was, after all, Citizen that commercially introduced the first titanium watch in 1970, the X8 Chronometer, which we explained in detail here. What followed were numerous watches featuring the innovative material over the years, and even today, it is an important part of the collection for Citizen. This extensive experience with titanium even led to the development of Duratect, a surface hardening technique to ramp up the scratch resistance.
Citizen wouldn’t be Citizen if it had several titanium watches in its collection today, which includes this Mechanical NH9120 trio. In fact, the collection uses Citizen’s proprietary Super Titanium™, which combines the brand’s titanium processing technology with the Duratect surface hardening process. Not only this material is even more scratch-resistant than regular titanium, but it also has a brighter, more silver-like shine to it, which feels different from the traditional mid-grey look of accessible watches made from grade 2 titanium. And in addition, Super Titanium™ can be polished, something impossible with grade 2 titanium.
Citizen’s Mechanical NH9120 collection comes in a 41mm wide and 11,4mm thick titanium case, a perfectly modest size fitting most masculine wrists – and certainly some young, active women wouldn’t say no either to this watch. The profile of the case is sharp and fresh, with a polished bezel and brushed caseband. A nice touch is the polished, facetted section on top of the lugs, increasing the dress-like look of the watch. On the right-hand side, you have a double-knurled crown with small crown guards protruding from the caseband. A nice design element that animates the case and give it some personality.
The dial for the NH9120 comes in three traditional but always pleasant colours; silver (NH9120-88A), dark blue (NH9120-88L) or black (NH9120-11E). These classical styles have been given a modern twist with an open-heart section with straight and curved lines. This cut-out reveals the balance wheel underneath, the beating heart of the movement. The blue and silver dials are finished with a sunburst brushing, with a solid black dial as an alternative. Each one has ample amounts of detail though. Polished applied hour markers are accompanied by a guilloché-like pattern and a raised minute track on the outer edge. The hour and minute hands are skeletonized, with a small contrasting tip (or black line in the silver model). The slender seconds hand matches the others on the blue and black dial, but has a full black tip on the silver dial to aid legibility. The dial of these NH9120 watches is impressively detailed and well finished, specifically when you consider the price… It wouldn’t look out of place in a much higher price range.
Inside ticks the automatic Calibre 8992. Citizen being a fully integrated manufacture, you get a proper in-house developed calibre. The NH9120 collection is however positioned as an entry-level watch and the movement reflects that a bit. While certainly a more than capable movement, it only has basic finishing. It runs at 21,600vph and has 21 jewels, and when fully wound has up to 40 hours of power reserve. So all in all nothing spectacular but something that gets the job done.
One of the elements of this watch that impressed me most is the titanium bracelet. While the black version comes on a black calfskin leather strap with a titanium pin-buckle, the bracelet takes the lead. The solid titanium links have a stepped profile, but the best detail is the polished edges in between the links to offset the bright sheen of the Super Titanium™. It elevates the watch into something that looks far more expensive than it actually is.
And that being said, with a price of EUR 329 for the black dial on leather and EUR 349 for the other two, Citizen proves that a great looking watch with proper capabilities does not have to cost an arm and a leg. A full titanium watch, with an in-house mechanical movement and a nice, contemporary design at this price is just hard to beat. In sheer value for money, it far exceeds other brands and it punches above its weight big time. It simply does not disappoint, so now it’s only down to personal preferences and your appreciation of the design.
For more information, please visit citizenwatch.eu.