Citizen Watch Co. was founded in 1930 and is one of the largest vertically integrated watchmakers in the world. Its origins go back to 1918 and the Shokosha Watch Research Institute, which produced a pocket watch that was christened "CITIZEN" in 1924 by the mayor of Tokyo, Count Gotō Shinpei. The idea was that watches could be “loved by the citizens for a long time.” Citizen is headquartered in Nishitōkyō, Tokyo, Japan, and is known for affordable quartz watches with a seemingly endless variety of models. The brand is much more than a staple at mall kiosks and department stores, however, as it's a major innovator with many industry firsts. Although Switzerland is considered the capital of watchmaking, Japan has arguably been the most influential and disruptive in the 20th century.
Citizen established Miyota in 1959 and it was the largest movement manufacturer by 1986, producing over 3.5 billion 2035 quartz movements alone by 2005. In fact, the company is able to mass produce movements every second. Things aren’t always so fast paced, however, as Miyota is also incredibly innovative. In 2010, the UHF 262 kHz quartz movement debuted with an ultra-high frequency of 262,144Hz, resulting in an incredible accuracy rating of +/- 10 seconds per year (the average quartz movement is accurate to about 3 minutes per year). Citizen’s Eco-Drive Caliber 0100 quartz is now accurate to an unprecedented +/- 1 second per year and is the most accurate movement in the world. Technically, it’s not the company’s most accurate watch as the Skyhawk A-T series launched in 2003 and was the first to synchronized with atomic clocks via radio. We’re talking about 1 second per 100,000 years (measured in millions of years today).
Citizen’s most well known achievement is the renowned Eco-Drive, which is among the most efficient light-powered watch technologies in the world. The CRYSTRON SOLAR CELL from 1976 was its first light-powered watch and the first commercially available solar-powered analogue quartz watch. Its power reserve and ability to adequately charge indoors fell a bit short of expectations, but the tech demonstrated a promising future. Things improved rapidly in the 1980’s and in 1995, Eco-Drive debuted with a lithium-ion battery and the perfected technology now drives a large percentage of the brand’s portfolio. Eco-Drive removes the need for replacement batteries and in 2007, Citizen estimated that it prevented the disposal of 10 million watch batteries in North America alone.
Although watches like the unprecedentedly thin Eco-Drive One and accurate Eco-Drive Caliber 0100 can be considered high-end or “luxury” pieces, Citizen is no stranger to refined mechanical watches. In fact, it even dipped its toes into true Haute Horlogerie in 2017 with the Tourbillon Y01, a very limited edition tourbillon to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Japanese department store chain, Daimaru. Its latest Calibre 0200 chronometer is now debuting in the new “The Citizen” luxury sports watch. The brand worked with recently acquired Swiss movement manufacturer La Joux-Perret to produce a refined automatic calibre that suddenly rivals the likes of Grand Seiko.
For almost a century, Citizen has demonstrated a versatility to mass produce quality watches that are “loved by the citizens for a long time,” invent some of the most innovative horological technology in the world and then move into the luxury mechanical space to round things out. Its acquired major brands along the way, including Bulova, Frédérique Constant, Arnold & Son, Alpina and La Joux-Perret, and is a true horological juggernaut. The automatic Calibre 0200 demonstrates a new direction for the brand, showing a commitment to very accurate, high-end mechanical movements alongside the always reliable yet mass produced Miyota offerings. Few brands have such a complete portfolio and illustrious history as Citizen.