The debate surrounding travel watches, particularly GMTs, is always about whether we’re dealing with an office GMT or a flyer GMT. Although there’s a practical sense in both, the flyer GMT reigns supreme for its ability to quickly adjust the central hour hand on your watch to whatever time zone you’re in at that specific moment. An office GMT lets you adjust the GMT hand instead. This might seem futile, but a true GMT makes much more sense because we’re accustomed to reading time at a glance, and that’s best done with its main three hands (hours, minutes, seconds). So, would you want your watch to intuitively indicate the time where you are or the time from back home? This distinction between the two types of watches usually means a big price difference, as true GMT watches generally cost quite a bit more than office GMTs. Citizen bridges that gap with its Series 8 880 Mechanical GMT which comes in with an original and robust design and a very fair price.
The design for the stainless steel case is quite original and looks and feels very robust. The caseband has a modern profile to it, with multiple angles and alternating brushed and polished sections throughout. Size-wise, we’re looking at a watch that is 41.0mm in diameter and about 13.4mm in height. The lug-to-lug distance is 47.0mm, but in reality, the fixed central ‘link’ that connects the case to the bracelet stretches that to 53.3mm.
During daily wear, though, that never felt like an issue to me, thanks to the angle at which the lug sections come off the case. The bidirectional bezel on top has tons of grip thanks to the serrated outer edge and takes four clicks to be adjusted one hour in either direction. It is fitted with a blue and black insert that has a 24-hour scale in white, letting you track a third time zone if needed. The top crystal is sapphire and has an anti-reflective coating, and there’s a transparent caseback as well. Despite the pull-out crown, the water-resistance rating is 100m. More than enough for an adventurous, international lifestyle.
The dial for this specific reference, NB6031-56E to be precise, comes in deep black and is finished with a pattern inspired by the Tokyo skyline and the windows of its skyscrapers. It looks nicely done and creates a play of light and shadows as you move about during the day. The applied indices and hands are polished and fitted with luminous inserts. The central GMT hand has a red triangular tip and a blue stem. The date window, which is positioned at 3′, has a polished frame to set it off a bit. Alternatively, there’s also a blue dial version, reference NB6030-59L, which has a blue and red bezel insert. If you’re looking to spice things up even more, you should have a look at the limited-edition NB6032-53P, which has a two-tone yellow and rose gold coloured case and bracelet and a completely different dial pattern.
Visible through the transparent caseback is Citizen’s in-house produced calibre 9054. This automatic movement, which can also be wound by hand through the crown if desired, is a true GMT movement. This means that you can adjust the local hour hand in one-hour increments. Simply set your home time before you leave, and when you enter a different time zone, pull out the crown to its first position and set the hour hand to the correct position. As you set it forward or backwards, the date switches accordingly in both directions. Doing this doesn’t stop the seconds hand as the movement will just keep running.
Speaking of which, the movement runs at a rate of 28,800vph, uses 24 jewels and has a power reserve of about 50 hours. The finishing is very basic and industrial, although it does have a touch of Côtes de Genève on the rotor and mainplate. It’s regulated to run within a deviation of -10 / +20 seconds per day, which doesn’t sound too exciting, but on average, it will perform well within that frame.
The Citizen Series 8 880 Mechanical GMT is a very well-equipped and robust travel watch. It might be a tad too bulky for some, but it never felt out of balance on my 18.5cm wrist. Thanks to the short and angled lugs, it sits snug and secure. It comes on a solid three-link stainless steel bracelet with a neatly integrated folding clasp. Whereas other brands often use a clasp that adds significant heft and height to a bracelet, this one is much more discreet. It flows with the bracelet’s profile and is easily opened and closed. The inner links are slightly thicker and have a polished edge to them, providing a touch of character.
Considering all this and the fact that it’s a True GMT watch, the price of EUR 1,195, including taxes, is very reasonable. Do keep in mind that the two-tone yellow and rose gold edition is limited to 1,300 pieces and retails for EUR 1,295. The watch is very nicely finished and delivers on all fronts. The design of the case is quite original, even though the two-tone bezel insert is reminiscent of a certain Swiss brand with a crown logo. Nevertheless, that should not deter you one bit, as the Series 8 880 Mechanical GMT is a rock-solid, sensible watch for those who frequently travel across multiple time zones. Or for those who just like its looks, plain and simple.