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Does Citizen Make Automatic Watches?

Posted on October 03 2020

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It is a good question to ask. Does the brand known for solar-powered Eco-Drive and atomic time watches still produce mechanical timepieces? Remember Citizen claims to have the worlds most accurate Quartz watch, and by owning Bulova, also produces the Accutron movement.

The answer is yes. Citizen does have a collection of automatic watches - all powered by their own in-house Miyota movements.

The History of Citizen Watches


Although originally created in Switzerland in 1930, the aim of Citizen from its inception was to sell watches to the Japanese market. After an initial transfer of technology from Switzerland, the company then took over existing watchmaking facilities in Japan.

The company has been at the forefront of technological advancement in watchmaking. Specifically, the transition from mechanical to battery-powered quartz movements. From there Citizen has created a number of innovative watches, with the Eco-Drive collection now being central to their brand.


Citizen Eco-Drive Watches


The concept of Eco-Drive watches is simple. The watch movements are designed to convert both natural and artificial light into energy to power the watch. Initially developed in the 1970s, this technology has allowed Citizen to produce watches that never need a battery change. This environmentally friendly technology has proven popular and has won the brand environmental protection awards.

Understandably, Eco-drive models now dominate Citizen’s product range.


Mechanical Miyota movements

By owning Miyota, Citizen has a hand in one of the biggest movement production factories in the world. By 1999 the Calibre 2035 quartz movement had achieved an accumulated production of 1.7 billion units.

My preference is for mechanical movements and Miyota make the 9000 and 8200 series. They’re used in a Citizen’s own small mechanical collection and by a myriad of other brands, including many microbrands.

So Citizen is a pioneer when it comes to watch movement development. They also remain a large producer of mechanical movements, supplying other brands that don’t have the ability to manufacturer their own.
So, I’m going to ignore all the innovation - the solar-power, the atomic time, the Accutron - and I’m going to suggest what I think are the best traditional mechanical watches that the brand has to offer.


Citizen NY0071-81E Automatic Watch



Citizen describe the Promaster collection as a series of professional tool watches. As such, the range includes watches for a use on land, in the air and in the sea. They come in a variety of styles, with different features and movements.

The automatics are concentrated among the divers watches and this model is a nice example. It’s a fairly standard diver that comes in a few colour combinations. This green dial version is particularly appealing.

Some of the Promaster series can be quite busy, but this has a practical and legible dial with simple indices. The 43mm case is titanium (more on titanium watches here), and it houses an in-house Miyota movement.

It’s a proven style - capable of decent submersion, but equally at home in the office. It’s a great entry-level diver watch in the mould and price-range of Seiko’s SKX007 and others.

Citizen Promaster Marine Diver NY0071-81E

  • 43mm Diameter
  • 14mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Titanium
  • Japanese Automatic movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance



Citizen NH8370-86L Automatic Watch


I've seen this watch for sale for as little as £100.

It is powered by Miyota’s reliable calibre 8200. So that is less than £100 for a watch with an in-house movement, full stainless steel construction and bracelet. Add to that the mineral crystal and 50m water resistance and you’re getting real value for money.

The fact that the watch is aesthetically pleasing, with it’s deep blue dial is a bonus. There’s a touch of an aviators style to the design, reinforced by the hands - particularly the red arrow tip to the second hand. At 43mm wide and 12mm thick, it’s a fairly average sized watch that should suit most wrists.

If you want an automatic watch, with a good quality movement, this is definitely worth a closer look.

Citizen NH8370-86L

  • 43mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese 8200 Automatic movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance


Citizen NJ2180-89L Automatic Watch


As noted in my recent post about titanium watches - titanium is significantly lighter than steel and is also non-toxic. That means this dress watch is very light, despite the use of a mechanical movement, and ideal if you have any reactions to leather or steel. The case itself is a mixture of polished and brushed finishes and has an exhibition back, showing the gold coloured Miyota 8210 movement.

It’s a classically styled dress watch, with simple hands and markers and a dark blue textured dial. The overall style is very reminiscent of an Omega Aqua Terra. It has an understated design that has been so successful with other dress watches.

The quality is as expected. There are solid end links on the titanium bracelet and a sapphire crystal.

Citizen NJ2180-89L

  • 40mm Diameter
  • Titanium Case 
  • Japanese 8210 Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance


Citizen NH-8388-81E Automatic Watch


When I think of current Citizen watches, this is the picture I have in my head. A tough looking sports watch. Big, chunky and with an off-centre crown. It’s a look that the brand does well.

This is a very affordable diver, again with decent specs.

It’s the largest of the watches that I’ve highlighted so far, with a 46mm diameter and a 24mm bracelet. The styling suggests a professional divers watch, with the knurled bezel - for ease of use underwater - and the large, highly legible hands. It gives the impression of a watch that has been built to perform in very specific environments.

Citizen Marine Sports NH8388-81E

  • 46mm Diameter
  • 13mm Thick
  • 24mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Miyota 8200 Automatic movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance


Citizen Urban NJ0100-89A Automatic Watch


In a post about Timex watches I included the Milano XL on my list of favourites (more here). Inspired by the cushion case watches of the 1970s, it’s a stylish retro watch. The Citizen Urban very much competes for the same customer - with the upgrade to an automatic movement over the Timex’s quartz.

The Citizen is the larger of the two, with the addition of a 22mm bracelet. Where the Timex used plain indices and hands, the Urban has opted for numerals and slightly sporty hands. There’s also a chapter ring not included on its competitor.

Of the two I’ve a slightly preference for the Citizen. It takes the 1970s styling and where the Timex faithfully recreates the era, the Urban updates it. The inclusion of the Miyota movement is also a massive draw for me.

The contrast between this and the previous diver is obvious and demonstrates that the brand offers quite a variety of mechanical watches, despite the relatively small number of models.

Citizen Urban NJ0100-89A

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance


Citizen NJ0110-18A Automatic Watch


The Jaeger Lecoultre Master Control is a grail watch for me. A watch I aspire to own, but a little out of reach at the moment. Instead I have Seagull’s homage, the M177S. Another affordable alternative would be this Citizen.

It’s not a direct homage to the JLC, although it clearly takes some strong design cues. The case, at 40mm, and the general feel of the watch is similar. It’s clean, uncluttered and simple - without being minimalist. Where the JLC has a blue second hand, Citizen have went with blue for each of the hands.

The markers are alike, with Citizen aiming for more symmetry on the dial with the exclusion of the number 9 numeral. It’s a really attractive watch that, like the earlier dress watch, has a well established, class design. Also like the earlier model, it has an exhibition back that displays the gold pvd movement.

It’s quite a contrast to the final watch I’d like to showcase.

Citizen NJ0110-18A

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 11.2mm Thick
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese 8210 Automatic movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance


Citizen Promaster Automatic Watch NY0100-50ME


Arguably, this is what Citizen do best. Or at least, this is the type of watch that has kept my interest in the brand.

A well designed and affordable, legitimate divers watch with an automatic movement. The watch ticks a lot of boxes.

Although it is a substantial watch, it’s not over-sized like a lot of divers. I wouldn’t describe it as a desk diver either. The 42mm case is relatively modest and the titanium case keeps the weight down. But the design is too sporty to really work in a formal setting.

The lefty crown position is a great little quirk, but does mean that the watch has a bit of unconventional design. Great for sport, but maybe not so much with a suit.
Lets stick to why I’ve chosen to highlight this model. What a design it is. Bold, colourful, and with all the hall marks of a functional tool watch.

It’s a high-spec watch, for what is price-wise, an entry-level divers watch. It has the titanium construction, a Miyota mechanical movement and 200M water resistance. Like each of the watches on the list, this represents good value for money. It’s a great example to use to summarize the brand.

Citizen Promaster NY0100-50ME

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 13.5mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Titanium
  • Japanese 8203 Automatic movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance




Citizen does have a collection of automatic watches - all powered by their own in-house Miyota movements. The brand is currently best known for its solar-powered models and its other non-mechanical watches - the Accutron and Atomic time collections spring to mind.

But Citizen are one of a small number of companies that do own their own watch movement factories and they are a big producer of automatic movements. Its natural that they would use these in their own range.

As we’ve seen, although their mechanical watches are small in number, they punch above their weight in terms of quality and value for money.

Add your own thoughts in the comments below.

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