What is the reputation of Citizen watches

What is Citizen?

Watches from Japan? You automatically think of quartz watches and radio-controlled watches from Seiko,Casio and Citizen. After all, it was the Japanese watchmakers' lead in the development of quartz drives that relentlessly relegated the Europeans, especially the Swiss, to the mass production of cheap watches in the 1970s and let the European watch industry with its mechanical wristwatches fall into a deep hole. But that's a thing of the past, and you don't do Seiko and Citizen justice by reducing them to quartz watches. In addition to quartz watches, both brands also manufacture radio-controlled clocks, clocks with GPS and analog clocks.

Japan has maintained its reputation as a technology innovator to this day, at least in the area of ​​wristwatches. And Citizen is not only one of the world's largest watch manufacturers, but is still a great pioneer when it comes to new drive concepts. In particular with their energy system called Eco-Drive makes Citizen a talking point. Light, regardless of whether it is sunshine or an artificial source, is converted into energy to drive the wristwatch and stored in a rechargeable micro-cell. With the help of the Eco-Drive technology, batteries can be completely dispensed with.

Citizen: Eco-Drive and other innovative drives secure the pioneering role

Citizen has been on everyone's lips again since 2014. Citizen launched an advertising and image campaign that caused quite a stir. "We noticed that Citizen was perceived differently depending on the country, we wanted to change that," explains Hiroyuki Ota, the deputy managing director of the German branch in Hamburg. The traditional Japanese company selected the internationally renowned agency Wieden & Kennedy to work on a globally uniform image for Citizen. Such an elaborate campaign is new for the watch industry: Mostly you limit yourself to advertisements and testimonial appearances, so you let famous actors or athletes appear at the presentation of a new model. And with Swiss brands in particular, the tradition of watchmaking is usually in the foreground. Citizen pursues other goals: The brand solicits sympathy. What others like Nike or Coca Cola, also customers of Wieden & Kennedy, succeed in should also work for Citizen, according to the calculation. “The agency had many conversations with our employees and filtered out the new brand message from their statements,” says Ota, describing the development process of the new claim “Better starts now”.

This refers to the long company history - Citizen was founded in 1930 - during which the company regularly brought technical innovations to the market, explains Ota. Good is never good enough, the quintessence can perhaps be expressed in German. The subtext is clear: What was yesterday makes us proud, but is not enough for us. We're still trying to do better. An important part of the image campaign is an advertising film that was produced with great effort. It shows watchmakers from different eras in Citizen's history at work. That alone is a nice idea, so watch fans can also see how the watchmaker's tools have changed over time - in the last scene only computers can be seen on the watchmaker's table. Citizen gives each technological milestone its own little film sequence.

For example, a watchmaker throws a wristwatch in the air and drops it on the workbench - a symbol for the shock-proof case of the men's watch Parashock 1956. In another sequence, a wristwatch is immersed in an aquarium - and, of course, refers to Parawater, Japan's first diving watch from 1959. The highlight of the film: Each sequence looks as if it was filmed with the camera technology of the respective era - probably Elaborately reproduced with digital technology. It's a film that is meant to appeal to everyone.

Citizen's story in the official video:

Citizen means: watches for everyone

Citizen already has its most important target group in its name: Kamekichi Yamazaki wanted to manufacture watches that every Japanese citizen could afford when he founded the company in Tokyo in 1930. He has been producing pocket watches since 1918, which the Emperor of Japan also likes to wear. Emperor Yoshihito is said to have shown his Citizen pocket watch to a visitor who praised him for the advantages of expensive foreign watches and said that this Japanese watch for 12.50 yen would suit him very well. While the industry in Germany was still working on producing quartz watches at an affordable price - the first models were worth 1,600 marks in 1971 - the two large watch manufacturers Seiko and Citizen set out in Japan to conquer the world market with inexpensive quartz watches. Seiko was initially ahead of the game with the “Astron”, which was launched in 1969, but Citizen took off with it Crystron 1973 and was able to work with the Liquid crystal introduce the first quartz watch with a digital liquid crystal display.

At that time, the Citizen also set up a watch factory in Germany. Citizen has been represented on the local market for over 40 years, always based in Hamburg. At the height of the oil crisis, Citizen made a name for itself again in 1976 when the Crystron Solar Cell the world's first analog watch with a solar cell battery was presented. Today Citizen presents with the Chronomaster the quartz watch for end users, which has the lowest rate deviation of plus / minus five seconds per year. “To get a second out of here required enormous efforts in our development and shows how seriously we take our motto‘ Better starts now ’,” explains Ota. The watch is only available in Japan.

Citizen is continuously developing solar technology and equipping most of its watches with the Drive system Eco-Drive out. With the Eco-Drive technology, sunlight or artificial light penetrates the dial and is captured by the solar cell below and converted into energy. The whole manufacturing process is free of harmful metals and if you add the saved disposable batteries of conventional quartz watches, the brand makes a considerable contribution to environmental protection, according to Citizen.

1985 came with the Promaster Aqualand the first diving watch with an electronic depth gauge, also an important milestone in the history of Citizen. The diving watch sector still plays a major role at Citizen today. The Promaster collection is aimed primarily at men and is known to practically every diver with its Aqualand diving watches and their highly recognizable packaging - in the form of yellow compressed air cylinders. An anecdote about the robustness of Citizen diver's watches that is still popular today is the 1977 automatic diver's watch found in Long Reef Beach, Australia. The watch must have been in the water for a long time because it was with it covered in a thick crust of barnacles, but it was ticking!

Extremely robust: Citizen diving watches

With the Citizen Promaster 1000m, which should also meet all the requirements of a professional diver, Citizen 2002 set a new milestone in this segment, which the competitors had difficult to nibble on. The case is made entirely of titanium to this day, which, in addition to an extra thick sapphire crystal and a number of included accessories, also explains the rather high price of about 1,300 euros for Citizen.

It is not known exactly how many Citizen watches are sold each year, but insiders estimate production at around 200 million. Citizen manufactures almost all parts itself and has factories in Japan, China and Thailand. In addition, the Citizen Group supplies with its movement manufacturer Miyota numerous other watch companies. The Group's business areas also include electronic components and products, as well as industrial machinery.

If you consider the annual turnover of almost three billion dollars, it becomes clear that the role of Citizen in Europe is often underestimated. This may be due, among other things, to the company's rather reserved demeanor. Flashy trade fair appearances or spectacular advertising campaigns are not Citizen's style. The image campaign, which is more of a good-mood character and does not contain any allusions to size or market position, does not change anything. In view of the number of units - Citizen has been claiming the title of the world's largest watch manufacturer since 1986 - the company's strong commitment to environmentally friendly production processes is not a drop in the ocean. Driving sustainability forward is one of the central tasks that Citizen intends to face even more in the future. Unlike most other watch manufacturers, for Citizen the idea of ​​perfection is not the only driving force behind the manufacture of watches. Instead, the most important word for the Japanese watch giant is progress. Because making clocks better is an endless process, and it is best to start immediately: “Better starts now”.

Text: Katrin Nikolaus

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