By KUPLUTHAI PUNGKANON
JAPANESE timepiece brand Citizen turns 100 this year and to mark this momentous anniversary, it recently showcased some of its rarest museum pieces such as the first pocket watch made in 1924, which was purchased by the Emperor Showa, and launched three new high-tech pieces in a special event at the Emporium’s Gallery.
Japan’s ambassador to Thailand, Hiroshi Kawamura, and the brand’s managing director from Hong Kong, Koichiro Kudo, were on hand to open the event, and received a warm welcome from Wipawan Mahadamrongkul of C Thong Panich, Citizen’s sole distributor in Thailand.
The idea for a Japan-made watch was sparked in the early 1900s when Kamekichi Yamazaki, a dealer in watch metals who learned his craft in Switzerland and the US, returned home determined to create a Japanese-made pocket watch.
In 1918, he established Shokosha Watch Research Institute, which would later become Citizen Watch, and the Japanese timepiece industry was born. In 1924, the watchmaker completed the first pocket watch bearing the name Citizen. Features such as a proprietary screw design were part of the plans to establish the company’s independence as a domestic watch manufacturer.
More than 20 priceless museum timepieces have been brought to Thailand for the show. They include the Citizen Crystron Mega (1975), the first watch in the world accurate to +/- 3 seconds per year and a 2018 pocket watch featuring the Calibre 0100 interior mechanism that is light-powered, giving the greatest precision in the world. Also on show is the thinnest watch ever, the 1962 Citizen Diamond Flake edition, and the technological innovation, 1986’s Citizen Parashock edition, the first Japanese watch to be collision-proof and which was famously launched by dropping the watch from a helicopter onto a baseball field.
C Thong Panich has also brought together a parade of Citizen timepieces popular amongst Thai fans, including the Bullhead or what Thais use to refer to as the “Red Ant”, “White Shark” and “Classic Lion” editions.
“The 1970s were an important era characterised by the transition from mechanical to quartz movements,” Kudo says.
“In 1976, the Citizen Crystron Solar Cell was developed and become the world's first analog quartz watch with rechargeable solar batteries. These sustainable Eco-Drive watch models became the company’s future direction.”
As part of its centennial celebrations, Citizen is launching three limited-edition models equipped with the watchmaker’s latest state-of-art technologies and designed on the theme “the moment when light is transformed into time”.
The Citizen Promaster Driver 200m boasts brilliant white Roman numerals against key colours of black and gold. A magnificently designed diver’s watch, it offers functionality, durability, and safety.
It is able to withstand a dive of 200 meters, has a stopwatch mode and increased safety features with a unidirectional bezel that allows the watch to only rotate counter-clockwise and a screw-locking mechanism for its winders and push buttons.
The limited edition Citizen Promaster Dark Raider aka Black Ant is a bold and unconventional watch with the crown and push buttons at 12 o’clock. The original chronograph watch was better known to Thais as the Red Ant and the new edition brings back memories thanks to a vintage look and feel but with a finer finish of the black body and band.
The design of the Citizen Satellite Wave GPS F990 evokes the unfathomable mysteries of space. A light-powered watch that can receive satellite waves and GPS signals to automatically set the time, it has a super titanium case treated with Duratech DLC, Citizen’s surface hardening technology that is scratch resistant. Just 1,500 pieces are coming to the market.
All three models will be available at the end of the month and M Card members as well as SCB M Visa credit card holders can enjoy a range of special promotions.