After several years of launching new products built almost entirely on its signature Eco-Drive and Satellite Wave technologies — as well as mining its high-profile, pop-culture partnerships such as Disney properties Marvel and Star Wars — probably the last thing anyone expected from Japan’s Citizen Watch Co. this year was a new mechanical caliber. But that’s exactly what the brand has unveiled this week, and not just a mechanical movement but one that unites the vision of the braintrust at Citizen Watch Group and the Swiss horological expertise at movement-maker La Joux-Perret, a subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate since 2012.
The new movement, Caliber 0200, is Citizen’s first new, in-house mechanical caliber since 2010, created to be “an innovative fusion of Japanese and Swiss watchmaking cultures.” All design and assembly, the company says, takes place in Japan, and it also incorporates the high-horology finishing techniques for which La Joux-Perret, a supplier to many Swiss luxury watchmakers outside the Citizen Group, is renowned.
Citizen also says that Caliber 0200 is intended to carry on the company’s long tradition of highly accurate watches — which began in 1918 with the Caliber 16 pocketwatch developed by its predecessor, the Shokosha Watch Research Institute, and has continued all the way to the introduction of modern innovations like Eco-Drive and multi-band atomic timekeeping. The new movement was designed to exceed international chronometer standards for accuracy, achieving an average daily accuracy of -3 to +5 seconds. It’s equipped with a free-sprung balance wheel, a mainstay of highly accurate mechanical watches, which maintains rate stability over time and offers a high level of shock protection and resistance to long-term wear. The layered design for the wheels showcases many of the components, which are finished to haute horlogerie standards.
Using the knowledge and expertise it has gleaned from decades of experience making Eco-Drive calibers, Citizen developed a completely new manufacturing process for Caliber 0200’s balance wheel to ensure its precision during processing. It used a LIGA fabrication process, which combines photolithography and electrocasting, for the ultra-precise escapement parts to achieve superior precision. After the movement is installed in a watch case, the completed ensemble undergoes rigorous in-house testing — in six positions at three different temperature levels over a total of 17 days — to ensure superior performance.
The La Joux-Perret influence is most evident on the decorative finishing of all the gear train components, including the rotor, the mainplate, and the bridges. The bridges have a lustrous, satinage finish comprised of a multitude of hairlines, as well as finely diamond-cut finished edges that provide depth and visual appeal. On the technical side, the self-winding movement offers 26 jewels, a frequency of 28,800 vph and a power reserve of 60 hours.
The movement makes its debut inside a new watch that Citizen has simply dubbed the “Mechanical model” (or Ref. NC0200-90E). Its 40-mm, lugless, stainless-steel case has an array of hairline and mirror finishes whose contrast catches the light enticingly. Its black dial boasts a distinctive sand-ripple texture, which creates subtle color variations and shadows, achieved through electroforming. The only complication on the austere dial is a small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock. Positioned beneath the logo at 12 o’clock is Citizen’s “Eagle Mark,” which the brand describes as “a symbol of foresight and action based on a clear vision of the future,” and representative of “the two enduring commitments of Citizen watches: to always look ahead and pursue the ideal, and to become an integral part of users’ lives.”
The 50-meter water-resistant case integrates into a stainless-steel link bracelet with a complimentary combination of finishes. The first Citizen watches outfitted with Caliber 0200, the company projects, will be available at retail in Autumn 2021, carrying a U.S. price of $6,000.