Japan’s Citizen Watch Co. will mark 100 years of operation in 2018, and to commemorate the occasion the brand is releasing a unique, vintage-inspired bullhead chronograph, the Tsuno Chronograph Racer, at this week’s Baselworld watch fair. The new watch takes its design influences from a 1972 chronograph known as the Challenge Timer, and especially from its successor in the 1973 Tsuno Chrono (“horned chronograph” in Japanese) for which the modern piece is named.
The new watch comes in four color variations, two of which have a black bezel with an orange or white dial, and the other two using steel bezels with blue or white dials. The piece has a round, 45-mm case in a bull-head construction, with a crown and two chronograph pushers at its top; lugs integrating seamlessly into its bracelet; and a second crown at the 5 o’clock position to adjust the watch’s alarm function. Depending on the color of the dial, each will come equipped on a different-style strap, ranging from an Oyster-style steel bracelet, orange and black leather racing strap, red and black alligator construction, or simple brown leather.
On the dial is an inclined tachymetric scale, applied rectangular hour markers, and four black subdials for 1/5th seconds counter, 12-hour counter, power-reserve indicator, and running seconds indicator at the 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock positions, respectively. At the 1:30 position is a small date window, while at the 4:30 position is an on/off indicator for the alarm function, which has an adjustable arrow-type hand rotating around the face. The luminescent-filled hour and minute hands are sword-shaped, while the chronograph seconds counter has a slim, color-tipped design. The various complications are made possible by a currently unspecified Citizen Eco-Drive movement, which is distinguished by its ability to harness natural or artificial light energy to power the watch.
The new watch takes many of its design cues from its vintage predecessors, most noticeably in the bullhead construction, with its distinctive (though not hooded) lugs, the use of the “panda” color scheme (white dial with black subdials), and with a few other dial features, like the inclined tachymeter and sword hands. Appropriately to the aim of the new watch, the case is of a rounded construction like the 1972 and 1973 pieces that inspired it (picture below via Worn & Wound), although it was in fact the octagonal case construction released a little while later that draws most of the attention in vintage markets. However, the choice for the 1973 inspiration instead of the later design could be purposeful by the brand to position for another release in the future.
Of the four watches, two of the variants will be limited to 1,973 copies, while the other two will be produced on a continuing basis. The prices will range from $795 to $895, with the watches reaching boutiques later this year.