Citizen’s The Citizen Is Finally Here — Powered By The New Especially Developed Caliber 0200 By La Joux-Perret
In the ever-flowing stream of watch releases, you sometimes forget about a watch that might have caught your eye at its introduction. That’s certainly not the case with the new Citizen Caliber 0200. Back in March, when “The Citizen” was announced, there was quite a buzz surrounding the brand’s new high-end mechanical offering. In the five months that passed, the watch was always in the back of my mind as an upcoming release that I really wanted to check out as soon as I had the chance. Finally, that chance is here — time to find out whether Citizen can shake things up with their new high-end offering.
Whenever brands are having a go at releasing a modern luxury steel sports watch, I am all ears. It is one of the toughest nuts to crack when it comes to design. But in all honesty, that was not what created the biggest buzz after the Citizen Caliber 0200 was announced. It was not at all what it was about. The simple fact that Citizen announced a high-end mechanical watch was good enough to get people talking. Could this be a glorious next step for Citizen? Combining a well-designed luxury sports watch with a specially developed movement by La Joux-Perret does sound really tempting. Could this be a glorious return to mechanical watchmaking glory?
Two big questions
The moment the Citizen Caliber 0200 was announced in March of this year, many of our readers were immediately questioning the price tag. To best answer this question we must first ask two more questions. First, the overall question is whether Citizen has the brand power to ask $6,000 for a watch? It’s not a price bracket that we’re used to seeing Citizen watches in. And honestly, it is probably the biggest challenge to overcome in making this watch a success. With a $6K price tag, Citizen is entering a very competitive price segment where it has to go up against some renowned luxury brands.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, and first, answer the second question: has Citizen has come up with a great watch? When the watch was introduced, it sounded very promising. Seeing the first images and reading the specs got me properly interested and even a bit excited. Come to think of it, the excitement is probably linked to the question of whether Citizen has pulled off something extraordinary. Secretly I hoped Citizen would succeed in creating something special. Not just from a product point of view, as if the product is indeed superior, it would be just a question of brand perception whether you are willing to spend its asking price.
The full package
As Mike already explained in his introduction article, Citizen has the chops to pull off something special. There is plenty of watchmaking history to link back to build a story and develop a compelling design. Secondly, the in-house technical knowledge within the Citizen Group is tremendous with Miyota, Bulova, Alpina, Frederique Constant, Arnold & Son, and Haute Horlogerie movement maker La Joux-Perret. It’s La Joux-Perret that Citizen turned to develop this new in-house Caliber 0200.
Most of you will know that back in 2018, Citizen released the Caliber 0100 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the brand. This movement, based on the brand’s Eco Drive technology, was first presented in a classic pocket watch. But Citizen also introduced a limited series of the Caliber 0100 wristwatch in white gold and titanium with the same movement. The specially developed Caliber 0100 had an accuracy of ±1 second per year and showed the incredible accuracy and watch-making skills of the brand. Being second in line after that impressive tour de force does come with expectations for the Caliber 0200. Both the Caliber 0100 and 0200 share the name of “The Citizen”, a rather bold and remarkable choice.
A case full of details
But let’s take you through the story by starting with its design. The Caliber 0200 is a very well-designed luxury sports watch that clearly takes influences from the glorious designs of the 1970s. The first thing that stands out is the beautiful 40mm tonneau-shaped case with its round-shaped and slightly raised bezel. It might look simple at first, but the overall curvy shape is beautifully contrasted by straight lines and sharp edges. It’s the kind of case you really need to study up close to appreciate it. You can see there is a lot of detail that went into creating this case. At 40mm in diameter and 10.9mm in height, it’s the perfect size for a variety of different wrist sizes.
Overall, the case and the bracelet feature a deep vertically brushed finish that looks beautifully detailed. But what I love is that there are plenty of small polished surfaces that bring a bit of magic. If you have the watch on your wrist and move it around, the light will bounce off the polished surfaces, and that’s when you find out how detailed and cleverly finished this watch truly is. It’s a symphony of light created by the hour markers, chamfered edges of the case, and the flat parts of the bracelet. This really brings the watch to life on the wrist.
The remarkable dial design
The second thing we have to talk about is the dial, of course. The black dial with its wonderful grained pattern is what immediately catches your eye. Citizen calls this a rippled sand pattern. In reality, it reminds me more of asphalt. Regardless of the name, it’s an interesting texture that definitely adds a lot of detail to the dial. Citizen uses a process called electroforming to create this effect. It uses electrodeposition of metal on a base dial. Personally, I love the texture because it constantly balances between refined and a rough texture depending on the light conditions.
The texture is contrasted by the small seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock which has an overall glossy appearance and an excellent circular finish. But more elements spice up the dial. The reflective Citizen logo has a funky ’70s appearance because it changes color all the time as you move your wrist. Additionally, there is the Citizen eagle that, as Mike explained, also appeared on the brand’s best watches in the 1960s. Such as Mike’s own Chrono Master. Despite its historical reference, I am not a fan of the eagle. The design looks like a multilegged monster that breaks with the other elements in style. Those elements are more minimalist in aesthetic and therefore have room to shine.
Execution is spot-on
The Caliber 0200 has beautifully designed dauphine hands that hover above the brilliant faceted hour markers. Together with the case, the hands and markers give the watch the overall 1970s vibe. The finish of both the hands and the markers is exquisite. The large dauphine hands are razor sharp and have polished edges and an incredibly fine matte finish on the top. The faceted hour markers have a polished finish and feature a striped pattern on top. The level of detail is absolutely wonderful and easily a couple of steps up from anything the brand currently offers.
It’s very easy to read the time because of the style and impeccable finish of both the hands and indices. Even in darker light conditions, you are still able to able to read the time perfectly. Obviously, with no lume present, when it’s pitch black, you won’t. I have to say that the markers play a delightful role in that shimmering symphony of light I mentioned earlier. No matter from what angle you look at the dial, one or a few markers will light up as proof of the brilliant finishing.
Citizen Caliber 0200
Inside the case is obviously the movement that enthusiasts have been waiting for. The all-new Caliber 0200 was developed by Swiss high-end movement maker La Joux-Perret S.A. The company has been part of the Citizen Group since 2012 and, therefore, was a great choice as a partner for developing this new movement. The goals for the new automatic movement were reliability and a high level of accuracy. Additionally, the movement also needed to look the part, so the decoration was also an important factor. While La Joux-Perret developed the movement and provided the Haute Horlogerie knowledge to create it, the movements themselves are produced in Japan. It’s the result of close collaboration and exchanging technical knowledge to produce the movements in Citizen’s home country.
The Caliber 0200 is visible through the display case back and what immediately stands out is that it most certainly looks the part. The movement is a joy to watch in action. The automatic movement operates at 28,800vph, has 26 jewels and 60 hours of power reserve. The movement comes with a free-sprung balance to increase shock protection and resist wear in the long term. In terms of performance, the movement has an accuracy of -3/+5 seconds per day and therefore exceeds the COSC standards. On top of that, Citizen performs 17 days of rigorous testing after the watch is assembled. It is tested in six positions and three different temperatures to ensure that the performance meets the intended standards. After a movement has passed the tests, the watch is delivered with a Certificate of Compliance to certify its performance.
Visually the movent is also quite impressive. The bridges are satin-brushed and feature polished bevels for contrast. Other parts of the movement also feature a mix of finishes. The base plate features a perlage finish and the rotor a mix of circular graining, satin-brushed and polished elements. Overall the level of finishing is detailed and executed very nicely. It makes taking the watch off your wrist to look at the movement irresistible. I was especially fascinated by the incredibly smooth and silent movement of the rotor. Overall La Joux-Perret and Citizen have collaborated on a movement that is both technically impressive and visually stunning. It definitely is on par with the best in class within the budget.
Wearing the Citizen Caliber 0200
The Citizen Caliber 0200 is incredibly easy to wear. The biggest factors are its perfect 40mm size and the newly developed integrated bracelet. It’s a clever design that features H-shaped links with a brushed finish except for the chamfered ends that are polished. Additionally, the center links also feature a brushed top surface and polished edges. What you end up with is a bracelet that also plays with the light perfectly. Every time you wear it, the shimmering light that comes from the bracelet is a lovely sight. The quality of the tapered bracelet is on point, and it features a great solid folding deployant clasp. There is no micro-adjust feature which would have been nice. It does come with half-links for precision sizing, though.
Is this the best bracelet out there? Probably not, but it definitely beats a lot of the competition in terms of design and comfort. Right off the bat, the Caliber 0200 felt great on my wrist. The bracelet really hugs the wrist, and the overall weight balance was perfect. But there was one thing that stood out immediately that was a bit disappointing. Robert-Jan was actually the first who saw it and pointed it out. It’s one of those “what has been seen cannot be unseen” situations. The end link is executed — like all links — with the mentioned chamfered edge. As a result, the link creates a visual gap between the end link and the case. While the end link definitely connects perfectly, that small part doesn’t, but it is defining in how you see it on the wrist. It’s a detail that is defining in its on-wrist presence.
Overall, Citizen has created an absolutely amazing watch with the new Caliber 0200. The design, the movement, the quality, and the finishing are on a much higher level than anything else the brand currently has on offer. Having said that, it also should be a lot better. With its $6,000 price tag, it’s a significant step up for the brand. Citizen is entering a field with a lot of great competition. There aren’t necessarily many brands that offer a greatly designed luxury steel sports watch with an integrated bracelet, an in-house movement, and the level of execution you are getting with the Caliber 0200. The closest thing within that specific category would be the Zenith Defy Classic.
Another brand that many people will undoubtedly bring up is Grand Seiko. It’s the biggest competitor and the obvious choice when it comes to Japanese watches in this price category. Can the Citizen Caliber 0200 deliver the same levels of refinement and finishing as the Grand Seiko models? Within the Fratello team, we have had a lot of discussion about it and despite the fact that The Citizen is an excellent watch, Grand Seiko still has the edge for many. But we also agreed that when it comes to the overall design, the bracelet, and the incredible movement, this Citizen Caliber 0200 definitely has a lot going for it. It is quite simply a stunning piece that is sure to win a lot of people over.
It’s a question of perception
Whether the brand can pull off asking $6K for a watch is a purely personal question. I do not have a problem with that kind of price when the product delivers. As mentioned earlier, I am one of those people that loves it when a brand like Citizen, which doesn’t have the reputation of creating high-end watches, surprises us. However, Citizen has done just that. Though I absolutely realize that paying $6,000 for a Citizen might be unthinkable for some. It’s not easy for a brand that doesn’t yet have the reputation to ask its clients, especially with the competition out there at this price point. The product here speaks for itself, and might just prove to be a step in the right direction for Citizen’s reputation. This is why I would love to see Citizen continue creating more of these high-end pieces in the future.
The Citizen Caliber 0200 will be available at selected retailers starting in August 2020. If you want to find out more, visit the Citizen Caliber 0200 website.