Citizen Watch Co.

Tokyo, Japan | C.1918

Photo Credit: Andrei Sarusi

While the earliest version of the alarm clock dates back to the year 725, the Citizen Watch Co. has been in the business of keeping time since 1918. Founded by Kamekichi Yamazaki, Citizen officially formed when Yamazaki and Swiss watchmaker Rodolphe Schmid came together and transformed the Shokosha Watch Research Institute into Citizen Watch Co.

Yamazki was the founder of Shokosha, and Schmid was a well-respected Swiss watchmaker and merchant in Japan. Together, they grew Citizen into a successful business. Tokyo’s mayor supported the company during its early years and is also credited with coining its name. Mayor Tajiri Inajiro’s intention was to make watches available and affordable to the public, but the first person to own a Citizen watch was Japan’s Emperor Taish.

After some challenging years, Citizen’s business took off when they introduced wristwatches to the market. Schmid’s ingenuity to import manufacturing machinery from Switzerland helped to drive production and reinforce his technical expertise rooted in the Swiss tradition of watchmaking. After enduring World War II, Citizen continued to thrive as the Japanese watch industry began to boom.

Citizen watches are best known for their light weight, ultra-thin design, and light-powered battery. The first such wristwatch was Citizen’s Crystron Solar Cell released in 1977. But this commitment to expedient design does not diminish the watch’s accuracy, also known as tolerance. A 2018 prototype pocket watch, the Caliber 0100, clocked in at an unprecedented +/- 1 second tolerance.

Citizen continues to make their timepieces in house, with some of their quartz models being assembled by hand. These watchmakers are called Meisters and Super Meister. To become a Super Meister, one must have 30 years of experience as a Meister and are responsible for hand assembly, finishing and regulation of all high-end watches.

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