The Citizen Watch Holding Company, which operates under Citizen Watch, has roots dating back to the early 20th century. Although it specialises in electronics, the Tokyo-based firm is best known for the many celebrated watch brands under its name.
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Citizen Watch Holding Company Overview
The Citizen Watch Holding Company, which operates under Citizen Watch, has roots dating back to the early 20th century.
Based in Tokyo, Citizen Watch Co., Ltd. is an electronics company that has, over the years, created calculators, hand-held televisions and much more.
It is best known, though, for its Citizen brand of watches. It is also the parent company of the American-born Bulova brand, and a host of others, including Swiss brands, as well. The company produces watches, watch parts, electronic equipment and more.
It also owns Miyota, a watch movement company.
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Citizen Watch Group’s History
It was back 100 years ago in 1918 that a Tokyo jeweler, Kamekichi Yamazaki, founded the Shokosha Watch Research Institute in Tokyo, with the aim of creating Japanese watches. He began commercial production of a pocket watch made entirely in Japan and called Citizen.
The goal was to offer pocket watches at an affordable price compared to the high-priced Swiss watches. Therefore, the name Citizen (the name had been registered in 1918) was selected to, hopefully, appeal to all citizens.
The company’s first break came with World War I, when the demand for watches grew. Within a few years, Citizen took over the Shokosha Watch Research Institute and gave it the formal name of Citizen Watch Co. Ltd.
A year later, the company began serial production of wristwatches with manual-wind movements. Still, growth was slow. It was not until the 1950’s that the brand began expanding, later emerging as a leader.
Citizen’s New Leadership
In 1946, Eiichi Yamada became president of Citizen, a post he retained for 35 years. It was under his direction that Citizen Trading Company was formed in 1949 to begin expansion around the world.
The focus in the ensuing decade was on both global growth and developing watch technology. During the 1950’s the company unveiled its first alarm watch, its first water-resistant watch and its first shock-resistant watch.
In 1960, Citizen joined forces with America’s Bulova Watch Company, wherein Citizen supplied watches and movements to Bulova for its highly affordable Caravelle collection.
Unfortunately, the agreement precluded Citizen from entering the American market as a competitor to Bulova – a deal that held fast until the mid 1970’s.
Bulova’s work with the electronic watch, the Accutron, however, inspired Citizen to investigate new ways of powering a watch. Citizen even opened a technical research and development lab for electronic watches, and introduced its first in 1966.
It unveiled its first titanium watch in 1970 and in 1971 released Japan’s first tuning fork watch (based on its knowledge from Bulova’s Accutron).
The Quartz Age Dawns
A few years later, Citizen began experimenting with quartz-powered watches, LED and LCD indications and more. It was during the quartz crisis that the Citizen brand pulled out in the lead.
The company had introduced its first quartz watch in 1975, the Quartz Crystron Mega and later developed a solar powered watch that eventually led to the brand’s Eco-Drive technology that was unveiled in 1995.
Throughout the years, Citizen quietly evolved, with a trading company, a movement factory called Miyota, which sells to brands around the world, and more. During the past decade, the Citizen Group has even begun purchasing Swiss watch brands.
Brands Owned By Citizen Group
In the 21st Century, the Citizen Group began acquiring watch brands around the world. In 2008, Citizen bought Bulova Watch Company (reportedly for $250 million), making the Citizen Group the world’s largest watch manufacturer.
Four years later, in 2012, Citizen Holding bought Prothor, the holding company for Swiss brands La Joux-Perret, Prototec and Arnold & Son.
La Joux-Perret is a movement and module watchmaking company (with clients such as Hublot, Panerai, Tag Heuer and others); Prototec is a components and parts maker, and Arnold & Son builds its own brand of luxury watches.
This deal reportedly was valued at CHF 64 million. In 2015, Arnold & Son resurrected the Angelus brand, which obviously now also falls under the Citizen umbrella.
In 2016, the Citizen Group bought the Swiss Frederique Constant Group, which includes Frederique Constant, Alpina and Ateliers de Monaco.
Today, just over 100 years after its founding, the Citizen watch brand remains a force in innovative watch technology and affordable timepieces. The brand not only produces watches under the Citizen name, but also offers offshoot brands.
The current tag line of the company is “Better Starts Now” – underscoring the concept of ways to better our lives.
The Citizen watch brand continues to produce the Eco-Drive watches powered by light, and is involved in a host of activities around the world, including tennis and figure skating. It also has a partnership with Disney, Marvel, and others.
Born as an American brand more than 140 years ago, Bulova has a long and storied past. Joseph Bulova founded the company in 1875 in New York, who registered more than 50 patents in his lifetime alone.
The brand’s first factory dedicated to the production of watch components opened in 1912, and over the ensuring century, Bulova was a leader in affordable watchmaking.
Furthermore, Bulova is known for creating a host of firsts, including the world’s first clock radio in 1928, and the first electronic tuning fork watch, Accutron, in 1961.
It coined the term “America Runs on Bulova Time” in the 1950’s – a slogan that has become iconic in and of itself.
Following World War II, Bulova established the Bulova School of Watchmaking in New York to help disabled veterans learn the skill of watchmaking. Today, the brand continues to create affordable watches for men and women.
As mentioned above, La Joux-Perret is a maker of watch movements and modules. It was originally founded in the late 20th century in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, as Jaquet S.A.
Its name was changed to La Joux-Perret around 2004, when it came under the auspices of Prothor Holding. The manufacture focuses on high-end movements including tourbillons.
Founded in 1989, Prototec SA creates parts and services to the watch industry, including cutting, rolling, stamping of metal and more.
Arnold & Son
Arnold & Son has roots dating back to 1764, when British watchmaker John Arnold created some of the most innovative watches for King George III (including the smallest repeater).
He is known for his incredible work in the 18th century on chronometers. He also earned patents for a detent escapement and a helical balance spring.
The brand was started anew again in 1995. It creates classic, elegant high-horology watches that are technically advanced in architecture and design. Its timepieces are all built in limited editions and feature unusual complications such as a wandering hour, true-beats seconds, tourbillon and more.
Originally founded in 1891 as Stolz Freres SA, what is today the Angelus brand became defunct as a result of the quartz crises.
In 2015, La Joux-Perret revived the brand. This was achieved by introducing the incredibly complex U10 Tourbillon Lumiere timepiece that was four years in the development stages.
Today, the small brand focuses on highly technical haute horlogerie timepieces.
Begun by husband-and-wife team Peter and Aletta Bax Stas in 1988, the Swiss brand of Frédérique Constant was begun with the goal of providing top-quality watches at realistic prices.
It released its first automatic mechanical timepieces in 1992, and has since created everything from three-hand watches, to calendars and even tourbillons. Sold around the world, the 30-year-old brand has held true to offering value at a fair price.
To date, the company produces 27 different calibers and has even unveiled a Hybrid smart watch. It produces timepieces for men and women that retail from a few thousand dollars to $70,000. It also inaugurated the Passion Award to honor outstanding entrepreneurial spirit.
It was in 1883 that Alpina was first found and was dedicated to making fine sport watches. By the early 1900’s the brand was winning awards for its watchmaking prowess.
This brand became a producer and supplier of watches to aviators during World War I and again in WWII. In the 1950’s, the brand established guidelines for what a sports watch should constitute — from anti-magnetism, to water resistance and more.
Unfortunately, the brand succumbed to the quartz crises in the 1970’s and was defunct for years.
In 2002, it was resurrected and reintroduced by Frédérique Constant’s founder, Peter Stas. The Alpina brand is dedicated to creating sports watches including dive, exploration and pilot watches. It also has a dedicated group of followers called Alpinists who are adventurers and outdoorsmen.
Ateliers de Monaco
Just over 10 years old, Ateliers de Monaco was co-founded by Frédérique Constant’s founder Peter Stas along with watchmaker extraordinaire Pim Koeslag and Robert van Pappelendam.
Ateliers de Monaco focuses on mechanical innovations at the high end of the spectrum, including perpetual calendars, tourbillons and minute repeaters.
It creates its own movements– and has already garnered four patents. All componentsare handdecorated and finished in house. Typically, the watches – all created in limited and numbered edition—have a work of art on their dial or case back.
The watches carry the Hallmark of Geneva certification attesting to their quality and finishing.
Now that you have read about the Citizen Group, learn more about other brands, watchmaking as well as how to properly use them with our own resources:
- All Watch Brand Guides
- Guide To Watch Movements
- YouTube Watch Videos & Reviews
- Bespoke Unit Watch Homepage
"A fine specimen of Japanese watchmaking heritage. The Citizen Group has grown to become one of the most respected horological conglomerates in the world."Rating: 5.0★★★★★