Mechanical movement lovers with a place in their heart for affordable automatic watches that are made in Japan are likely going to have the same positive feelings I do for the new-for-2015 Citizen Signature Grand Classic 9184 that contains a brand new in-house made movement. Priced at just over $1,000, this new Citizen-made movement will power this dressy yet legible timepiece with enough character to keep it from being boring and enough distinctness to make it different.
Over the last few years, Citizen has transitioned its Signature collection from high-end quartz to pieces with their mechanical movements which are produced in their Miyota movement factory. I think this is a wise move and will finally help Citizen seriously compete with Seiko’s popular mechanical timepieces that range from rather inexpensive to their top Grand Seiko watches. Citizen’s Grand Seiko competitor is not Signature, but rather, Campanola. The Signature collection doesn’t have a direct Sieko analog, but uses Citizen’s in-house made movements in watches that are, for the most part, priced under $2,000.
The last time we visited a mechanical Citizen was with the Signature Grand Touring Sport (hands-on here). The Signature Grand Touring Sport had a three-hand automatic, and in the Citizen Signature Grand Classic, we have a brand new automatic movement with the caliber 9184. Visible through the sapphire crystal caseback on the rear of the steel case, the 9184 automatic movement operates at 4Hz with a 40 hour power reserve and offers the time, synchronized 24-hour hand (that acts as an AM/PM indicator), and my favorite complication, a power reserve indicator. It is a bit rare to find power reserve indicators on automatic watches, but you have one here at a pretty nice price.
Moreover, these are casual dressy watches with a lot of decorative value. Yes, there is a distinct “Japanese look” to them, but it is in a good way that feels more refined than designs such as this have looked in the past. The watch dial begins with a textured face with very legible hands filled with luminant. A flange ring has lume points for the hours as well as minute indicator. The sharply cut applied hour markers on the dial are good looking and help with overall legibility. The failure of most watches like this in the past has always been legibility, with a lot of good intent but a less-than-successful execution looking like less than the sum of its parts.
In the case of the Citizen Signature Grand Classic 9184, Citizen manages to get all the dial elements to work in relative harmony while adding the decorative elements and details they seem to like to include in watches like this. That it is an automatic with an new movement will add to the appeal of this interesting looking formal timepiece. In addition to the silver-dialed model with the blued steel hands, there is a brown dial with gold accents.
At 43mm wide, the Citizen Signature Grand Classic 9184 has a nice medium feel to it, even though the case is relatively thick. Look closely around the side of the case, and you’ll see a inner ring with a coined-edge to it which is an interesting detail. Citizen also offers the Citizen Signature Grand Classic 9184 on both a steel bracelet or a brown crocodile strap. I rather like the watch on both but I will say that a design such as this does look rather handsome on a glossy crocodile strap (especially with the brown dial).
Citizen is offering a lot of value here, and I know that a lot of people who simply can’t stomach the idea of spending $3,000 to well over $30,000 on a complex looking mechanical dress watch are going to flock to timepieces like the Citizen Signature Grand Classic 9184. Citizen is clever to supplement its mechanical sport watches with more classic/formal watches like this Citizen Signature Grand Classic 9184 because competitors like Seiko don’t really offer less expensive mechanical dress watches (which are mostly in the Grand Seiko line).
I rather liked this Citizen Signature Grand Classic 9184 timepiece a lot, even though I personally mostly wear sport watches. It is really that I appreciate the dial legibility, value, and overall refinement, which I am happy to see in a mechanical Citizen dress watch at this price level. Price for the Citizen Signature Grand Classic 9184 watch is $1,195 in all steel on the bracelet or on the crocodile strap and $1,295 in steel with rose gold accents and the black/brown dial on the bracelet. citizenwatch.com
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