The Citizen Signature line slowly transitioned from relatively high-end quartz watches to mechanical offerings that are more affordable than the highest end Campanola line from the Japanese watchmaker. “Casually-dressy” could be used to describe the collection, as the watches show some refinement and qualities that aren’t present in most Citizen watches. These pieces hover around the $1,000 mark and they’re nice enough to wear with a suit but won’t drive you crazy if you scratch them a little or wear them out socially. Here are two new pieces, the Citizen Signature Octavia Automatic watches on a steel bracelet as well as a rubber and steel bracelet. With a polarizing dial cutout revealing the balance wheel, the watch is distinctly Japanese in style and execution.
Named for their eight sided bezels, the Citizen Octavia collection up to this point includes both men’s and women’s models and has been thus far powered by Citizen’s excellent Eco-Drive quartz calibers. The new Signature Collection Octavia, powered by Citizen’s own automatic winding caliber 9040, represents a step up for the growing collection. Additional refinements do not stop with the movement. The new Signature Collection Octavia also presents a new larger case with a 44mm width as well as a black ion coated, engraved bezel on the black dialed, rubber strap variant. The other version features a two tone color scheme with gold plated portions contrasting with stainless steel throughout the case, bezel, and bracelet. Case finishing is also up a notch or two compared to many Citizens. In particular, the lugs, case sides, and crown guards on the new Octavia Automatic are neatly beveled and make use of alternating brushing and polishing finishing techniques.
Additional finishing like what we’re seeing here as well as the inclusion of an automatic movement indicate Citizen’s very intentional luxury design concept. The new case size, while larger than its predecessors, should still fit the majority of watch wearers and is in keeping with the lingering large watch movement. Above the dial, I’m pleasantly surprised to see an anti-reflective sapphire crystal. Case back duties are handled by a mineral crystal exhibition case back, which shows off the new 42 hour power reserve caliber oscillating within.
I really like the dials on the new Citizen Signature Collection Automatic. Both are black with applied indices and Citizen signatures. The rubber-strap version has silver colored outlines for the hour markers with a sharp red seconds hand, while the two tone predictably has indices outlined in gold with a more demure seconds hand. Hour markers also feature a reasonable helping of lume as do the excellent hands including the second hand which has a tip outlined in red. There is a lot to like here and the dial as well as the brushed bezel look and feel quite high-end especially when one considers the $1,000-ish price point. It would be tough to get all this from one of the Swiss brands. In that same vein, though, there are some distinctly Japanese design elements that I am personally just not a fan of.
In addition to the text reading “automatic” on the dial, both dials take full visual advantage of the automatic movement by making it visible via a large aperture strangely oriented between the 4 and 6 o’clock positions on the dial. The balance wheel is clearly visible through this little window but my neurotic sense of symmetry makes me feel like the whole thing should be centered around the six o’clock position. I also feel like this is an unnecessary feature of this otherwise clean and well executed dial. A watch showing off the fact that it has an automatic movement is a little bit silly when you already have an exhibition case back. For most, a sweeping second hand is enough to indicate you aren’t dealing with a quartz watch and the text indicating the automatic movement, as well as the exhibition case back, is more than enough to communicate this. The display window is just overkill in my opinion.
Although the steel in the integrated rubber/steel strap undoubtedly adds some strength and aggressive style, I’m still finding myself in favor of the two-tone steel bracelet. The two tone version benefits from a mostly brushed stainless steel bracelet with small gold accents on the outsides of its center links which I like a lot better. Citizen bracelets tend to be well done and comfortable and this one is no different. Clasp duties are handled with a small, signed butterfly clasp which is also functional, comfortable, and well-finished.
Viewed together, the features of the new Citizen Signature Collection Automatic combine to create a high quality watch which is as well appointed as many other expensive options. I can’t get over the decision to include the exhibition cutout on the dial and that’s just my opinion but I have a feeling more than a few people will agree. The rubber strap model is priced at $1,095 and the two-tone is priced at $1,295. citizenwatch.com