A new era of mechanical Citizen watches is upon us. Not long ago, Japan’s Citizen watches took renewed interest in automatic models after seemingly placing mechanical watches on the back burner for some years. Citizen’s product development team was probably mostly focused on the popular Eco-Drive collection of solar-powered quartz watches and other high-tech models. The market for automatic mechanical watches has been so strong, however, that nearly 15 years ago, Citizen decided it needed to materially ramp up and modernize its mechanical watch strategy. This began at Citizen’s in-house movement-making firm with the launch of the Miyota (“Miyota” is the brand name of the Citizen Group’s externally-sold movements) 9000 series of competitively priced albeit high-performance mechanical movements in around 2010.

At first, Citizen mostly supplied 9000 series movements to external companies, acting as a parts supplier. Then, Citizen started to include variations of the base 9000 movements in its own watches with a new larger family of timepieces that Citizen called Series 8. With Series 8 and a few other collections of timepieces, Citizen has now fully reintroduced mechanical movements into the modern Citizen brand product lineup, but their work isn’t finished yet. Series 8 is really just getting started, and the company has very high hopes for the new Series 8 890 Mechanical (Ref. NB6060-58L) diver-style watch, as well as its various sister models.

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There is something else very important to mention about the modern era of Citizen’s more elite-priced automatic watches (which are still competitive when looking at many of the alternatives), and that’s who they are designed for. In past eras, it was mostly the Japanese domestic market for which Citizen was designing its higher-end watches. This led to some designs that were interesting but often failed to capture more global tastes. With Series 8, Citizen has adopted a more global product-appeal strategy with its various markets when it comes to the design and appeal of the watches. Granted, this is not the first time Citizen has developed higher-end watches for more global appeal (Citizen Signature watches come to mind), but it is the first time in recent history that the important Japanese company has done this with mechanical watches.

The goal for the current Series 8 family of higher-end watches is to appeal to a more international group of consumers aside from just domestic Japanese Citizen fans and timepiece enthusiasts. My understanding is that the Citizen design team incorporated feedback from various markets including the important United States market when coming up with this mechanical Series 8 890 diver, and other new and upcoming pieces in this expanding collection. It will be interesting to see in a few years, in what markets around the world the Citizen Series 8 pieces are doing best.

Citizen’s goals have been bolstered by the fact that other companies such as Japanese rival Seiko have been doing so well in the United States with their mechanical watches. This includes both higher-end Seiko brand automatic timepieces as well as those sold under its higher-end Grand Seiko label. Citizen’s intentions were also bolstered by the relative strength of the sub-$3,000 automatic watch market. With many mainstream timepiece companies increasing their prices out of this range, Citizen logically believes that consumers will prefer its mechanical watches versus those from smaller, start-up brands that don’t necessarily offer as much consumer assurance as an established giant like Citizen does. So far, the plan seems to be working. That said, Citizen is still only in the nascent phases of getting a majority of watch enthusiasts in America to know and understand Series 8, as well as the competitive placement of Citizen’s current mechanical watch lineup.

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The Citizen Series 8 890 family released this diver’s style model in 2024, and it doesn’t currently have an entirely distinctive name. (It deserves a nickname, and I hope the community can come up with a good one.) This watch is the direct result of feedback from the United States, and Japan wanting to make a watch that is both unique to Citizen but also “familiar” enough to fit in with current design and feature trends. This is a common strategy at Citizen, and when it works we have watches that we both immediately understand, but that also have some welcome elements of Citizen brand DNA.

Let’s begin with the movement inside the Citizen Series 8 890 NB6060-58L. It is the Citizen caliber 9051 automatic movement that operates at 4Hz with 42 hours of power reserve. Being relatively thin and stable in its performance are highlights. Citizen, like Seiko, often under-reports the performance of the movement. They claim a -10/+20 second per day average performance (slightly better than Seiko’s higher-end 6R and 8R movements), reserving higher-performance numbers for even more prestigious movements they produce for more expensive watches. With that said, most of the people I talk to notice better performance than that when it comes to normal daily wear of the caliber 9051 automatic with time and date mechanism. The movement is also visible through an exhibition caseback, which is historically a rare feature to find on Citizen’s automatic timepieces.

The first impressive thing I noticed about the Series 8 890 NB6060-58L case is that it offers 200 meters of water resistance without a screw-down crown. This allows for manual winding anytime you like (even though the movement is a self-winding automatic) and is mostly likely accomplished via heavy-duty crown stem gaskets. There is a second pull-out crown on the case used to turn the internal rotating diver’s style bezel. There are no clicks for this internal bezel, but it has a smooth, stable moving action to it which allows it to feel high-end and precise.

Another important technical feature of the case and movement is magnetic resistance. This is important because mechanical watches are negatively affected by a variety of magnetic fields that they may be exposed to, which can temporarily or permanently affect the performance of the mechanical movement (though demagnetization is possible via a simple process). Swiss movements have been increasingly touting anti-magnetic properties, and thus it makes sense for Citizen to follow suit. Such environmental resistance is admittedly a passive feature that you can’t admire when glancing at the watch, but it is still important, and interesting since the watch has an exposed caseback. Citizen has not been specific in mentioning the metrics behind the magnetic resistance, but I think it is safe to suggest the timepiece will ward off all but the most intense magnetic fields that you are likely to encounter as a regular… citizen.

Now let’s discuss the dial and case design of these diver’s watch-style Citizen Series 8 890 watches. We can see that Citizen wanted to combine a diver’s instrument look with that of an integrated bracelet sports lifestyle watch. The case also has an eight-sided bezel, which suggests the popular Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, and “side flanks” which are reminiscent of the Gerald-Genta-designed Patek Philippe Nautilus. These two design elements are so popular these days, that many (many) watches currently exist with geometric bezels and side flanks on the case. It is actually a nice look, and the resulting steel cases are among the most interesting I’ve ever seen from Citizen at this price point. The finishing and polishing are also excellent for the money. However, I do miss seeing branding or a graphic applied to the side of the crowns.

Even though the Citizen Series 8 890 NB6060-58L has bold proportions, it is a sports watch that wears modestly. The steel case is 42.6mm wide and 11.7mm thick. That isn’t ultra-thin by most standards, but the relative thinness of the case really works to its advantage. Over the dial is a flat, AR-coated sapphire crystal. I think Citizen did a pretty nice job with the overall design. It feels a lot more interesting than a standard round case, and the various levels of detailing on the case give the watch a much more designer feel. There will be those who aren’t entirely convinced that the design is cohesive, but that is probably a natural outcome of Citizen trying to accomplish many things, for many people in a single timepiece platform.

While I am not always a fan of watches with internal rotating bezels, Citizen did a very admirable job designing a diver’s style dial that is both functional and decorative. The face itself is textured, with a new pattern that Citizen designed and claims is inspired by the Tokyo skyline. I chuckled at that since there are so many watches inspired by the Tokyo skyline, and they all look different. That more or less means that the Tokyo skyline is different, depending on your perspective, and also something that in watch design can be so interpretative, and no one knows they are seeing the “Tokyo skyline” unless they are reminded of it. In any event, Citizen’s take on checkered dial texture is not bad and looks pretty nice here in blue. On the face are applied hour markers and easy-to-read hands, all painted in a lavish amount of luminant material.

The companion matching steel bracelet is really nice. The links are thin enough that it feels refined, and wearing the Series 8 890 200-meter diver is very comfortable. No, the tapering bracelet doesn’t immediately stand out as an original design, but rather has a more “familiar” feel to it. It closes with a secure and beefy locking fold-over clasp with a push-button release. However, there is no micro-adjust element to it that would have been nice. More so, there is no quick-release system for the bracelet that might allow you to attach a strap (not that I am aware of any specific strap Citizen makes that fits this unique sizing or connection system). It just would have been nice to include a companion rubber strap and a quick-release system for the bracelet. Perhaps in the future, Citizen is probably hard at work on a system like that as we speak.

The 2024 Citizen Series 8 890 NB6060-58L is one of a few versions of this new Series 8 890 200m diver’s style watch that the brand will be releasing this year. A companion model is the NB6069-53H which is the same watch but $100 USD more because it has a gold-tone plating over the base steel. There is also the limited edition of 1,700 pieces Citizen NB6066-51W that has a pink/copper dial inspired by sakura (cherry) blossoms, a popular aesthetic in Japan. The pictured steel and blue model will probably be the most popular mainstream seller until Citizen comes out with even more variety. I can see a burgundy or green-toned version of the dial working equally well. Price for the Citizen Series 8 890 200 meter diver’s style watch reference NB6060-58L watch is $1,595 USD. Learn more at the Citizen watches website.

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