In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, civil unrest in the USA, and a complete detachment of Wall Street from Main Street, I needed some retail therapy badly and lo and behold a Citizen Diamond Flake fell into my lap.
I like to regard this post as a followup to my adventures down the rabbit hole of the thinnest vintage Japanese watches after my experience with the Seiko Goldfeather, which I contributed to W&W here.
Just to get it out of the way, Citizen won the battle for the thinnest, sweep seconds, hand winding only, vintage Japanese movement. It’s long journey to the throne can be found below.
1962—Citizen Diamond Flake—2.75mm
The thinnest, hand winding mechanical Japanese movement today (1.90mm) would be Seiko’s 6800 family, with Citizen retiring from producing mechanical watches and focusing mainly on its quartz movements. Note that the 6800 is also Seiko’s oldest movement still in production today.
The Citizen Diamond Flake was introduced in 1962 and powered by the 0700 movement, which came in 25 jewels. A 31 jewel variant came in the form of the 0701 movement, while a date complication was added in the 2700 movement evolution. Watches with the 2700 movement were labeled the Diamond Date Flake. A further evolution came in the form of the 2710 movement that’s found in the Date Flake, with the Diamond moniker being dropped. Both the Diamond Flake Date and Date Flake are actually harder to find than the thinner Diamond Flake.
I got this slightly tired example from Yahoo Japan which took a much longer time to arrive in Singapore compared to the usual speedy EMS process (15 days vs 5 days).
The dial is 37mm across (excluding the crown), which lets it sit nice and flat against my wrist and is a very nice modern size for a dress watch.
The name is printed in a cursive font at the twelve o’clock position with the Diamond Flake label (2 colliding arrow heads, similar to the advertisement show above) which are used only for this model range. In addition, most vintage Citizen watches actually do not have any label accompanying their model name.
You would have also noticed that except for the cardinal hour markers which are gold stripes, the rest of the hour markers are actually just black lines printed on the dial.
The dial is a very faint silver sunburst design, radiating out from the center of the dial.
There’s no minute markers but there’s an elevated, edged outer rail that circles the entire dial to add some depth to the otherwise flat dial.
The hands are arrow pointed with a short counterpoint except for the second hands which is entirely straight. I like the fact that both the hour and minute hands are of the correct length, just about brushing the hour and minute markers respectively, but the seconds hands are a tad too short in my honest opinion and would have been better if it was the same length as the minute hand.
At the 6 o’clock position, we have the “Parashock” branding, which is Citizen’s answer to Seiko’s “Diashock” shock absorber system, and the 25 jewel count printed neatly.
It should also be mentioned that there are minor stains and dots on the dial, on top of the stains at the peripheral edges of the dial. As mentioned earlier, this is a fairly tired example, but well expected for something that’s born in 1963 and makes it 57 years old at the time of writing.
The crown is signed with a stylised C which is only found in vintage Citizens.
The watch is actually thinner than the iPhone 7 on the right as the long elegant lugs extends beyond the caseback. From my rough measurement, the watch is just a tad thinner than 7mm, including its bulbous acrylic crystal, which protrudes out quite a fair bit as you can see from the picture above.
Here’s a shot of the gorgeous movement which unfortunately is hidden behind a solid case back. The gold plated movement is an indication of the high quality movement as it’s not found in lower end movements. Note that even the bridge is signed with its model name. There is also a circular finishing on the bridges.
I really like how the older movements comes with a huge balance wheel (approx 1/3 of the overall movement size) and beats at a leisurely 18,000 bps compared to the frantic beating (28,800 bph)of the much smaller balance wheels (approx 1/5 of the overall movement size) of modern movements.
Note that the rubber gasket of my example has completed disintegrated over time in my picture above. Never, ever let your vintage time pieces go near water unless they have been serviced and have all their rubber gaskets replaced.
To conclude, I really like how thin and dressy my Diamond Flake is. The problem is, I don’t see myself going back to an office environment any time soon! However, as I said at the start of this post, I bought this as a form of retail therapy. Examples can be found easily online, with prices corresponding with the condition, as it always is. I would have very much prefer a stainless steel example, but prices for those are almost always higher than the gold plated ones.
Stay safe everyone and embrace the new norm.