Citizen is a famous watch brand known worldwide for its reliability, affordability, and quality. However, Citizen also seems to have some expensive models that cost thousands. This brings a question – are Citizen watches luxury?
In general, Citizen is not a luxury watch brand. Instead, it is more of an affordable brand. Most Citizen watches do not use high-quality materials common in luxury watches. However, some Citizen models could be considered entry-level luxury watches.
Are Citizen Watches Luxury?
Citizen cannot be considered luxury, but more as an affordable watch brand. Most Citizen do not seem to apply a high degree of hand assembly and do not use premium materials. The majority of Citizen’s watches are also under $1,000. However, some Citizen models could be considered entry-level luxury watches.
Citizen watches are made chiefly of common materials. Most of their watches under $1,000 are made of 316L stainless steel, have mineral crystals, and run on quartz movements.
Most Citizens are not made from titanium, gold alloys, or diamonds. There are some gold-colored models, but these are often made with stainless steel and gold color coating rather than solid gold alloy. As a result, many Citizen watches look generic.
Such a build makes sense since the selling price is also low. To ensure at least some profitability, Citizen needed to be more creative in their use of materials.
Citizen do not claim to apply a complete or high degree of hand assembly to their watches. Citizen also does not claim to fully assemble their watches in Japan.
Many Citizen watches are probably produced and assembled in Japan, Thailand, China, and Brazil, with high automation applications. This made sense as Citizen’s watches are not expensive, and they might need to reduce costs by applying more automation and outsourcing.
In-House Movements and Technology
Citizen is the creator of their own in-house movement, the Eco-Drive. This movement is essentially a quartz movement but given power by light. Any light source can power the movement, be it natural or artificial.
Citizen also has some proprietary technology, such as their Super Titanium. It is a unique blend of titanium and some other minerals to produce a tough, scratch-resistant yet light watch case and bracelets.
Citizen as a watch group also owns Miyota. Miyota is a movement maker that has pretty much powered many watch companies that do not have their own movements.
As such, when it comes to movements and technology, Citizen seem to show characteristics of a luxury watch company.
Citizen watches are not known to have popular homages made after their models.
Instead, some Citizen watches do carry the looks of popular models. For example, some versions of their popular Promaster series dive watches look like Rolex Submariner.
READ MORE: Affordable Homages To The Rolex Submariner
However, these homage models are a small percentage of the total number of watch models Citizen makes. This means Citizen is not just a homage company but a full-fledged watch company with some homage modes.
Citizen watches are not expensive, but to the surprise of many, you can find fake Citizen watches.
Perhaps the logic works that people who buy Citizen watches are not too detailed on the watch designs since they are not too expensive. This means the counterfeiters do not have to make very high-quality fakes regarding Citizen watches.
So they proceed to make counterfeits of Citizen watches since they do not have to put too much effort into ensuring they make the counterfeits right.
Citizen does not generate that luxury, prestigious image like you commonly associate with Omega, Rolex, or IWC. Instead, Citizen has a basic, no-frills and wear-it-and-go image.
Strapping on a Citizen tends to not evoke much emotion. Still, you know that the watch will be ultra-reliable and always work when needed. You can probably relate a Citizen watch to driving a Toyota Camry.
You also do not see Citizen being very aggressive in their marketing or trying to market their watches as luxury items.
You do not see Citizen sponsoring motor racing, gold, or tennis events. You certainly would not see ads for Citizen watches in publications such as Wall Street Journal or The Economist.
In general, when you look at the prices of Citizen watches, it reflects their position as an affordable watch brand.
When you look at their US website, most models are priced below $1,000. Only about 10 are priced over that. The most expensive model is the Hakuto R at $3,500.
Of these models, the most affordable are the Drive and Corso at $180. On Amazon, you can find Citizen watches for men for as low as $70.
However, when you go outside and venture into Citizen’s home market in Japan, you may discover some very well-made watches.
These watches are pushing into entry-level luxury watches, such as those from The Citizen collection.
How Does A Watch Brand Become A Luxury Brand?
Luxury watch brands tend to perform better and use better materials than common watch brands. They also make their own watches in-house and have an expensive, exclusive, and high-end brand image. Their price also usually start in the four-figure range.
It is hard to describe a high-end watch brand because it means different things to different people. If you have never spent $600 on a watch before, it is a high-end watch.
It is just that these things set luxury watch brands apart from cheaper watch brands in general.
- In-House Movements and Technology
- Brand Image
Materials: Most of the time, watch brands use more expensive materials. You might see watch cases or bracelets made of 904L steel, titanium, or 18K gold instead of 316L stainless steel.
Also, some high-end watch brands make their watches look and feel better by using gemstones like diamonds or top-grain leather.
Assembly: Most high-end watch brands put their watches together by hand to ensure they are high quality. Much attention is also paid to making and putting the watches together in-house.
Affordable watches tend to perform only some watchmaking work, such as the watch case, but use watch movements from third-party. Some also totally outsource their watch productions.
In-House Movements and Technology: Most luxury watch companies make their own watch movements so they can better control and regulate how their watches work.
Most of the time, regular of cheaper watchmakers buy watch movements from companies like Ronda, Sellita, and Miyota. They may not have the skills or the money to start their own movement, or they may not have enough money to do research and development.
High-end watch companies also develop their own technology to improve their watches. These could be things like a new way to mix metals to make a better watch case or parts that can handle magnetic force.
Design: The designs of high-end watch companies are well-known and can be used as inspiration for new designs.
When making their own dive watches, many people think of the Rolex Submariner or the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean as good examples.
The designs they make for watches have also become popular. For example, when Rolex changed or added new parts to their Oyster Perpetual, many other watch companies did the same. Good examples include fluted bezels, cyclops magnifiers, and jubilee bracelets.
Homages: Many high-end watch companies pay tribute to their best-selling models. Homages are cheaper copies that look like the original but are made by a different company. A lot of the time, they are sold for less than the original.
A tribute is not a fake watch or one that looks like a copy of another watch. Most of the time, they have the logo of the person who made the tribute, and they are slightly different from the original to stay out of legal trouble.
This happens when the original watch is popular, and many people want to buy it.
Clone watches: Fakes or copies will be a problem for companies that make expensive watches. This will happen because the watches are expensive, and many people may not be able to afford them. I also think that a lot of people are curious about it.
That gives the clone watchmakers a market to fill and a way to make money. It can be hard to tell if a fake is real because it could be a low-quality copy or a high-quality super-clone that needs a lot of attention from watchmakers and serial number checks to tell.
People often think that a luxury watch company is high-end and stylish. They do this by putting their brands near events, people, or media outlets that have the same kind of image.
People think that tennis and golf are more important than other sports, so many high-end watch companies sponsor them. They do not give money to football or wrestling teams.
Luxury watch companies also put ads in these kinds of media because they show wealth, power, and prestige.
Pricing: Finally, high-end watch brands usually charge a lot for their watches, at least in the four-figure range. This means they can spend more money on new watch designs and advertising.
Also, because their watches were so expensive, only people with a certain level of success, achievement, and wealth could buy them.
Are Citizen Watches Swiss Made?
Citizen’s watches are not made in Switzerland but in Japan, Thailand, China, and Brazil. The Japanese workshops produce higher quality timepieces, while the overseas facilities produce affordable watches or make only watch parts.
As per Swiss Law, a watch can only be declared as ‘Swiss Made’ if:
- 60% of its production is done in Switzerland (design, parts manufacturing, etc.)
- The watch uses a Swiss movement (e.g., ETA, Sellita, STP, etc.)
- The watch is encased and inspected in Switzerland.
Since Citizen does not have facilities in Switzerland, you can safely say that Citizen is not Swiss Made.
However, suppose you consider Citizen as a watch group. In that case, they have some Swiss Made brands, for example, Frederique Constant and Alpina.
READ MORE: Are Citizen Watches Swiss Made?