Hands-On With The Citizen Series 8 870

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Earlier this year we brought you news of the new Series 8 collection from Citizen, a watch that strikes an aggressively modern tone first seen in a Japan only release from 2008. The watches were and are a clear departure from the Aqualand, Satellite Wave, and PCAT styles we often associate with the brand. The Series 8 watches represent a return to simple, geometric shapes with an emphasis on legibility. It also happens to align with some very on-trend themes happening in the watch world at the moment. 

Citizen’s newest Series 8 collection features three families in the 830, 831, and the 870 seen here. The 830 and 831 receive a similar (but different) sharp cut case while the 870 gets a more prominent bezel design built into the structure of the case. Together, these watches represent a stripped down take on the Citizen design language that does away with unnecessary complexity. The “8” of Series 8 represents the infinity symbol, and is meant to invoke “infinite possibilities of Citizen craftsmanship”. While that may sound a bit nebulous (to be charitable), the Series 8 and in particular the 870 do offer something of interest: a steel sport (?) watch with integrated bracelet design and an in-house movement all for a reasonable $2,000.

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$2000

Hands-On With The Citizen Series 8 870

Case
Stainless Steel
Movement
Citizen cal. 0950
Dial
Black
Lume
Super Luminova
Lens
Sapphire
Strap
Integrated Steel Bracelet
Water Resistance
100M
Dimensions
40x47mm
Thickness
10.9mm
Lug Width
mm
Crown
Screw Down
Warranty
Yes
Price
$2000

This is a tricky watch to nail down. It’s chunky and muscular like a sports watch, but there’s no sporting functionality in sight. There’s no bezel, no tachymeter, no pushers or valves… nothing that says “I do sporty shit on the weekends, you better keep up” to an onlooker. There’s just three hands and a date. The resulting focal point of this watch is the case and bracelet architecture, and if it looks a bit aggressive, well, that’s because it is. There’s little in the way of grace with this watch and that feels like the point. 

The piano black dial hosts a rather portly hour and minute hand tracking against long applied hour batons. What they lack in elegance they make up for in legibility save for the unusually long hour hand. It’s a sparse dial with just a few components left competing for your attention. The most jarring of which are the framed date window at 3 o’clock, and the ‘Series 8’ label at 6 o’clock. A framed date window is what it is, and I don’t want to beat that dead horse any further, but the typeface selected for the ‘Series 8’ feels slightly disconnected from the rest of the watch. 

If you’re sensing some frustration here it’s mostly due to the expectation Citizen set with their lovely The Citizen (that’s never not awkward to write out). Citizen created a beautiful dial for The Citizen (I mean, seriously, imagine if Ferrari named a car The Ferra… wait, nevermind) which showed restraint paired with excellent design decisions, and in comparison the Series 8 870 feels almost generic. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with it, there are no real offenses being committed here, but I kind of wish there were. The most unique feature are the double wide hour batons fitted to all the even numbered hours rather than the cardinal positions.

That leaves us with the case and bracelet, which are the main attraction of the 870. The only soft line is sight appears at the edge of the thick steel bezel. The bezel is brushed at its top, and broken into a top and bottom section, with a black ‘insert’ occupying the territory between 2 and 4, and 8 and 10. It’s a single piece that rounds the dial and creates something of a two-toned look without going all the way. There’s no functional element here, just pure aesthetics not far removed from the ‘claws’ we saw on the Omega Constellation

The midcase gets a brushed vertical wall which hosts the ‘lug’ structures that take hold midway up the waistline. A polished slab connects the brushed vertical and flat top surfaces, creating an angled end point that runs the width of the case creating the integrated end-link along with the first centerpiece of the bracelet. There are no beveled edges here, just straight brushed H links with similarly brushed center links. 

While the above may sound a bit aggressive, it actually wears rather well. The case diameter is just 40mm and the total thickness is under 11mm. It reminds me of the IWC Ingenieur 3239 references, which feature a very similar case and bracelet design and also featured a slim 40mm case (hey IWC, please bring back the old Inge, K?). Visually, the watch still looks like it could unfold into a sword, but it fits tip-top under a cuff with ease.

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Unlike the 3239 Ingenieur, the 870 gets a new in-house movement in the caliber 0950, introduced alongside the Series 8 collection. The caseback is closed here so there’s no view, but the automatic movement is stated to perform within a respectable -5/+10 seconds per day of accuracy, and gets a 50 hour power reserve. There’s not much else to say about this movement as it’s new and yet to be proven in the long term, but it shows a clear commitment by Citizen to be a serious player in this segment. 

And just what is this segment? Again, this is a $2,000 watch with a reasonably accurate in-house movement and an integrated bracelet. There are other watches that fit the bill here, from the likes of Seiko and Tissot (and their upcoming Powermatic PRX, review on that coming soon), but nothing that quite hits the same mood as the Citizen here. On the other hand, this is a $2,000 Citizen. That’s no small sum, especially from a brand that, frankly, has some work to do in the brand equity department at this level.

Sure, I’ve got some beef with the execution here, but make no mistake, the base design here is a good one and I would very much like to see Citizen continue to build on the Series 8 as a concept. We see what they’re capable of in the The Citizen (oof), and it’s just a matter of connecting a few dots before they’re really up and humming with this one. The Citizen Series 8 collection will be available from this autumn. Citizen

Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent the past decade covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seikos to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for classic cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.
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