’64, Citizen not only offers a vintage inspired watch
at an affordable price, but also pays tribute to an exceptional milestone in
watchmaking history. Launched in five different models with distinctive dial
colours, on bracelet and leather straps, these watches pay tribute to the
pioneering spirit of Citizen in wristwatch innovation, inspired by the iconic Parawater
Paying tribute to the technical milestone of the first water resistant
watch from a Japanese watchmaker in 1959.
While it is normal to expect watches to be water resistant these days,
this was not the case in the first half of the 20th century. Certainly, while
the water resistant watch had already been invented and patented in the 1920’s
by the Swiss, these were, by and large, not widely available to the
To this end, watches were still considered delicate objects that had to
be handled with care, especially around water. A simple everyday task such as
washing hands required one to take off one’s watch in order to prevent damage,
and using it while swimming was definitely something that was just not
With a history of continually making watches that would be useful to
their owners, Citizen had, along with other watch companies in Japan, already
begun research into the subject of making water resistant watches with
excellent performance. Due to their early start, they were able to release
their watch ahead of other companies in 1959.
The Parawater, the result of Citizen’s
research efforts, was the first completely water and dust resistant
watch by a Japanese watchmaker, and it was so named due to the technical
innovation of water resistance that was the highlight of the watch, with the
combination of the word “para” meaning protection and “water” to indicate that
the watch was protected from water. To underscore the importance of this
innovation, the name of the watch, Parawater, was placed on the dial
where the logo of the brand would normally be.
(left) The original Citizen Parawater from 1959, the first Japanese water resistant watch ever made
(right) The original technical plans of the Citizen Parawater show the extensive use of O rings that protect the watch against water intrusion.
The Parawater was rated to a depth of about 5 bar (50 metres),
and it achieved its level of water protection due to the use of O rings that
were made of a special rubber (butadiene acrylic nitrile copolymer). One large
O ring was mounted on the case back, and this in conjunction with an
extensively modified crown and tube assembly each with smaller O rings, made
sure that the movement of the watch was completely sealed from water and
The benefits of this technical innovation could not be overstated, as
owners of the Parawater could wear their watch while swimming or to the
beach without fear. On subsequent watches, the success of the watch led to the
acceleration of development in the area of water resistance in watches
generally, and for Citizen, was the foundation of their line of professional
diving watches that would come in the 70’s.
One interesting detail that ties the Parawater to the new Kuroshio ’64 is that the retail price of the watch at the time of release was JPY
6,000, which was affordable given that the starting salary of a highschool
graduate at the time was about JPY12,500.
Telling the world –
the Kuroshio ‘64 project
With the introduction of the Parawater in
1959 being the groundbreaking innovation that it was, Citizen embarked on a
series of promotional campaigns over the years that followed, with the most
extreme tests that a watch could face in water.
The first extreme test, though not officially
organised by the company, took place in 1962, when two Citizen Parawater
watches accompanied Japan’s most famous yachtsman, Kenichi Horie, on his
successful solo crossing of the Pacific Ocean on the “Mermaid” Yacht. Just 23
years old at the time, Horie was the first man in history to make a non-stop
solo crossing of the Pacific Ocean.
Upon his return, Mr Horie, who had been extremely
satisfied with the performance of the Parawater watches that had
accompanied him on his trip, donated one to the Citizen company. In return and
in gratitude for receiving a watch of such historic importance, Citizen
presented Mr. Horie with a new “Citizen Chronometer”.
While this “test” might have showcased the real-world performance of the
Parawater by a sportsman using it in extreme situations, more were to
come that would further demonstrate what the watch was truly capable of.
Left: A technical drawing of the test buoy, showing the Parawater mounted within that was below the waterline.
Right: The design on the buoy cover, indicating the aim of the buoy.
In 1963, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Tokyo University
of Marine Science and Technology were about to embark on an ocean current
survey, with bottles dropped in the sea with a survey form contained within,
for people who picked them up to send back. This survey was modified in conjunction
with Citizen, as it was the perfect opportunity to do the ocean current survey
and a performance test of the Parawater at the same time.
To this end, a distinctive bright yellow buoy was
designed that was highly visible in the water, with clear indications of what
it was and its research aims printed on the top side of the buoy. Each buoy
also came with a Parawater watch suspended just below the water line,
and instructions on how to contact Citizen by the person who found it. As a
bonus and incentive to contact Citizen, the finder of the watch was allowed to
Over the course of the year, 140 buoys
were launched on four separate occasions, with the furthest report of buoys
found coming from Oregon in the USA and Vancouver in Canada.
(left) The advertisement of the project in 1963. Citizen Parawater watches in their distinctive buoys are thrown overboard for the first major test in 1963.
Text: “The world’s first experiment: Citizen Parawater on the black current to America”
(right) The drop off points of the Citizen Parawater watches and the projected current flow are depicted here for the first major test in 1963.
In 1964, the test was extended and named “Kuroshio
64” after the Kuroshio current that flows past Taiwan and the southeast coast
of Japan. For this test, 47 buoys with a Parawater watch were each
dropped off the coast of the Sanin sea.
It’s interesting to note that in all the instances
of found buoys, all the watches that they contained were checked and found to
be functioning perfectly, which is a remarkable testament to the technical
achievement of Citizen in creating the Parawater.
Iconic Parawater reborn as the Kuroshio ‘64
The packaging of the Kuroshio ’64 takes inspiration from the buoy design of the namesake test in 1964.
The new Citizen Kuroshio ’64 has a design that takes many cues from the original Parawater of
1959, with many similarities that are obvious at first glance, from the shape
of the case and lugs, to the arrowhead hour markers, dauphine hands and domed
The modern upgrades in the design include a modern
41mm case size, a more grippable crown as well as lumed hour marker dots.
Powering the watches is Citizen’s own Calibre 8310,
an automatic movement that features a useful power reserve of 60 hours and hacking
Of note is the dial design, embossed with a pattern
that is inspired by ocean waves, and that also adds visual interest due to the
texture. As well, the dials that the watches will be launched in – dark blue,
black, dark green, beige and silver white – are the various colours that the
ocean can appear in.
The first models that are available include a dark
blue, black and silver white dial on stainless steel bracelet, as well as a
silver white dial model on black leather strap and a dark green dial model on
brown leather strap.
The collection will be available in Singapore,
Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, Hong Kong SAR, Taiwan region, Korea,
Philippines and Cambodia.
CITIZEN ASIA LIMITED SERIES:
Available from April 2020 in selected countries*
Black Leather strap
Brown Leather Strap
Diameter 41mm and Thickness 12.6mm *Design
Cal.8310 / Automatic / Date Display /
50m water resistance / Luminous (hands + hour marker dots) / approx. 60hr power reserve
*actual delivery dates to be advised by local country
representatives and distributors
ABOUT CITIZEN WATCH
CITIZEN WATCH is a true manufacture d’horlogerie
with a comprehensive manufacturing process that extends from creating a watch’s
individual components to its final assembly. The company operates in more than
140 countries and regions around the world. Since its founding in 1918, CITIZEN
have held the belief of “Better Starts Now” — that is, no matter who you are and what you do,
it is always possible to make something better, and now is the time to start
doing it. Sharing this belief, we have made watches, invented and improved
technologies and explored the future of watches such as our proprietary
light-powered Eco-Drive technology and state-of-the-art satellite-synchronized
* The final design and
specifications are subject to change without notice.
* Eco-Drive is
registered trademarks or trademarks of CITIZEN Watch Co., Ltd.