The Citizen Crystal 7 was a groundbreaker in the mid to late sixties. It looked good, was packed with features and at about A$65 (a little less than a tradesman’s weeky wage), it was very well priced (typical of all Japanese products of the time).
Let’s look at the features:
The movement was automatic wind and one of the slimmest around, It displayed the day as well as the date (rare in Swiss watches).
The date could be set quickly with the winding stem (a feature lacking in most Swiss watches).
It had an auxiliary manual wind (arch rival, Seiko, did not).
But the feature that really sold this watch was its crystal glass. Just about all watches at the time had perspex glasses even though the technology for toughened glass and even sapphire crystal had existed for decades.
Termed crystal, it was in fact toughened glass and the technology came from optical lenses (the name Crystal 7 comes from a type of borosilicate glass called BK7). It looked very sharp, was scratch resistant (much more so than perspex) and could be nicely fashioned.
The case was “waterproof”, the Citizen parashock system made it “shockproof” and most models came with an integrated metal bracelet. With the day displayed at 12 o’clock and the date at 3, this watch was quite distinctive and with beautifully polished index markers, hands and day/date window frames, it was a nice looking timepiece.
As far as market share went, there was a problem…..it was Japanese! At a time when Japanese products where not trusted, the average consumer would happily pay half as much again for a (often inferior) Swiss product.
But it was watches like this; attractive, reliable, accurate and feature packed, that brought the Swiss watch industry to its knees in less than two decades.