I first discovered the true depth and value of Japanese horology after 14 years collecting Swiss, and only Swiss, watches. As many of you who have been in that situation before would recall, it was a big wake-up call and a challenge to everything I thought I knew and understood at the time. Now in my third decade of being a watch enthusiast, Citizen has been a permanent mainstay in my box, and a Citizen of some type has always been part of my weekly rotation. Over the last decade, I have owned a large number of Citizen, ranging from early-1970s 0200 Manual-wind and Leopard 28800s to modern Cal 2100 Mecaquartz and Eco-Zilla Ti.
(Reviewed on 1/14/2017)
What drew me to Citizen was their sheer ability (both movement and case technology)—but one that is paired with humbleness, devoid of boastful pretension—genuine honest value, and accessibility. As a Manufacture, their integrity can be felt through their products, and though I have a preference for traditional mechanical watches, I admire their relentless focus on using the latest technology to optimizing timekeeping, whether it be quartz or Eco-Drive—the latter undoubtedly the heart and soul of modern Citizen.
A decade ago, I had a different set of eye balls… not literally speaking, and but does feel that way. If I were to somehow peer into the case back of this Citizen NJ0070-53E, which I would like to be the first to nickname the “Alpine Explorer”, I would dismiss what I see as being just a plain run-of-the-mill Citizen Miyota 8200 Series—nothing special, nor desirable. I merely saw what it was, and not how it fits into the grand scale of things not only to Citizen, but to the entire watch industry. I lacked the understanding and reverence of this mechanical caliber, now in its 42nd year of continuous production—probably the longest movement production run among all current watch calibers.
First introduced in 1975, the modern Citizen 82xx is virtually unchanged from its original design, a testament to the level of engineering at the time in perfectly balancing performance, precision, and durability with economy of production. The 8200, of which the NJ0070-53E’s Cal 8210 is a family member of, is a living horological history. One that has not only served Citizen well, but brought life to many small independent brands that many enthusiasts love. Even the ubiquitous Swiss ETA 2824-2, released in 1982, has years to catch up to the service history of this humble 8210.
For many, it is relatively easy to admire the horological prowess of vintage Citizen high-grade calibers, such as those powering the Leopards, or the pure magic found in mechanical Grand Seiko. It takes a greater effort, only achieved by some, to appreciate a robust well-engineered workhorse movement like the Citizen 8200 series. So, despite the fact that I really do prefer watches with a solid, non-exhibition case back, every time I look inside the case of my “Alpine Explorer”, I am proud to own a Citizen Automatic 8210. While there are now newer alternatives in the form of the new Cal 4150, which I believe to be a rework of the 82xx with improved aesthetics on the movement (and does look very nice), the good old 8210 has solid, basic, and honest vibe to it that, for me, reflects a lot of Citizen’s values.
For those who have not experience mechanical Citizen in this price range, the quality of material and assembly is “very good”, comparable to say, a Seiko SKX diver, i.e. not perfect and unbeatable for the price. I name this watch the “Alpine Explorer” as I believe both the design influence and the spirit that this timepiece embodies are those of outdoor high-resistance watches like the original 1970s Rolex Explorer and Seiko Alpinist. The dial has an Explorer air to it, while the internal rotating chapter ring echoes those of the Alpinist 2nd Generation onward. Water-resistance of 100 m is the same as specified for the 70s Rolex Explorer.
While the role of watches like the Explorer and the Alpinist is now carried out by even tougher dive watches, the romanticism of the gene is undeniable, and in this respect, the Citizen Alpine Explorer is no less of a watch. Unlike Seiko 5, which constantly reminds you of its value-range status, this Citizen spares you from cost-saving things like mineral glass and folded-steel link bracelets. Made in Japan, the Alpine Explorer features sapphire crystal and solid links bracelet, though the latter is merely okay in quality and construction—still very much a bonus at this price, IMO.
Although the specification states a case diameter of 43 mm, it is around 45 mm with the crown guards, but excluding the crown. The piece does wear large due to its all-dial nature, though still very comfortable on my 18.3 cm wrist. I find it to be the perfect watch for a casual Friday at the office—restrained enough to wear under a shirt cuff and bold enough to wear with a T-shirt—or perhaps a weekend watch that works well in most situations. The icing on the cake is the relative rarity of the Alpine Explorer, surprising many watch enthusiasts who had not known of its existence.
In conclusion, if you are considering purchasing a gents or sports watch from the likes of Certina, Hamilton, Tissot or even Seiko Cal 4R36 range, I would very much recommend looking into this NJ0070-53E “Alpine Explorer”.
I've been searching for a nice daily watch for quite sometime now. After long hours of careful research, I decided that I really wanted an automatic watch, with sapphire glass, stainless steel bracelet, and a classy black dial.
(Reviewed on 8/29/2016)
At some point, I came upon the DutyFreeIsland website. At first, the super-small prices and Hong-Kong location made me a bit suspicious. However, after reading some of the numerous reviews on Ebay/Trustpilot, inspecting their Facebook page, and chatting with Kevin, I concluded they're a serious business.
I order the watch through PayPal, in order to have a bit more peace of mind and security. After confirming the order, DFI kept in touch, by sending updates and the tracking number for my watch.
I received the Citizen watch in 12 calendar days with DFI’s Tax-Free Expedited Shipping (From HK to Bucharest, Romania). I also didn't pay any VAT or customs fees. The watch came in the standard Citizen box, which was bubble-wrapped in standard packaging. Unfortunately, the watch box was a tiny bit pushed in and damaged, but the watch was in perfect condition, neatly wrapped in protective plastic.
I am extremely pleased with my new watch! I find the black simple dial quite elegant, and the splash of blue makes it just a tiny bit more sporty. I would say it works very well with smart casual and business outfits. I also really enjoy that it matches my wedding ring very nicely.
To conclude, I am very happy with my purchase. The watch exceeded my expectations and will be worn daily for a long time.