The Citizen Series 8 GMT is the best true GMT for under US$2,000Zach Blass
The sporty steel integrated bracelet watch is probably the most in-demand segment of watches today, and, from a complication standpoint, I would argue the GMT function is the most desired. But, true GMT watches with an independently adjustable hour hand can be costly – especially from Swiss manufactures. This is what makes the new Citizen Series 8 GMT such a compelling offering. This fully in-house watch from Japan offers up a sporty integrated-bracelet design, with an in-house true GMT movement that, at just US$1,695, costs half as much as a comparative Swiss GMT watch with the same build quality but different GMT functionality.
There are three stainless steel configurations to choose from, with one being a Batman-bezelled model with a textured black dial, and a limited edition gold-toned PVD steel model of the root beer bezel variety with a gold-hued textured dial. The model we have to showcase today is a regular-production steel model with a textured blue dial, and red and blue Pepsi-style bezel. The 41mm case, 13.5mm thick, leans into more of a tool-watch feel, with front-facing surfaces entirely vertically brushed. The only accents of polish are found on the metal frame of the bezel insert, bevelled edges of the case, and on the front of the porthole-ish fins of the case that extend slightly out on the 3 and 9 o’clock sides of the case. The glass-covered bezel insert gives the bezel aesthetic a classic feel, and for bezel nerds, the 48 clicks are nice and crisp, and feel great in the hand. It is worth noting though that while the case is 100 metres water-resistant, the crown is not screw-down. Not a huge deal, only mentioning it for the sticklers out there.
This particular Pepsi configuration has a dark, yet vibrant blue dial that is best understood in the metal, with a check-patterned texture inspired by Tokyo skyscrapers and their varying window sizes. What the texture ultimately offers through varying depths of the surface is elements of shadowing, as the dial changes orientation certain elements darken and brighten for a dynamic look. Applied indices surround the dial, each topped with a luminous box. At 3 o’clock, a date complication replaces the indices seen at the other hours, but it is still accompanied by a luminous box like the others. Ideally, the date would have been fully colour-matched, but such a detail can be forgiven at this price point, and the white-on-black disc still does a solid job of blending in. Of course, as a GMT, there are four central hands with bold and luminous hours and minutes hands accompanied by a non-luminous stick central seconds hand. The GMT hand has a floating effect due to its body being blue-coloured, and blending into the dial. At its tip, an orange arrow makes the indication easy to discern and it even uses orange-coloured luminous material, rather than the crisp white seen on the other indications.
Were the tapered integrated bracelet laid completely flat on a table, you would think it is entirely brushed. But, as you roll your wrist, you will see the articulating facets of the boxed centre-links are actually polished – introducing light play to the bracelet and reducing the likelihood of the polished surfaces getting scratched. There is also a fine and thin bevel to the shoulders of the links that continues the lines of polish introduced by the bevelled lugs of the case. The links are sized via pins and collars, and the bracelet is secured to the wrist with a twin-trigger folding clasp. Unfortunately, the clasp does not offer micro-adjustment, but two half-links are offered with the watch for finer sizing.
Exhibited inside is the in-house automatic true GMT 9054 movement. For those unaware, Miyota movements, which can be found in a wide array of watches from Kurono Tokyo to sharing the layout with La Joux-Perret movements, are made by Citizen. Citizen could have called it a day and used their Miyota 9075 movement, but instead developed this 9054 calibre that is exclusive to Citizen. It offers a heightened power reserve of 50 hours, enhanced resistance against magnetism up to 16,000 Amperes per metre (around 200 Gauss), and a slightly regulated +20/-10 seconds per day accuracy. To reiterate as well, this movement is a true or flyer GMT. Most GMTs at this price point would no independently adjustable local hours hand, instead opting for a GMT hand that can be jumped forward in hourly increments. With this less practical setup, both the local and second time zone hours would have to be adjusted upon arriving in a new time zone. In this true GMT functionality, the GMT hand can be left indicating the home hours and the local hours can be quickly adjusted without interrupting timekeeping.
While I cannot claim this is the least expensive true GMT watch from Japan, I would argue that from a quality to price ratio, this is the best. The fit and finish is excellent for the price point, the aesthetic is handsome – familiar, yet fresh – and functionally speaking perfect for any travel needs. I challenge any of you reading this to name a Swiss GMT watch that can compete with this Citizen Series 8 GMT from a fit, finish, and functionality standpoint at this price tier.
Citizen Series 8 GMT pricing and availability
The Citizen Series 8 GMT is available now for purchase. Price: starting at US$1,695
|Series 8 GMT
|41mm (D) x 13.5mm (T)
|Sapphire crystal front and exhibition caseback
|Integrated stainless steel bracelet
|Citizen 9054, in-house, automatic
|Hours, minutes, seconds, date, true GMT