Citizen launched its flagship mechanical watch, the Caliber 0200, two years ago. Despite being better known for high-end quartz watches – including the most accurate ever – the Japanese watchmaker managed an impressively executed three-handed sports watch, with an equally outstanding new movement.
Now the model finally receives a mechanical upgrade with the Caliber 0210, which incorporates a date along with subtle improvements to the external design, while retaining the excellent case and bracelet that define the model.
The Caliber 0210 indicates the brand’s interest in further developing this excellent model – encouraging for fans of the model like myself. Despite the Caliber 0210 looking much like its predecessor, it is actually a substantially different watch in tangible terms. Ordinarily the addition of a date would be a no-no for a purist enthusiast, but here the date is integrated well in terms of dial proportions and (re)design.
The appealing attributes of the Caliber 0200, and now the Caliber 0210, clearly mark the two out as watches conceived for a niche audience, namely enthusiasts who appreciate quality – and are able to distinguish this from the competition (Grand Seiko to state the obvious). However, this target audience often prefers the purity of a three-hand watch without a date. At the same time, this audience comprehends the substantive upgrades in the Caliber 0210 beyond the date – amongst them the improved case construction and movement thinness – which should be persuasive.
While the addition of a date is not groundbreaking, it is still a mechanical rejuvenation of the cal. 0200, which had only seen case and dial iterations over the past two years. Notably, the date is integrated in a sophisticated manner with the movement height remaining unchanged, reflecting Citizen’s sophisticated approach to construction. The the cals. 0200 and 0210 are almost the same height; the cal. 0200 is 5 mm while the cal. 0210 is 5.3 mm.
More interesting is the revised case construction. The case is marginally taller, presumably to accommodate the date display, but also boasts substantially increased water resistance that doubles from 50 m for the Caliber 0200 to 100 m for the Caliber 0210.
All things considered, the Caliber 0210 is a superb watch that’s a sensible upgrade over its predecessor, particularly as a practical everyday-wear watch. As with the Caliber 0200, this has qualities that are tangible and all-encompassing. The entire package – case, dial, bracelet and of course, movement – is finished to a high degree.
At US$8,400, the Caliber 0210 is a steep 40% more over the Caliber 0200. Conversely, it can be said that the Caliber 0200 is a greater value proposition. Nevertheless, the Caliber 0210 is arguably as much of a value buy considering the upgrades in the movement and case, even if they are concealed behind a seemingly identical design.
Furthermore, it remains an intrinsically compelling watch at its price point, particularly when compared with alternatives in the integrated-bracelet sports watch segment, where it ranks as amongst the best value.
Notably, the Caliber 0210 will be available globally in two variants with black or white dials, while the Caliber 0200 was only released internationally with a black dial, while the white and blue dials were reserved for the Japanese market – likely a reflection of the model’s success.
Much like its predecessor, the Caliber 0210 is a sports watch in a minimalist style. Yet the design avoids being derivative – a trap that’s easy to fall into given a market saturated with integrated-bracelet sports watches.
At a glance, the Caliber 0210 appears virtually identical to the Caliber 0200, save for the date window at three o’clock. However, upon closer inspection, subtle tweaks can be found on the dial.
Some of the tweaks are substantial in a literal sense: the applied indices are now wider, a sensible adjustment that serves to counterbalance the date and its frame. The change is subtle enough that it is only apparent when comparing the old and new dials side by side. And it is also evident when comparing the watches that the broader indices make sense.
Another refinement are the double batons at 12 o’clock, which are now tapered to form a trapezoid. Personally, I find this an odd design tweak as the wider baton at nine o’clock remains rectangular.
The indices feature polished linear grooves along their length, a result of the diamond-tipped milling process of manufacturing. This reflects light at different angles, giving the indices a gem-like gleam. A similar graining is also visible on the applied brand name at 12 o’clock, which contrasts against the mirror-polished eagle insignia underneath.
The rest of the dial is identical to that in its predecessor, which is to say, excellent. The most prominent feature is the granular surface that’s achieved by electroforming – a process involving depositing metal particles on a metal surface – rather than the industry convention of stamping. The result is a finely and randomly textured surface that resembles a mineral stone.
Arguably, the black dial shows up the texture best as the surface sparkles slightly as it reflects light, creating contrast with the dark colour. The granular surface also leaves the dial looking relatively uniform while on the wrist, thus ensuring excellent legibility. The white dial, on the other hand, has less contrast, though it evokes the popular Grand Seiko “Snowflake” and will likely appeal to those who like finely grained, pale-coloured dials.
Standing apart from the granular surfaces is the subsidiary seconds at six o’clock. Appearing flat at a glance, the sub-dial is actually finished with a fine concentric circular graining that shimmers under the light. The fineness of the graining gives the seconds a jet black appearance that forms a stark contrast against the grained surface; perhaps a narrow border could have been installed to ease the transition between the two textures.
Improved case construction
Meanwhile, the case appears unchanged visually. It has an identical form with the same diameter of 40 mm. However, there is a tangible improvement – water resistance goes from 50 m to 100 m.
The case is a broad tonneau shape that’s simple in form but distinguished by its details. The case features proportionate facets and bevels and a mix of brushed and polished surfaces. There are noticeably long polished bevels on the flanks that sharply contrast against the brushed finishes on the top surfaces and sides.
Though the case diameter remains unchanged, there is an imperceptible increase in thickness of 0.3 mm, reflecting the new calibre. Even so, the Caliber 0210 is still only 11.2 mm tall and wears thinner than its measures thanks to the case construction that camouflages the height.
The camouflage comes courtesy of a combination of factors.
First, the bevels on the top and underside of the case reduces the tallness of its sides. The perception of thinness is further emphasised by the bezel, which is also bevelled with a polished rim.
And finally, the sapphire crystal stands over the bezel slightly to accommodate the central stack of hour and minute hands, reducing the bezel height.
As with its predecessor, the polished and brushed surfaces is done well, with a precision that punches above its price point. Observe especially the precision of the triangular facets of the case corners – bridging the brushed and polished planes of the case.
The excellent finishing also extends to the steel bracelet, which is also identical to that on its predecessor. Though the Caliber 0200 and 0210 are also available in versions on a leather strap, the bracelet is arguably a must.
The outer surfaces of the links are flat, with multiple facets between the connections that glimmer under the light. However, the inside surface of the links are subtly curved, to better conform to the wrist for comfort.
Perhaps the only nitpick is the bracelet would feel more refined and elaborate if its outer edges featured a slight bevel. That said, one could argue a polished edge on all the links would disrupt the clean lines of the design and take attention away from the case.
A more practical improvement would be the clasp, which would benefit from a quick-adjustment mechanism and also a design that blended in better with the angular links.
An excellent calibre revisited
When the Caliber 0200 debuted, it had a relatively thick base plate, a hint of Citizen’s plans to integrate complications into the movement, rather than build modules on top.
The logical evolution is the cal. 0210 that has recesses are machined into the thick base plate for the date mechanism. Because the main plate can accommodate practically everything, the date is integrated with a minor, 0.3 mm increase in the thickness.
While adding the date was not a difficult modification, a few technical limitations had to be worked around. Most notably, the date disc cannot encroach into the fourth wheel pinion at six o’clock that drives the subsidiary seconds.
Meanwhile on the rear of the movement, there is no change to the movement as seen through the display back. In other words, the going train, oscillator, and winding mechanism remained unchanged.
Keeping all of that is a good thing as the cal. 0200 is an impressive effort at a sophisticated but functional three-hand movement. (A more in-depth review of the base cal. 0200 can be found here.) The cal. 0200, and now the cal. 0210, was the result of a joint development – the movement was developed by Citizen, but its aesthetics and decoration were done with input from La Joux-Perret, the Swiss movement maker that Citizen acquired in 2012. Both the cals. 0200 and 0210 are manufactured by Citizen in Tokyo.
Equipped with a free-sprung balance running at 4 Hz, the cal. 0210 is a perfect movement for a sports watch. It has a good 60 hours of power reserve, though a longer power reserve of three days would have been useful.
The movement was designed from the ground up with a seconds at six o’clock – so the fourth wheel of the going train had to be where the seconds hand needed to be. This resulted in a going train layout resembling a traditional manual-wind movement, with the barrel at 12 o’clock and the gear train leading towards six.
Meanwhile, the remainder of the space within the movement is taken up by the tried-and-tested unidirectional winding mechanism adapted from past Citizen self-winding movements (which is also shared with the robust Miyota 82 series).
Thanks to the knowhow of La Joux-Perret, the movement is adorned with top-notch finishing, especially considering the price point. The combination of finishing creates an aesthetically pleasing movement that feels cohesive, despite the monochromatic colour scheme. Diamond-cut bevels, for instance, gleam in the light and contrast with the linear brushing on the tops of the bridges.
A detail uncommon in watches within this price range are the polished countersinks for the jewels and screw. More notable, the countersinks have a depth that matches the width of the bevelling on the bridges, reflecting an intense eye for detail amongst the constructors of the movement.
Equally impressive are the mirror-polished locating pins and undersides of screws – a detail usually only seen on higher-end movements – which create multiple mirrored domes around the movement that add a touch of refinement.
That said, there remain some criticisms carried over from the cal. 0200. Amongst them the tungsten rotor has raised borders with rounded corners that feel mismatched against the sharply defined bevels of the bridges underneath.
Additionally, the ratchet wheel of the mainspring barrel is finished with a radial graining that feels industrial, particularly when set next to the finely brushed bridges surrounding it.
The Citizen Caliber 0210 is a subtle upgrade to an already great watch. While the elevated price feels significant merely going by the addition of a date, the Caliber 0210 is more than that. The tweaks are mostly hidden, but arguably enhance its practicality and appearance, while the superior water resistance is a notable improvement. It still inherently a high quality offering and a value proposition that combines a class-leading case, dial, and movement.
And fans of the watch should take note, the movement design leaves open the possibility of other variants with additional complications.
Key facts and price
Citizen The Citizen Caliber 0210
Ref. NC1000-51E (black dial)
Ref. NC1001-58A (white dial)
Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 11.2 mm
Material: Stainless steel
Water resistance: 100 m
Movement: Caliber 0210
Features: Hours, minutes, seconds and date
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 60 hours
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
Limited edition: No
Availability: At Citizen boutiques and retailers
Price: US$8,400; or 11,500 Singapore dollars (all excluding taxes)
For more, visit Citizenwatch-global.com.
This was brought to you in partnership with Citizen.
Correction December 6, 2023: The cal. 0210 is 5.3 mm while the cal. 0200 is 5 mm. They are not the same thickness as stated in an earlier version of the story.
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