The Citizen Series 8 880, a new mechanical GMT

“We want novelty,” the standard watch appreciator proclaims. “We want to be taken seriously! We love our hobby and adore innovation! Give us something new!”

It’s a fair request, frequently ignored by the powers that be in the watchmaking industry, simply because novelty, as much as it may be theoretically desired, is harder to sell than the commercially proven ideas of others, tastefully repackaged and priced aggressively enough to send shivers down the collective spine of the well-known hype brands used to milking this particular cash cow dry.

And you know the best thing about being offered more of what we thought we’d have enough of? We clearly haven’t had enough of it. Not by a long shot.

When I opened the press release for these new Citizen models, I — and I am certainly no Citizen fan-boy — felt my eyes widening. My first thought? Rolex GMT Master II. My second? Why is this more interesting to me than any GMT Master II release of the past six years? The answer appears to be that while Citizen is clearly calling back to the Crown’s most popular nicknamed models (the Pepsi, the Batman, and the Root Beer), there are enough very marked differences in these designs for even a seasoned watch lover to feel like they’re seeing something for the very first time. And that’s always a great feeling.

Citizen Series 8/880 Mechanical in blue and black bezel “Batman” (reference NB6031-56E)
Citizen Series 8/880 Mechanical in blue and black bezel “Batman” (reference NB6031-56E)

The Low-Down

These new CITIZEN Series 8 880 Mechanical models are the first of the Series 8 collection to feature a GMT complication. If the Series 8 hasn’t popped up on your radar before, its tagline (which appears as the first line on Citizen’s dedicated landing page for the collection) is, “Simple. Contemporary. Stripped down. Unpretentious.”

Originally launched in 2008 for the Japanese market, Citizen rolled out the collection into international markets just a couple of years ago. Why it took so long to bring what is clearly capable of being a modern flagship model for the brand to the masses is a bit of a mystery, but when it finally landed, it was rightfully well-received.

The standard models feature a dynamic case shape, a handsome integral (but not integrated) bracelet, and automatic movements. While models such as the ultra-modern 870 (40.8mm by 10.9mm) and the sleek 831 (40mm by 10.1mm) provided a solid base for the launch, it was the 830, with its engaging dial design that perhaps set most hearts a flutter. At 40mm wide and 11.7mm thick, the 830 was the chunkiest of the bunch, but its layered dial with its iridescent blue/purple background, topped by an edgy black web snared the headlines. It was truly something that put the Citizen Series 8 automatics firmly in the conversation for one of the best budget steel sports watches available today.

Citizen Series 8 GMT

Now, we’re treated to the first complicated models, and they do not disappoint. With eye-catching textured dials (one-piece this time) inspired by the colors of the fall in Japan, the three new references are welcome additions to the lineup.

The new models are a touch bigger than their less complicated predecessors, coming in at 41mm across and standing 13.5mm on the wrist. While the larger diameter will help negate the increase in height, expect these models to offer a considerably prouder wearing experience. Generally speaking, however, one would expect a GMT to have an altogether sportier vibe than core collection models that tend to place a premium on versatility.

The new Series 8 880 GMT automatics are powered by the self-winding Caliber 9054 (which can also be manually wound, for any long-time fans of Japanese watches that remember the days of automatic-only movements being commonplace). The 9054 is accurate to +20/-10 seconds per day (so way outside of COSC’s +6/-4 specifications) with a 50-hour power reserve and a 28,800vph operating frequency (4Hz). The GMT hand can be set independently of the hour hand, meaning these 880 Mechanical watches are able to show the time in three time zones simultaneously.

IMHO

The aesthetic inspiration is as woolly as we’ve come to expect from Japanese makers. The press release of the 1,300-piece limited edition golden-colored “Root Beer” (reference NB6032-53P) variant claims that the frosted dial “calls to mind the patterns of light and shade created by long autumn grasses illuminated by the warm glow of sunset.”

Citizen Series 8/880 Mechanical limited edition golden-colored “Root Beer” (reference NB6032-53P)
Citizen Series 8/880 Mechanical limited edition golden-colored “Root Beer” (reference NB6032-53P)

Meanwhile, the more geometric patterns of the blue and black bezel “Batman” (reference NB6031-56E) and the red and blue bezel “Pepsi” (reference NB6030-59L), are “inspired by the skyline of Tokyo at night with its countless skyscrapers and windows of different sizes, creating a modern twist on traditional check patterns long used in Japan to represent prosperity.”

You can take those descriptions as you will. Such flowery language used to annoy me, but, in all honesty, I’ve grown to relish every new release from this part of the world for the smile the press material brings to my face. It shouldn’t detract from the watches, because, regardless of their aesthetic inspiration, they’ve ended up very easy on the eye.

Considering the measurements, the movement specifications, and the 100m water resistance, these are solid daily beaters. They won’t trouble the record books with their timekeeping abilities or inspire a new way of thinking design-wise, but they are good-looking additions to a line that was sorely in need of a bit more vibrancy.

Tech Specs

Citizen Series 8/880 Mechanical

Movement: Cal.9054
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, and GMT function
Case: 41mm x 13.5mm stainless steel cases (reference NB6032-53P is gold-plated)
Dial: Blue (NB6030-59L), Black (NB6031-56E), or frosted straw (NB6032-53P)
Strap: Metal bracelet
Price: USD 1,695 (NB6030-59L and NB6031-56E), and USD 1,795 (NB6032-53P)
Availability: NB6032-53P limited to 1,300 pieces worldwide

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