Why Are Citizen Watches So Affordable? -A Complete Breakdown

Citizen is one of the better-known Japanese watch brands, sitting amongst the likes of Seiko. But price-wise, Citizen watches tend to be relatively affordable. Why’s that?

Citizen keeps their prices low by streamlining the manufacturing process and by using affordable yet qualitative materials. They have positioned themselves as a fantastic watch brand that offers incredible value for money.

Over the years, Citizen has positioned itself as an excellent watchmaker, showing that a lower price does not mean worse quality. In this article, we’ll cover why Citizen manages to keep its prices so low but manages to keep the quality so high.

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Why Are Citizen Watches So Affordable?

When it comes to pricing a watch, there are a few factors that you need to keep in mind. These all affect the retail price. Of course, there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes, but here are some of the more important factors that influence the retail price!

The Manufacturing Process

Unlike luxury watch brands, where a watchmaking expert assembles every watch by hand, a Citizen watch is mass-produced.

In fact, it was their automated assembly line that actually threatened Swiss watchmaking back in 1970. It was that efficient.

Nowadays, the assembly line has been upgraded and optimized, leading to massive production rates. To put things in perspective, it is estimated that Citizen sells 200 million watches annually.

This is also partly why Citizen watches are so cheap; they are mass-manufactured, which means two things:

  • There’s a high volume of Citizen watches in the market, which means they are not scarce or rare. This is where the laws of supply and demand come into play.
  • The assembly line is so well-optimized that it can cut down on a lot of the manufacturing costs.

However, it should be noted that some Citizen watches are hand-assembled. We’ll talk more about those Citizen watches a little later in the article, but these watches are assembled by so-called Meisters and Super Meisters.

Naturally, the costs for these hand-assembled watches will be much higher, as there are many more man-hours in play.

The Materials Used

The materials used to make a watch are some of the most important parts of a watch. No matter how expensive or inexpensive a watch is, if it’s made with poor materials, the watch will also be poor.

Luckily, Citizen is known for using high-quality materials. Great-quality stainless steel alloys, a mineral or sapphire crystal to cover the watch’s face, and high-quality leather bands.

Aside from stainless steel, Citizen also uses titanium for their watches. They call it their ‘Super Titanium’, which is optimized for maximum comfort.

Despite using all these great-quality materials, Citizen still manages to keep their prices relatively low.

The Brand’s Name

The brand’s name doesn’t necessarily influence the price of the watch, but it does show you how the brand wants to position itself. Citizen definitely has the know-how to create high-end, luxurious timepieces, but they position themselves in the more affordable watch market.

This is Citizen’s area of expertise, and that’s reflected in the retail prices we see. We all know Citizen for the great watchmaker it is, but we also associate it with more affordable watches.

A Lower Markup

This last one is relatively minor compared to the other factors, but it is important to mention.

The cost of a watch is largely influenced by the materials and manufacturing process, but after that, the brand is free to add however large of a profit margin as they see fit. Most brands are fairly realistic with this margin, but others are… not.

This is often seen with brands that want to appear as luxury brands. They just add a tremendous markup, increasing the retail price without any real justification. Most just do it because they can.

Citizen isn’t in that boat. They price their watches fairly and refrain from adding a couple of hundred dollars on top for no reason.

Not All Citizen Watches Are Affordable

While most Citizen watches are relatively affordable, it is important to note that Citizen offers many different watch models, coming in many different price ranges.

While we’re most familiar with the Citizen watches that cost a couple of hundred dollars, Citizen also offers some much more expensive timepieces.

These more expensive models typically include more expensive materials (such as gold and titanium) and complications (chronograph and perpetual calendars), or are simply limited editions or scarcely produced models.

Take the Citizen Caliber 0100, for example. Only 500 of these watches have ever been produced, and they were sold for a grand total of $7400 per watch. It’s the most expensive Citizen watch produced, but it is a true piece of craftsmanship.

Made with titanium and covered by a sapphire crystal glass face, this watch looks stunning. On top of that, its time deviation is only 1 second annually. Yes, only 1 second a year. That’s just insane.

Other examples of expensive Citizen watches are:

  • Satellite Wave GPS F950 – $5000
  • Hakuto-R – $4000
  • Nissan Fairlady Z – $2500

Ultimately, there are only 7 Citizen watches that will cost more than $2000, but we shouldn’t ignore them. These timepieces show the true capabilities of Citizen.

Are Citizen Watches Worth The Money?

Citizen offers incredible value for your money. Their watches are high-quality, durable, accurate, and reliable. Their watches are also very affordable, making them more than worth the money. They also offer a wide variety of watches, ensuring that there’s always one that you like.

Whether or not a watch is worth the money mainly comes down to your personal preference. If you don’t like the watch or are not sure whether it’s the right purchase, it may not be worth it to you.

But speaking purely from a qualitative standpoint, Citizen offers some of the best value watches that money can buy.

It’s also important to say that Citizen is an actual watchmaker. It’s no fashion watch brand. It’s an actual watchmaker with a rich history and a lot of knowledge and craftsmanship behind it.

Their watches are assembled nicely, work perfectly, and are often quite innovative (looking at you, Eco Drives). And all of that comes for a price that’s almost too good to be true.

Granted, a Citizen watch will still run you a couple of hundred dollars, but compared to what other brands are asking for similar quality watches, a Citizen is a steal.

I’m speaking in relative terms here, of course. There’s no shame in finding a Citizen watch a little expensive either. After all, it’s still a couple of hundred dollars. We wrote an entire article on how much you should spend on a watch, which you can read here, which may be able to help you identify the right budget for your timepiece.

But overall, I feel confident in saying that a Citizen watch is most definitely worth the money!


Jasper has always been a fan of watches. But when he took on a project of restoring a nearly 30-year-old timepiece, he was hooked. Throughout the years, he has learned a lot about horology and shared his passion on Watches of Today!

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