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Citizen launched its Homer series – like this full serviced mid-1980's Citizen Homer Second Setting here, issued by the Japanese National Railway (JNR) in 1985 – in 1960 and produced it through circa mid-1980s.

 

Of historical note, the Second Setting variant was officially issued by JNR to their staff in the 1960s and 1970s, and – per our research – unlikely to anyone else, public included.  Although its well known Seiko pocket watches dominated the notoriously punctual railways in Japan, Citizen owned the 1960s and 1970s in this aspect.  The example for sale here bears an insciption that states the watch was issued by the JNR in the year Showa 60 (1985), the 44th issued that year.

 

But back to the JNR!  In 1906, the JNR – Kokuyū Tetsudō (state-owned railway, or Japanese Government Railways) – was founded by the Japanese Government via the nationalization of 17 private companies, with the Ministry of Railways and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications taking control of the network subsequently.

 

During WWII, many rail lines would be dismantled for their steel, in support of the war effort.  In mid-1949, by U.S. General Headquarters, Tokyo order, the JGR was reorganized into the JNR as s a public corporation.  The JNR would go from strength to strength in the years that followed, to include the inauguration of high-speed lines

 

The JNR was not state-run, and had independent accounting from the Japanese Government national budget.  It began to falter, however, in the early 1980’s, bogged down by rural sections without enough passengers to remain viable – the JNR would begin to close nearly 100 unprofitable local lines in 1983.  It wasn’t enough – by 1987, JNR’s debt was over ¥27 trillion ($442 billion at 2021 exchange rates).  The JNR would again be privatized in the late 1980’s and re-named the Japan Railways Group (or JR Group), with its remaining debt transferred to the national budget's general accounting. 

 

In modern times, JR Group has rid itself of the serious management inefficiencies, profit losses, and fraud that plagued the JNR - it runs over 20 thousand kilomters of tracks, and some bullet trains - the world's fastest - travel at rates nearly 400 km/h.  Seems like these bullet trains would make a great backdrop for a good film, no?  Maybe staring Brad Pitt, known for wearing other vintage Citizen?

 

Unsurprisingly, simplicity reigns in the design of this watch, along with its “second setting” feature (more commonly called hacking), a feature not normally found on other Citizen Homers.  The hacking feature – predominant in military-issued watches – allows the watch to be synchronized, no doubt a requirement on the famously reliable and punctual Japanese railway network. 

 

The white dial has quite clear and legible numbers, with lumed hands and pips outside the hour markers – all allow the watch to be read easily, as designed.  More impressive, the Calibre 911 movement Citizen used in these were the same base movement that powered the Citizen Chrono Master, which was basically Citizen’s response to Seiko’s King Seiko and Grand Seiko.

 

The impressive Citizen Second Setting hasn't escaped notice - noted Fratello Seiko and Citizen guru Michael Stockton notes, "If I were to tell you that there exists a prevalent vintage 36mm stainless steel watch with an in-house manual winding movement, a hacking feature, a wonderfully simple dial sans date, you’d probably point me towards any number of Swiss brands ranging from Patek Philippe, Longines, and even Omega." 

 

"But if I told you it was an officially issued watch, I’d bet that number would drop considerably...you’d probably tell me to lay off the hard stuff.  I’ll keep drinking my beer and bourbon – thank you very much, but I do have the suggestion for you: the Citizen Homer Second Setting."

 

This Citizen Homer comes on a leather strap, and with a nylon strap, rugged travel case, and springbar tool.

Japanese National Railroad 1985 Citizen Homer Second Setting Mechanical

$499.99Price
  • DIAL: White ceramic dial, with printed black Arabic numbers and delightful cursive script - all writing remains crisp and fully legible.  The dial is simple and sparse, reminiscent of the IWC Portugese watch.

     

    CASE: Stainless-steel case measures 37mm x 44mm, with matching caseback.  Caseback engravings signify this Second Setting as issued by the Japanese National Railway in the year Showa 60 (1985), the 44th issued that year - and one of the last made for the JNR.

     

    CRYSTAL: Domed acrylic crystal, with no cracks or deep scratches. 

     

    BAND: This Second Setting comes on a light brown leather strap; it also comes with a dark blue, orange, and white nylon strap.

     

    MOVEMENT: Citizen Calibre 911 manual winding movement, 21-jewels; hacking feature works as designed.  The 911 is a clo