Review of Citizen Signature Series Grand Classic Automatic

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Model # NB0040-58E
Brand/Model:  Citizen Signature Series Grand Classic Automatic
Movement:  Japanese automatic
Material:  stainless steel case and bracelet
Complications: date display
Price:  MSRP $999 USD



Plenty of photos follow the review.  Click on the pictures to enlarge.
Every now and then, I get the itch to explore the high end offerings of the Japanese watch brands like Seiko and Citizen.  For quite some time, Citizen did not have a high end automatic in their U.S. lineup.  Most of their high end pieces consist of Eco-Drive quartz or high accuracy quartz models, so I was pleasantly surprised and pleased when as part of their new Signature Series that Citizen included three automatic models on their high end available in the states.  
The Signature Series are watches that display a high degree of detail and hand-craftsmanship, whether they be quartz or automatic.  The Grand Classic automatic that is the subject of this review comes in three flavors, the black dial seen here, a silver/white dial with blue hands and a silver dial with silver hands on a leather strap.  I chose the black dial because it is the most traditional and is a versatile piece that can play the dual roles of sporty and dressy.
The Grand Classic automatic starts with a nicely finished all stainless steel case that is both polished and brushed, with a polished fixed bezel.  Diameter is 41.5mm without the crown, 44.5 mm crown included.  
The crown is a suitable size and tapers inwards slightly towards the case, a subtle but nifty touch.  The crown does not screw down nor is it signed.  I really enjoy signed crowns and I would think that because this is the high end of Citizen’s line that they would have taken the extra time to install a signed crown on this watch, but unfortunately, they did not.  
Surrounding the crown is a slightly chunky crown guard that is held in place by two rather large screws, the heads of which are clearly visible.  This design element seems a bit out of character on this watch, as while it has sporting pretensions, it leans more towards the dress side of things.
The case back is a display type and is held in place by four small screws, one at each corner.  The display back shows some nice detailing and shows off the beautifully decorated automatic movement.  Case thickness is 12.1mm and lug width is 22mm.  The overall case design and dial are somewhat reminiscent of an Omega Aqua Terra.
The Grand Classic automatic is factory rated at 10 bar of water resistance.
The dial on the Grand Classic has the kind of subtle detailing that befits a watch of this price category.  The dial is a gloss black, with the outer portion having a fine graining to it that runs from the chapter ring to just past the applied luminous markers.  The circular inner part of the dial is plain gloss black.  The silver hands have inset lume, while the seconds hand is a plain silver stick with a stylized tail.  Lume quality is very good and glows the cool Citizen blue.
The quickset date resides at the three position and is surrounded by an asymmetrical window frame that adds a bit of additional style to the dial.  The date wheel is white on black and compliments the dial perfectly.  Wheel alignment within the window is fine.
A slightly domed anti-reflective sapphire crystal covers the dial.  Under examination with an 8X loupe, the dial showed no dirt or imperfections.  Overall fit and finish on the Grand Classic is quite good.
Inside the Grand Classic beats a Citizen/Miyota Caliber 9010 24-jewel automatic movement.   One of Citizen’s newest automatic movements, this engine hacks and handwinds.  Timekeeping has been fairly tight, at -5/24 hours and with a good power reserve of 45.5 hours.  The movement sets, hacks and handwinds perfectly.  I particularly appreciate the level of finishing Citizen invested in this movement, with Geneva stripes and a very cool stylized rotor on display through the caseback.
While the watch is made in Japan, the bracelet is made in China, as stated on the clasp.   Nonetheless, the bracelet is a quality piece with solid end links, multipiece solid links that are polished and brushed and a pushbutton signed clasp with a machined deployant.  If I had any complaints, the feel of the clasp seems a bit cheap.  Link adjustment is via screw pins and bracelet adjustment was a breeze. 
The bracelet measures 22mm at the lugs and tapers to 19.9mm at the clasp.  There are no microadjustments on the clasp, but a half-link is provided, so a decent bracelet fit should be able to be achieved.
Presentation is fairly typical Citizen, with appropriately sized inner and outer presentation boxes, et al.  The inner box is a dark blue padded leather-look box which is pretty nice.  One might expect something a bit more special due to the Signature Series standing at the top of the Citizen line, but this is a minor quibble.
The big question here is:  Is this watch worth the almost one-thousand dollar suggested retail price?  Well, it’s no Grand Seiko, but Grand Seikos go for three to four times the MSRP of this Citizen.  If you’re looking for a high-end Japanese automatic that looks good and will undoubtedly be a reliable and durable timepiece, then yes, it’s worth the price of admission.
Pros:  quality at the high end of Citizen’s line, nicely decorated automatic movement, clean dial layout, cool blue lume
Cons:  dial a bit hard to read at times, clasp a bit cheap, crown should be signed
Verdict:  a worthy addition to the Citizen lineup, the Grand Classic automatic is a perfect piece if you want a high-end automatic Japanese watch without spending Grand Seiko money
Thanks for reading and enjoy the pictures.
Excelsior!
-Marc


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