Review: the new Citizen Series 8 880 GMT

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Citizen has released a new mechanical watch in their modestly priced range – the Series 8 with a GMT function. We had the watch on hand for a week and here is our comprehensive review.

Review: the new Citizen Series 8 880 GMT

The Citizen Series 8 GMT Ref. NB6031-56E has a retail price of SGD 2,322 inclusive of GST / USD 1,695.

Citizen introduced their Series 8 in 2021, and it took us almost by surprise at how good it was. Especially at this very modest price point. We wrote our first comprehensive review of the Model 830 not long after the global launch, and followed up with the 870. We have also covered the 870 Anniversary Model with the carbon dial.

The Series 8 880 is available as three versions. The Ref. NB6031-56E as reviewed with a black and blue bezel on a black textured dial, a Ref. NB6030-59L in a blue and red bezel with a blue textured dial, and the Ref. NB6032-53P with a gold case finish (PVD) on the case and bracelet and a brown and beige bezel with a ecru textured dial.

The case, dial and hands

The Series 8 are remarkable watches. Well conceived and superbly built. The attention to detail to the case, dial, bracelet is excellent. Citizen gets just about everything right. The design. The build. The finish. All beyond reproach. They recently expanded the Series 8 with the 880, now with GMT, and the first in the collection to feature this complication. We are letting the cat out of the bag by revealing early in this review that the Series 8 880 is no different from her predecessors. It is every bit as impressive. So impressive, that we included it in our 6 for 6: 6 for 6: best picks for six new watches on a SGD 6k budget, even though you can buy 2 (almost 3!) of the 880 for the budget with a good chunk of change.

The case follows the curved angular design of the rest of the Series 8 watches, following in broad strokes the blueprint offered by The Citizen Mechanical flagship. However, instead of a case middle which is an octagonal shape with a flat upper surface, it is features subtle concave and convex curves on the octagon sides, and looks less angular than the Mechanical flagship or the earlier 830 and 870 models. The case features mirror finishes and brushed finishes in juxtaposition to each other. The facets form clean, straight lines, and is quite eye catching. A bi-directional rotating bezel in two colours to denote day and night gives the 880 the ability to provide up to three timezones. The bracelet tapers away from the case gently. The watch as we reviewed it with bracelet feels quite substantial with a nice heft to it.

The dial features a pattern inspired by the Tokyo skyline at night. The check is somewhat similar to the stripes on the amenities pack that JAL gives out on Business Class flights, and is a modern interpretation of the traditional Japanese check patterns. The stripes are within windows of different sizes, and is reminiscent to the skyscrapers with their windows of different sizes.

We find the pattern to provide a nice texture to the black dial. The other elements on the dial is very cleanly laid out. The hour markers are chunky appliqué inserts. The facets are brushed finished. The even hours have a double bar design with a groove in the middle of the appliqué in a contrasting matte grained finish. The odd hours are single bars. Both style of indices are faceted. Just outer of the hour markers are the white printed line marks for the minutes with the 5 minute intervals denoted by a rectangle filled with lume. The hour and minute hands are large spearhead shapes, with a large central section with SuperLuminova infill. The seconds hand is long and slender with a significant counterweight, and the GMT hand is in black with an orange triangle tip.

The overall design blueprint for GMT is very similar to that set out by Rolex in their GMT-Master series, with the review model slightly resembling the “Batman”. The basic layout is a large 24 hour bezel marked in two tones to denote day and night, over a dial with high legible time telling elements, and an additional GMT hand. This is a time and tested design layout, and as a result, the legibility is excellent. We somehow neglected to photograph the lume, but the dial is clear and both the local time and GMT (or second) timezone is easy to read in both good and poor lighting conditions.

The movement

Unlike the 830 and 870 with closed case backs, the 880 features an open case back. The movement is based on the same Cal. 905 in the other models, but now with added GMT functionality. The movement has a run time of approx 50 hours with a beat frequency of 28,800 bph. Average accuracy is claimed at -10/+20s a day. But we found the review watch to handily beat this specification. We did not measure the rate, but found it in day to day use for the 8 day review loan period to be sufficiently accurate not to be bothered.

The Cal. 9054 has antimagnetic properties. The Citizen literature claims that it is resistant to maintain accuracy by reducing the effects of magnetic fields produced by smartphones and tablets in our digital society. But they do not quote the actual technical specification of the antimagnetic property. Added on Sept 21: Citizen wrote and told us that the 880 is a “second-class” antimagnetic watch, which is defined by the Japanese Industrial Standard JIS B7024 and clears the JIS guarantee level of 16,000 A/m. 

Movement finishing is judged through the sapphire glass on the case back, and is finished to a high engineering standard. Knowing the Citizen engineering philosophy, we are certain that it will function flawlessly for years to come. In terms of decoration, it features little extraneous decoration, but is perhaps better finished than most watches in this price range. An appropriate comparison will probably be with the ubiquitous ETA or Sellita movements. And in this visual inspection, the Citizen’s finishing comes up as more pleasing to the eye.

Competitive landscape

As a sporty watch in steel with an integrated bracelet and a water resistance of 100m, with GMT it is somewhat in the genre of the proverbial stainless steel luxury sports watch. However, at a price point of about SGD 2.3k, it significantly undercuts all the inhabitants in that arena. Add to that, the very nicely built and finished case and bracelet with the aesthetically engaging dial, this Citizen Series 8 880 screams excellent value.

We might refer you to the Competitive Landscape section on the Comprehensive Hands-on Review of the Model 830, though the 830 and its landscape are devoid of watches with GMT or 3 timezone capability. If the Tissot PRX Powermatic 80 had GMT or the ability for 3, or even 2 timezones, it would be a nice handy comparison. But it does not.

Even the Ochs and Junior Ore Due, well known for its value for money, is more than double the asking price of the 880, at CHF 3.5k (about SGD 5.2k).

Concluding thoughts

We continue to stand by what we said in the review of the Model 830 and 870. The 880 is a remarkable watch. Well conceived and superbly built. The attention to detail to the case, dial, bracelet is excellent. The pricing is very fair. The asking price of SGD 2.3k is a particularly sweet entry level positioning.

And again, Citizen sets a benchmark of what a good mid level mechanical GMT watch should be. Citizen gets just about everything right. The design. The build. The finish. All beyond reproach.

Additional information can be found at the Citizen Series 8 GMT micro-site.