During the formative years of the portable watch, water resistance was considered a luxury that was reserved for special tool watches. Even when it did come of age, it was confined to Swiss watchmakers for a good part of the 20th century. It was not until 1959 that Japan was introduced to its first local water-resistant timepiece when the Citizen Parawater debuted.
The construction was deceptively simple — a series of rubber O-ring gaskets were used to seal the caseback, crown and tube — yet it worked wonders. The Parawater was rated water-resistant to 50 metres. In 2020, as part of Citizen’s Asia Limited Series, the firm launched the Citizen Kuroshio ‘64 that pays tribute to the pioneering spirit of the Parawater. The new series of watches are all tool watches that look very much like dress watches. It also looked quite similar back at launch, but more on that later.
Back then, in its quest to further develop and test the Parawater, Citizen embarked on a series of unorthodox product tests as part of a study into ocean currents. The research was conducted by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology. One of these tests was the 1964 Kuroshio test, which explains the current name.
Some 47 bright yellow buoys were dropped in the Sanin Sea, where the Kuroshio current flows; within each buoy was a Citizen Parawater and instructions to contact Citizen when found. The public was incentivised to take part in the survey by being able to keep the watch. When discovered, the watches were in working condition.
The execution and styling of the Citizen Kuroshio ‘64 follows design cues from the original Parawater. The case and lug shapes are retained, though the diameter has been increased to 41mm to fit current tastes. Other details that are preserved include the arrowhead hour markers, dauphine hands and domed crystals as well as the original 50m water-resistance. Luminous paint is applied to the hands and hour pips to aid low-light readability.
The affinity between the Citizen Kuroshio ‘64 and the ocean is further emphasised with a subtle dial embossing of wave patterns and various dial colours depicting different sea conditions — dark blue, black, dark green, beige and silver white. The dark blue, silver and white, and black Kuroshio ‘64 variants come paired with steel bracelets while the beige and dark green models feature leather straps. The dark blue edition is limited to 1959 pieces in honour of the original Citizen Parawater.
Still craving for more content after reading about the new Bell & Ross BR05 Chrono? Click here to catch up with our October 2020 issue!