Citizen Celebrates Its Centennial With One Helluva Partnership

The Citizen booth at last week’s Baselworld fair was not to be missed. It featured a mesmerizing installation by the Paris-based Japanese architect Tsuyoshi Tane, who strung 100,000 watch main plates from the ceiling and called them Light Is Time, an homage to the watchmaker’s signature light-powered Eco-Drive technology. Passersby stood mesmerized as the light shifted, glinting off the brass movements and suffusing the space with a warm, golden vibe.

It was an appropriately epic display for the brand, which celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2018 (complete with a commemorative anniversary collection including nine of its most popular models denoted by black and gold dial rings). Even more epic, however, was the announcement that days before the show Citizen was named the official timepiece of Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Marvel New Media’s Creative Space.

Citizen Promaster Land Eco-Drive Flyback Chronograph

ProMaster Land Eco-Drive Flyback Chronograph in 44.5 mm stainless steel case, $1,000;

“The idea behind this booth, behind Disney, behind the innovation in the product, is to stay two steps ahead of everybody in this industry,” Jeffrey Cohen, president of Citizen Watch America, told me when I sat down with him at the show. “We’re making sure that we’ll be perceived as a leader, not a follower, for the next 100 years.”

Jeffrey Cohen President Citizen Watch North America
Jeffrey Cohen, president of Citizen Watch North America

The 12-year agreement with Disney will see Citizen’s name emblazoned on the clocks stationed on both of the resorts’ Main Streets and its timepieces sold at gift shops at both parks. But that’s not all. The alliance also includes (for 2018) sponsorship of digital content on, including Marvel Minute, and a red carpet sponsorship of Avengers: Infinity War, a Marvel Studios film premiering this month.

I was surprised to learn that the deal with Citizen marks Disney’s first such agreement with a watch brand. Beyond the fact that both companies are global powerhouses with well-regarded businesses, what attracted the Mouse to the Tokyo-based watchmaker? I can’t help but think that Citizen’s inclusive-sounding name (not to mention reputation) played a part.

There’s also the fact—news to me—that Citizen never uses the word since in its advertising. “Since, since, since—it’s all the industry uses, but we don’t go there,” Cohen said. “We’re well positioned for the future.”

And what better way to ensure that than to capture young hearts and minds at the happiest place on earth? Well played, Citizen, well played.

(Top: Eco-Drive Bluetooth W770 in 48 mm titanium case, $930;

JCK Magazine Editor