Citizen must have known they were on to a winner with the Ana-Digi-Temp watch, since they made a variety of flavours of it – including the 8980, 8982, 8984, 8986 and 8988 – along with this version, the 8981.
Sharing much in common with the 8980, including the temperature sensor on the front glass rather than on the case, the 8981 is hard to find – and especially difficult to find in good condition as the PVD-coated bezel is often scratched or missing, and the circuitboard suffers more than most if old batteries have leaked inside it.
Still, if you wait long enough, you can generally find what you’re looking for and such was the case with this 8981 which came from Japan having had very little use, but unfortunately an old and long leaked battery also came with it.
I was lucky enough to have a spare circuitboard for this one and, a full analog service later, it was ready to roll.
Unfortunately it didn’t come with a bracelet, so I found a rubber strap that was an excellent fit and blended with the look of the watch perfectly.
Having tracked down an original bracelet from a collector in the US, I’ve been waiting for that to arrive, but in the meantime found another on a different Citizen which is correct for the model.
So it definitely looked the part and is now all original.
Except I preferred it with the rubber strap.
I don’t think it ever came with a rubber strap (at least not in any catalogues or online photos I’ve seen) but personally I think this is a better combination — at least it feels more comfortable to wear.
Straps and bracelets are very much a personal choice and while collectors, like myself, will look long and hard to find the correct bracelet for a watch we restore, the fact that so many old watches have the (awful!) generic stretchy bracelets on them indicates most people didn’t care that much for originality.
So while I’ll never sell the original bracelet for this watch, while I’m wearing it it will have the rubber strap instead!