Citizen 8970 ‘Mickey’

Citizen 8970 ‘Mickey’

Citizen made a number of amazing multi-function analog-digital watches in the 1980s.

Among these, the ana-digi-temp models, the ‘robot’ model, and this – the rare and sought-after 8970 ‘Mickey’ watch.

It’s nicknamed the Mickey due to the bezel that sits around the analog dial and two top digital dials which bears a striking resemblance to Disney’s tri-circle graphic depicting their famous mouse.

I don’t know how many of these they made but they are very hard to come by and almost always have LCD bleeding, partly due to the way they were designed and people working on them who don’t read the technical manual first.

Removing parts in the wrong order, or without the right tools, can easily damage the watch. The LCD is a single piece, with a hold in the middle for the analog section to go through, and removing the hands roughly with too much pressure on the LCD can cause it to crack.

Worse, still, often any new old stock replacements that might surface on eBay from watchmaker’s shop and estate sales have bleed as well. And, just like Citizen’s other watches of this style, battery corrosion can eat away the very fine traces on the circuitboard that sometimes cannot be repaired.

So with all this knowledge onboard, it’s very exciting to find one in working condition. Unfortunately I didn’t – here’s how my two 8970s came to me:

Patience is a virtue (and sometimes a necessity) when repairing/restoring old watches. After hunting for a long time on eBay and other sources all over the world, I was able to assemble enough pieces to restore these two watches.

And here they are – what a nice pair!

Features of the watch are 12/24-hour time, date, alarm (with animation), stopwatch, hourly chime, countdown timer, and analog time.

Overall, though, it’s the look of this watch that really sets it apart. Impractical in that the small dials are really too small to read at a glance, but it fits a lot into a small form factor and no one did this better than Citizen in the 1980s.

It’s a blast from the past and while they’re rare, they are only going to get rarer. If you get the chance to buy one – do; it might be the last one you see!

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4 Responses to Citizen 8970 ‘Mickey’

  1. I like your article on this watch. I also have one of these watches (in silver) that I bought new in the late 1980’s. Unfortunately the crystal broke a about 20 years years ago and so I removed the battery and put it in storage. A few months ago I tried to source a new crystal for it and found they are no longer made. As I like to ‘tinker’ with watches I made a new one and replaced the old. Must admit I now tend to wear this one more often than my others. Although the calendar when setting the year only goes up to 2019.

  2. I have one of these. I would love to have if repaired but I’m hopeless at if. If someone could help me please.

  3. Excellent info, thanks!
    I didn’t know that Mickey even existed, until today when I stumbled over one for 60€. It seems to work fine but is just dirty and the gold has started to wear off. I’m even scared to open it for a battery replacement. You wouldn’t want to service it for me?

    • I’ve seen the one you are looking at buying. It might be a bargain or absolute junk. First have the seller confirm that the analog works – if it doesn’t a service might fix it, or you might be searching forever for a replacement coil.

      Next is LCD bleed. Those black dots look like that are on the reflector not the LCD, but the two upper circles (Mickey’s ears, if you will) should not be black in timer/chrono mode. If they are, the LCD has bleed and again, replacements are *very* hard to find.

      Check the alarm sound works. In normal timekeeping mode pressing the top and bottom buttons on the right make Mickey’s ears cycle to show the segments, and also makes the alarm beep (also switches between 12/24 hour time). If no sound it might not be the end of the world (could be a coil spring or replacement speaker needed, but could also need a new upconverter which is worse).

      If you get it serviced, make sure whoever does it knows what they are doing. If you use hand levers the LCD will crack instantly and it’s toast.

      I’m in NZ as you might have guessed so wouldn’t recommend sending it to me for servicing due to the potential impact of unpressurised air travel on 40+ year old LCDs. If you are near the US or UK there will be someone who can service it, check the Facebook group.

      If it works, a clean and a new back reflector will do wonders for it and will be a great watch to have/wear. It’s an uncommon watch, too, so if all is good with it consider having it replated as well and it will look the bomb for years to come!

      Good luck.

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