The beautiful challenge of ethical watch CITIZEN L


“GINZA×CSR” Vol. 37 will introduce Citizen Watch Co., Ltd. Under the corporate philosophy of “loved by citizens, working for citizens,” Citizen released CITIZEN L, a line of watches with an ethical concept, in Japan in 2016, thus creating a new value as a sustainable brand. We interviewed Ms. Yuka Suzuki from Citizen Watch’s Public Relations Division about the how CITIZEN L was developed, customer response and future plans.

Focusing on “inner beauty”

  • ─ Please tell us why you decided to develop CITIZEN L with an ethical philosophy.
  • CITIZEN L was first launched overseas in 2012. Its initial concept was “Beauty is Beauty” but when we returned to the basics and asked ourselves, “What is true beauty?” “What does a truly beautiful person look like?” we reached the idea of “inner beauty.” This was in around 2014.

    The development of the product began with the idea of making a watch with “inner beauty.” It was a time before the SDGs were promoted and we lacked sufficient knowledge of “sustainability” and “ethicalness.” Therefore, everything was a new challenge for us.
  • ─ How did you convince the company in a time when market recognition of sustainability and ethicalness was still low?
  • For a long time, Citizen has sold watches with Eco-Drive, a photovoltaic technology, that do not require battery replacement. Therefore, the idea of reducing environmental burden pervaded he company. However, it was also a time when watches were sold for their functions; and therefore, everyone in our company thought that it would never sell.

    Then, the designer of the watch was granted an opportunity to meet a board director in person. The board member displayed an understanding for the idea, saying, “This is exactly what Citizen should be doing today.” Hence, an unprecedented cross-section project was launched.

    Since a watch is made from many different components, we were faced with unprecedented challenges, including securing safe materials for all components and declaring that we did not use controversial minerals. WWe had conversation after conversation and gave briefings to other sections, thus overcoming each challenge one at a time.

    A team of mostly female employees joined forces in a persistent effort to convince management.

Sustainable packaging

エシカルをコンセプトとした腕時計「CITIZEN L(シチズン エル)」

CITIZEN L, a watch with an ethical concept

Brave is Beautiful – after making a courageous choice

  • ─ That said, did you not face any difficulties in explaining to your customers the “ethical” concept which had yet to gain wide public recognition?
  • As a guideline, we flagged the concept “Brave is Beautiful.”

    Learning what “ethicalness” stands for is equivalent to learning about the social issues lying behind the manufacturing of a product. This requires much courage. We believed that such mindsets fostered beauty. For Citizen, the CITIZEN L project was a decision requiring courage.

    To be honest, there was a time at the beginning when we received little response from the market. However, we did not give up, thinking that “the time will definitely come.” I felt this become reality in 2019. With a wider understanding of the SDGs and the involvement of various fashion brands in promoting sustainability, I felt a change in the mindset of consumers.

    Particularly from around then, we have been asked by our customers to exhibit evidence of our commitment to disclosing the raw materials used in our products and our CO2 emissions, as well as to being DRC conflict-free.

    *Reference site: Why is CITIZEN L a sustainable watch?
  • ─ In April 2019, you hosted an event commemorating the launch of your social responsibility campaign “New TiMe, New Me” in Ginza.
  • It is Citizen’s first social responsibility campaign, launched with the thought: “It may just be one small thing, but your choices can make the world a happier place.”

    We call out that “even a small choice at the beginning may change the world just a little,” seeking to let people know that our daily actions, including the small choices made in consumption and in our daily lives, lead to achieving the SDGs. We hope to be a driver of small changes in the world.

    In addition to communicating Citizen’s efforts, we sought to offer momentum for consumers to acknowledge social good. To this end, we invited celebrities as guest speakers in talk sessions on social good and had people write down “My SDG – what I can start today” to paste on the “SDG tree” at the venue. We campaigned to raise awareness that will lead to action.

    I was surprised to learn that our customers were highly conscious of these issues. We were encouraged to launch a similar campaign not only for women’s products but for those of men. We also received an unexpected number of advice from our colleagues.
  • ─ In 2019, celebratingg the 101th anniversary of founding, Citizen declared that it would pursue sustainable business management. What are your future plans?
  • We have launched a Sustainability Team with members representing each section to discuss concrete measure that Citizen should take in the future.

    Citizen’s corporate philosophy is: “loved by citizens, working for citizens.” How we can work for citizens will change with the times. By always being responsive to new demands, we hope that those who do not purchase our products today may someday come to think that “a Citizen is the watch to buy.”
シチズン初のソーシャルキャンペーン「New TiMe, New Me」では、シチズンのSDGs達成に向けての取り組みを紹介したほか、SDGsに自分らしく取り組めるきっかけを見つけるワークショップを開催

In the company’s social responsibility campaign “New TiMe, New Me,” Citizen introduced its efforts towards achieving the SDGs and hosted a workshop for discovering personalized ways to engage in actions aimed at achieving the SDGs.


People joining the event posted “My SDG – what I can start today” on the “SDGs tree.”

Delivering the wind of the future from Ginza

  • ─ Before we end, please share your thoughts about Ginza.
  • Ginza is a district where many people have cultural, creative and international minds. These are the kind of people who are highly concerned about sustainability. I sense a lot of potential in Ginza.

    Through our flagship store in Ginza, I hope that we can not only sell our products but also communicate Citizen’s determination and ideas about sustainability, and walk hand in hand with our customers towards realizing a sustainable world.
銀座にある旗艦店「CITIZEN FLAGSHIP STORE TOKYO(シチズン フラッグシップストア 東京)」




鈴木 由佳

Yuka Suzuki

Joined Citizen Watch Co., Ltd. in 2005
With experience in domestic sales and marketing, and product planning, currently works in advertisement. A member of the CITIZEN L project team since 2014.
今井 麻希子

Makiko Imai

alterna http://www.alterna.co.jp Having worked for several foreign IT firms, Imai shifted the target of her work to environmental and social issues after participating in the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity as an NGO member. She currently conducts interviews, edits and writes articles, develops educational programs and offers interactive counselling sessions.

Written by: Makiko Imai/ Planned and edited by: alterna

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