This Week’s Featured Watch #73 – the Leopard Chronometer

The very early 1970s marked what was probably the peak of Citizen’s mechanical watch production, and their ‘Leopard’ line offered a range of quality models, all high beat, and (for mechanicals) capable of very accurate time-keeping. Often marked ‘superbeat’ the Leopards ran at either 28,800 beats per hour, with 22, 24 or 26 jewels, or at 36,000 beats per hour with 28, 31 or 32 jewels.

At the top of the Leopard tree is the Chronometer, tuned to Citizen’s ‘official’ certification, with a 36,000 bph movement of course and initially with 28 jewels. I’ve also seen examples with either 31 or 32 jewels, which may have been sold in export markets rather than in Japan.

Although part of the Leopard family, i.e. using the same movements, the Chronometer is graced with its own unique dial logo and a case back medallion in an Art Deco style:

SONY DSC

My example features smart black hands with open centres over a brushed dial, and is marked as an officially certified chronometer. The beat rate is marked under the applied logo. On some models the dial is marked ‘Super Beat 10’ (i.e. 10 beats per second). Two movement versions were used, this is the 72 with date and day, the other is the 74 with date only. The gold medallion on the case back is surrounded by typical markings – this one shows production in May 1970 and a case number of 4-720300:

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The medallion is not perfect, and although hard to see, there is a spot on the dial. The seller of this one also described some sort of auto winding problem, so I got this one cheaply (for one of these!).

The crown has the older style ‘C’ signature, and is a good size for winding – these hand wind of course – and they ‘hack’, i.e. the watch is stopped when the crown is fully out so that the time can be set precisely (see top pic). Date is quick-set, with the day set by winding back and forth at 12 o’clock:

SONY DSC

The ‘Leopard’ Chronometer  had only a short production, and they are a sought after model. I believe they were replaced with the ‘Highness’ models which, although still very desirable watches, don’t quite have the same special character:

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I’m holding back on movement shots in this post because my Chronometer has been to see Brian aka 31 Jewels for a full service and to resolve the problem – and it was a significant one! His work on it will be featured later on his restoration pages.

It is running perfectly now, and is a pleasure to own and wear 🙂

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12 Responses to This Week’s Featured Watch #73 – the Leopard Chronometer

  1. Marko says:

    Hi Stephen!

    What a beauty! Would be a pleasure to own one… :D. I wonder what that serial number actually means? Is it really so, that these have been made over 20.000 pieces in that particular year and month ???? If it is so, then the overall production have been quite many pieces?

    i was about to write a comment to your last post,#72 Super Deluxe, but i´m such a busy now, so i´ll do it later!

    Marko

    • sweephand says:

      Hi Marko – thanks for your comments. And an interesting question about the serial number. I’m not sure we fully understand the system, beyond the production date. I’ve had a look at my files and a quick look on the internet and the Chronometers like mine all have a 20000+ number. A gold one has a 30,000+ number. Only one very rare variant in a silver case has a low number – 00011. Although this could simply mean many more steel and gold plated models were made, it seems odd that I couldn’t find any like mine with lower numbers. So more research needed methinks 🙂

  2. Koimaster says:

    Good read. Posted a link to this at my forum

  3. Mikko says:

    Stephen, Excellent post and beatiful watch. I would also like to own own one of these some day.

  4. yu ronald says:

    DearSir,

    wish to know if GN 3-5 4-740041Y uses the same case as GN3-5 4 720261Y. They are both high beat chronometer. Thanks.

    Ronald

    從我的 iPhone 傳送

    > Sweephands Vintage Citizen Watch Blog 於 2016年2月17日 上午5:47 寫道: > > >

    • sweephand says:

      Hi Ronald – thanks for visiting my blog. A different case number would normally suggest that the cases are different, although these two look very much alike. One supplier lists two different part numbers for the crystals which also suggests they may have slight differences.
      Stephen

  5. Lovely watch Stephen. Is that a linen dial that I spy? Nice, but simpler gold medallion compared to the Chrono Master as well.

    • sweephand says:

      I’d describe the dial as being finely brushed in one direction – so not quite a linen finish I guess. The medallion is unique to this model, so is interesting for that alone.

      Stephen

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