A Tale of Citizen’s Big Cat Family


 

PART ONE

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Introduction:

Hello Vintage Citizen Fans World Wide  🙂

Thank you for visiting Stephen’s Citizen Blog. If this is your first time here, you will be pleased to find the finest (English language) archive of Vintage Citizen watch information on the internet today – at least in my opinion 😉

I have the honour to post a very interesting and rare collection of Citizen watches. What’s exciting is this collection is from some of my world wide customers who became friends, as well as my own.

I am fortunate to have handled, repaired and saved these watches for future generations. As gratitude, I would like to present to you a collection and archive of my work.

If you like Vintage Citizen Automatics, Cats, and Chronometers….you have come to the right place  🙂

Enjoy,

Brian Leiser “31”

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Here are the watches that I’ll be show casing:

(1) Citizen Leopard Highness 36,000: “Officially Certified Chronometer”
(2) Citizen Leopard 36,000: Oval with calendar at 3 o’clock
(3) Citizen Leopard Blue Dial 28,800: Dome Glass Restoration
(4) Citizen Leopard Green Dial 28,8000: Dome Glass Restoration
(5) Citizen Tiger XXX: Facet Glass Restoration with Bonus Tiger XXX Feature
(6) Citizen Black Cheetah Custom Automatic: Leopard Tribute
(7) Citizen Leopard 36,000: Oval with calendar at 6 o’clock

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The Citizen Leopard Highness 36000 Chronometer

Grail Watches:

“To some collectors, they can elude us for years. We wait, and sometimes we may never catch. With patience and persistence they can be found. Dreams do come true.”

Above Quote: “Brian Leiser”

Getting the opportunity in my watchmaking career to save and preserve wrist watches has led me down an interesting collecting path. Chronometer watches, other than brands like Rolex and Omega, have been on my radar since Mr. Netherwood sent me this one:

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The Citizen Leopard Highness 36000 Chronometer. It is a mouth full, with a lot of substance 🙂  ……..and the star of the show.

It is not known how many of these were produced or still exist, but one thing is for sure – it was a low number.

Chronometer movements are made when the machinery is at its finest. It’s a very limited run of movements with special serial numbers. Tolerances required to make a chronometer must be at their peak of perfection. Because of those reasons few people give these watches up.

There is quality at every angle. The dial with its textured glow, facet glass jewel like crystal and a special gold medallion machine cut, and fitted into the case back:

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I’m in awe of this watch when it gets to my shop, and I get to photograph it in its original unrestored form:

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Stephen and I had long transcontinental conversation on the proper way to preserve the originality of this watch. With our discussion, we agreed not to polish the watch case in any way. Collectors of fine watches are paying a premium for unrestored originals. Even automobile collectors are realising the trend, and I must say they are better to own because you can use it. Since this is such a rare watch, locating an original crystal may be impossible………….but…..

……hold on.

Before we can go any further, we have to get back into the time machine, and travel back 3 years to meet another Citizen Watch.

Let me introduce you to the Citizen Tiger XXX

The Citizen Tiger XXX

This was a watch I had bought 3 years ago. I wish I’d saved the sale picture because I didn’t know what a Citizen Tiger XXX was until I had received it.

tigerxxx

I thought the blue dial looked really cool, and I could see it was very very worn, but completely original and intact. I loved the facet crystal, and unlike the Chronometer, it is made of plexi (plastic) and not cut glass. What’s cool is the facets are on the inside of the crystal. This watch is what started me in collecting Citizen facet glass watches (more about facet glass here:http://forums.watchuseek.com/f21/citizen-8200-6500-auto-71-0474-61-6893-facet-glass-collection-service-restoration-31-jewels-967358.html)

I realised I had something pretty unique. Now I know of two watches Citizen made that are named after cats. I ask Stephen about the XXX watches and….. after a very interesting conversation, start looking for Citizen Leopards and Tigers to buy. Oh MY!

Later that night……… I google search Citizen Tiger XXX

Warning: If you google search Citizen XXX make sure your kids are not at your desk top!

I start to laugh when I get the search results. Could this be? Was I beholding some secret power only Citizen collectors knew? I had to get the restoration started to find out…..but before I do, let’s meet my first two Citizen 28,800 Leopards

Leopard 28,800 Faceted

Years ago, and even today for that matter, coloured dialled Leopards are pretty scarce. It took a very long time to find even these watches. Pickings are slim….even in the state of condition these two were in:

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I saw the blue dial and liked the sun baked colour, hell….. it looked really shot, but very very original. I had to have it. The green Leopard in the UFO alien head case looked to me like it would be a parts watch for what ever the blue one needed.

I liked the glow of the green Leopard’s dial. Especially with the gold hands and hour markers. Sadly, its destiny would be a parts watch  😦

At the time of purchase, I didn’t know what speeds these Leopards were. Citizen made Leopards in 28,800 (cal. 7210/7220/7420/7600/7710/7720/7760) and 36,000 (cal.7230/7430/7730) beats per hour [bph] calibres. Each has its own unique characteristics. I think you will find the movement part of all these watch restorations very interesting.

When the blue one arrived I was thrilled. 100% all original, dirty, beat to hell but running and fully functional. A very unique facet glass crystal. I can’t wait to get started 🙂  Can I even find an 8 sided facet crystal for a watch this rare?

If you have read my other restoration and service threads before, you know sometimes there is always a twist……follow the blog to see what happens…….were just getting started 🙂

Part 2:

The Leopard 36000: Once I had learned of the 36,000 (beats per hour) Leopard…I had to get one for my own collection. 36,000 watches of any kind are not something you can find these days for entry level collecting. Price points are high and to some degree they get a bad rap because of service intervals. They ‘run too fast’…’sling oil’, only a ‘five year service life’….I’ve heard it all. Lots of hogwash to a certain extent. I will go into more detail on that in the later movement parts of this thread.

Another cool thing about Leopards, is that you can find some with an actual picture of a running Leopard on the dial. I wanted a 36,000 with the cat on it….. and this one fit the bill: 045

I love buying original unrestored watches because in some cases they have not been messed with too badly. This one was in full working order when it arrived and I was quite happy with the previous owner.

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Note the original signed crown. Something you need to look at when purchasing certain Leopards. I can’t buy them NOS any more, and finding one is nearly impossible. The plan for this watch is a full restoration and……a serious precision timing test against the others:

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The Leopard ’12-6′: Another interesting version of the Leopard is what I call the 12-6. These models are using the same OEM Citizen crystal with calendars at the 6 o’clock position:

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These two Leopard 36,000’s are Sean Cody’s. Sean is a very good customer of mine with one the largest Leopard collections I know of. We had to sorta name the watches by the calendar locations because I had so many at the shop at one time. The Leopard above (mine) has the calendar at the 9-3 position.

Only the best one in the picture will be show cased. Wait till you see the cool dial under those scratched crystals.

The Black Cheetah: In my Citizen collecting quest, I fell upon this.

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I had no idea that Citizen made three models named after cats. I had never seen one before for sale. 19 Jewels? Hmmm. Looked like maybe a 6501 calibre based on the case back. But 19 Jewels? I know the Citizen 6001/6501 calibres were 17 and 21 Jewels. The seller had no movement pictures….so I pulled the trigger for $20 bucks.

Once I had received the watch, I ended up finding out that it was a cobbled glued together mess:

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So I started google searching…and contacted Stephen, and this is what he was able to tell me:

When I first came across the Black Cheetah it was something of a mystery, I even considered the possibility of it being a fake watch. But I found images of a few examples, which suggested it was more than that. Here are a couple of examples, with different dial styles, one of which has the additional moniker of ‘Manhattan’:

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They both have the same kind of case back, and are marked ‘HMC’:

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What is most intriguing though is the movement – a 19 jewel hand-winder, with day and date complications. Only one other Citizen hand-winding movement has both day and date, and that is the 4000 – which is the manual base movement for the 41xx Jet automatics. This made me wonder whether this slightly later movement – probably from the very late 1960s / early 1970s – was a similar thing. I managed to find images of the movement:

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I came to the conclusion that this calibre is the base for the 6001/6501 automatic movements – 6001 being date only, 6501 being day and date, and with a unique jewel count of 19. Here is a schematic of the automatic version, which appears to match the design of the hand-winder shown above:

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Finally, I was intrigued by the ‘HMC’ engraving – my best (well only!) guess is that this may indicate that these watches were made in Citizen’s Korean factory, which was called the Hanmi Citizen Precision Industry. This was established in South Korea, in the early 1970s to make watch cases.

So, it turns out…..the Black Cheetah is a 19 Jewel manual wind watch. The only thing that was original to the watch was the dial and hands. So..it’s time for a complete custom watch. As you can see in the pictures, I have a much nicer case with a movement holder, and some really sweet 6501’s in stock. I’m going to build a professional, custom tribute to the Citizen Cat family. What makes it possible? Because the manual wind is the base calibre for the 6001/6501 series automatics. Stay Tuned 🙂

 

 

 

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