Citizen chronometer 31

Citizen chronometer

SONY DSCIn 1953 the Rhythm watch and clock company became an affiliate of Citizen, and although they continued to make watches using Citizen movements, their primary business was making clocks. I thought it would be good to have this part of Citizen’s heritage represented in my collection (especially after a drop or two of wine!) so this week a large box arrived from Japan…..

This is a wall clock with a thirty day mechanism, striking on the hour and half hour, and featuring date and day wheels. Although I’ve seen few Rhythm clocks like this for sale, similar Seiko, some Aichi Tokei Denki and one two other makes can be found, most of which are in brown wood cases with patterned glass in front of the pendulum. So I was pleased that my Rhythm example is in black wood with plain glass, and although clearly vintage, it has a design that goes well with modern décor, at least in my opinion anyway😉 As far as I know it was made in the mid to late 1960s.

I’ve mounted the old printed paper instructions for setting the day and date on a piece of card, which you can see in the pendulum box. The method is the same as with a watch, so the day is set first, then the date can be moved forward. The date is reset at the end of each month (it will move to 32 if not reset). The right winder is for the clock spring, and the left for the striking spring. Hopefully it needs winding just once a month, and the power window is neat feature.

The red button is a marker for where the pendulum should hang when centred, and there a couple of adjusters in the lower part of the case, which can be turned to move the case away from the wall to help get it vertical. The strike gives a pleasant and not too loud ring, so it can be left running and striking without disturbing the rest of the house.

Historically this type of wall clock has not been common in the UK, and more recent (non-Japanese) versions have a poor reputation with clock repairers who regard them as being of poor quality, using inferior metals etc. I think it’s important not to tar Rhythm and other Japanese makers with the same brush, particularly for their 1960s/70s offerings where I have only found good reports about them and their reliability and accuracy.

SONY DSCAlthough it is early days, my Rhythm ‘Three Star’ is keeping excellent time, without any regulation on my part. Not bad for (US) (+ a lot of shipping!)

This week’s watch might be called a Leopard that has lost its spots I came across this model for the first time recently, case number 4-722132, with 26 jewels, from August 1971:

Although the 7200 movement with 26 jewels runs at 21, 600 beats per hour (bph), the 7210 variant runs at 28, 800 bph and is one of the Leopard family. I noticed that this example had a fine adjuster on the balance, a clear sign of a high beat movement. However, with no Leopard, ‘Superbeat’ or 28, 800 logo on the dial I was intrigued – in fact for another reason which I’ll come to shortly I was doubly intrigued. On arrival I quickly found 7210 stamped on the movement, so confirmed it’s the high beat version:

Before buying I had of course wondered if it may be a so-called ‘franken’ watch, i.e using parts from different models. But I was able to find a couple of other examples of this watch, both with the exact same markings, and also without any of the usual Leopard’s markings. I could also see that the same dial code was evident, and one that is appropriate for a 72 model – 6-724850. So I am happy that this is a genuine model, and the first ‘Leopard’ that I have found without its ‘spots’.

The other feature that intrigued me is the bezel material, indicated by the case back code:

SONY DSCI have seen ‘BLTI’ before, i.e on a black coated case, but not ‘SSTI’. See my example here:

I’ve been working on Citizen’s case material codes lately, and although these ‘TI’ codes are unfortunately notable by their absence, Citizen used Titanium Carbide (TiC) and Titanium Nitride (TiN) so could this bezel be TiC (as opposed to TiN which is gold coloured)? But it now gets a bit more complicated! On other, slightly later models, Citizen used UHA (TiC) and UHAG (TiN) for their carbide cases and bezels, whilst I’ve seen some descriptions of TI bezels as tungsten carbide, hence my description of the BLTI model as tungsten. My titanium (not carbide) cased X8 Chronometer is marked TN….It’s possible therefore that Citizen used tungsten carbide at first, using TI as the material code (for a reason that is somewhat lost on me!) and then adopted UHA for their Titanium Carbide models. I noticed on another example of this watch that the bezel was chipped on one side. Although tungsten carbide is very hard, it is relatively brittle, so that damage lends some additional credibility to it being that material, perhaps replaced later by titanium carbide as a better option. Any thoughts/more information is very welcome!!

Whatever the exact material of the bezel, from a cosmetic point of view it has an attractive grey appearance and certainly shows little or no signs of wear:

All in all this is an interesting watch, with a good quality movement and an unusual case material and bezel combination.

I’m after a favour Does anyone have an account with Rudolf Flume Technik in Germany? I’m looking for a crystal they stock but a business account is needed…

Any help would be very much appreciated.

……vintage Citizen watch parts are often hard to find, so finding hen’s teeth can sometimes seem more likely! Many can be just about impossible to find, and this is something that puts collectors off since repair of worn out or damaged watches can simply be a non-starter.

Occasionally though, and completely unexpectedly, parts do turn up.

I have a fairly rare Seven Star Yacht Custom with a poor dial, which I did not think I could improve. I thought I’d have to buy another example in better condition. But last week I spotted a dial for sale on eBay – original dials are very rare anyway, but to find one for a Yacht Custom was a complete surprise. So I snapped it up and it arrived, from Brazil, today. Although this is not the correct box for this dial it’s always nice to get some of Citizen’s original packaging:

Now, technically this is not quite the correct part, since Citizen made this model with both the 52 and the 72 movements inside. The latter has a frame round the day/date window, whilst the 52 does not. So I’ll keep the old dial, but fit the new one since it makes the watch so much more wearable. Now I just need a new crystal for it…….

I finally feel confident enough to publish a reference page on the standards Citizen used for their mechanical and electro-mechanical chronometers in the 1960s and 1970s. After a fair bit of research I think I’ve reached the right conclusions, but I welcome any comments / observations especially if there’s anything you think I have missed or got wrong!

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