A ground breaking day has occurred in watchmaking. On June 18th 2014, Citizen announced the introduction of a new collection in their stunning Campanola series. These new Campanola models will be the first to feature mechanical self-winding movements. Campanola Automatics are not the ground breaking news I was discussing. What is, is that the mechanical calibers featured in these two new pieces are actually manufactured in La Choux De Fonds, Switzerland and assembled in Japan! In March of 2012, Citizen Japan announced its purchase of the holding company Prothor, which owns the incredible Swiss movement manufacuture La Joux Perret. LJP produces parts, movements and complications for a huge list of watch companies such as Hublot, Panerai, Corum, Graham, Eberhard & Co. and many more. They are also renowned for their own brand, Arnold & Son. During the year of the 150th anniversary of Swiss – Japanese trade, Citizen has introduced the first true Swiss – Japanese hybrid.
In a day and age where movements are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain, watch companies need alternative movement manufactures in order to stop relying on Swatch Group owned ETA. Swatch Group has made it loud and clear over the years that they wish to reduce ( or more ultimately stop providing completely) ETA movements to companies outside of Swatch. One of the biggest hurdles in this is that ETA is the most commonly used movements in the Swiss watch industry. Sellita movements have become a great alternative to ETA for most watch brands, however, the one thing they still have to buy from Swatch is hairspring. The Swatch owned company Nivarox is the largest (near only) source right now for hairspring and there aren’t many other companies out there who provide it. Interestingly enough, other parts for Sellita are provided by La Joux Perret, and the tie with Citizen is where it gets really interesting. Citizen not only makes their own mechanical movements under the Miyota label in Japan, but they also manufacture their own hairspring. This could solve a lot of problems in the long run. Not only will there be options for using Citizen’s hairspring as an alternative to Nivarox, but I could also imagine that there will one day be technology for manufacturing the springs in Switzerland brought over from Citizen Japan. Basically, in my eyes, Citizen is pushing to prove they are tremendous competition for Swatch Group, which they truly are. It was over two years ago that Citizen not only obtained Prothor, but also loosely stated their plans to purchase other Swiss companies, challenge Swatch in a manufacturing sense, and to one day introduce a Swiss – Japanese hybrid.
To help elaborate on La Joux Perret’s manufacturing capabilities, it is important to discuss their brand & and Son. This is very innovative and highly skilled factory that manufactures these pieces. One of the most unique and interesting complications they have become renowned for is the True Beat (or Dead Beat) seconds hand. Essentially, this mechanical caliber is complex and a perfect example of Haute Horlogerie. The example above is A&S’s DSTB (Dial Side True Beat). This in-house self-winding caliber with 50 hour power reserve and rate of 28,800 bph does not express the typical 8 advancements of the second hand as most watches with this rate. Instead, the expression of seconds counting is done by having the second hand jump from second to second as you would see on a quartz, but is fully mechanical. The time (hours and minutes) is indicated at the small sub dial located in the 4-5:00 area, with the large True Beat seconds located between the 11-12:00 area. This truly impressive piece retails for around $50,000.
Another unique and impressive movement is their Time Pyramid movement. This skeletonized movement features twin barrels providing a 90 hour power reserve with dual power reserve display. The first barrel will basically wind the second, transferring the energy and showing so in the power reserve indicator. The gear train is formed in a pyramid shape, showing the balance at the very top, just under the 12:00. The Time Pyramid in steel is about $30,000 and about $40,000 in 18k red gold. Aside from these complications, they also make an array of tourbillons, double tourbillons, chronographs and more. The brand also has an incredibly rich history behind watchmaker John Arnold back in the 1700′s, and his good friend Abraham-Louis Breguet.
Getting back to the new Campanola Mechanical Collection, these new La Joux Perret movements are labeled as the Y513 caliber. These movements will feature self-winding plus hand winding, a 42 hour power reserve which is displayed at 6:00, a rate of 28,800 bph, 25 jewels and big date display at 12:00. There will be 2 models in the line up. The “old silver” dial on the NZ0000-58W with stainless steel case and bracelet and the black dialed NZ0000-07E on black crocodile leather. Both models will measure out at 42mm wide and 14mm thick (mostly due to the tremendously thick domed sapphire crystal with 99% clarity anti-reflective coating). The dials on these pieces will be extremely detailed and three dimensional. The process of electroforming is used in order to create the unique rippled and parchment paper look in each corresponding dial. The inspiration of “Space and above” is implemented on these dials, yet still feature a very classic look. The uniqueness of a Swiss manufactured movement assembled in Japan is reason enough to be intrigued by these timepieces, but the design will draw people in on its own. We are very excited to see this finally come to life as we have been anticipating it for nearly two years. We are sure this is not the last we will see of the new and unique relationship, and look forward to more compilations between 2 of the finest watch manufacturing countries, Switzerland and Japan.
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