The January 2011 issue of International Watch had a feature article on repeater watches. They were, with one exception, mechanical watches, and of course as this is a serious complication, the entry level prices were considerable.
Most of the big names in horology were represented, and the prices ranged from $48,000 for a Perrelet 5-minute repeater to $639,000 for a Vacheron Constantin Calibre 2755 which also features a tourbillion, though some watches had no price or were POA.
My first choice would be the F.P.Journe Répétition Souveraine, a beautifully slim and elegant timepiece, unusually in stainless steel, as Journe believes stainless steel is the best conductor of sound and a natural choice when making a chiming watch. No price is mentioned for this masterpiece.
My second choice would be the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Minute Repeater at $193,300.
To come back down to earth for a moment, the only quartz watch in the article was the Campanola Minute Repeater made by Citizen as one of their high-end and affordable watches. At a retail price of $3,900 it was by far the cheapest of the watches mentioned.
The Campanola is not available in Australia, though it can be purchased in the USA or of course in Japan.
Citizen does however, have another minute repeater watch which is available in Australia.
This is the Calibre 9000. It was and still is, available here, even though it has been discontinued by Citizen, who are no longer manufacturing it. It is available in several different variants at a price of around AUD$750, though it has been discounted at various times.
It is one of Citizen’s Eco-Drive watches, and so requires no battery. When fully charged by light falling on the dial, it has a power reserve of 270 days. Provided that you don’t shut it up in a box for a long time, it will keep going without any assistance, given occasional access to light.
The following shows the white dial version which comes with a black leather strap which looks like croco but is probably not at the price. It has a deployant clasp with a press button release. The case is 42mm in diameter and is 14mm thick.
Purchased new it has a 5 year warranty.
I should mention that it also a perpetual calendar with a dual time function and two alarms. There is also a date display.
The case is solid 316L stainless steel and the crystal is mineral with a very slight dome profile which is anti-glare treated.
The hands are a lozenge shape, solid black in outline and lume filled. They have excellent visibility at night but of course it’s hardly necessary, as it is a minute repeater and the time is chimed out by pressing the button at 2 o’clock, so even if you can’t see, it will tell you the time.
There is a variant with a black dial and a stainless steel bracelet, again with a deployant clasp:
Also, there is a third version which is gold-cased stainless steel and has a dark brown leather croco-like strap:
There are several other variants but as far as I am aware, these three were the only models brought to Australia by Citizen for sale here.
There was a gold-cased limited edition in a special presentation box which was available in the USA but this was never sold in Australia.
In my opinion they are attractive watches and represent great value for money if you want a minute repeater and don’t have the dosh for a mechanical version, or even if you have the dosh, perhaps not the desire to fork out an amount which would put a decent deposit on an apartment in Sydney.
I have to say they are difficult to set, and in fact impossible to set without following the very clear instructions in the manual. The setting method is not intuitive but once set they will keep going provided you let them “see the light” occasionally.
Okay, they’re quartz and not mechanical, and the CEO of Citizen has not personally listened to and checked out the quality of the gong, like Thierry Stern does with the Patek Philippe repeaters, but they are great value and for the average collector, may represent the only opportunity to have the joy of owning a minute repeater without the pain of parting with a large sum of money.