If you keep up on watch news, you’ve probably heard about this one: a tourbillon, made in Japan by Citizen, in a 42mm white gold case. This latest from Citizen is certainly not a sign of any dramatic shift in the company’s overall direction (at least, I don’t think it is), but it’s an intriguing development nonetheless. According to Citizen, the movement was originally introduced in Tokyo in 2014, although the first wider news that Citizen was getting into the tourbillon game was broken by SJX.
Technically, the movement looks to be essentially traditional in all respects. The tourbillon cage sits under a bridge (in other words, it’s a non-flying tourbillon), and there’s a lateral lever escapement, plus a flat balance spring. The balance has four arms and Gyromax-type eccentric weights for fine regulation.
As you probably know, Citizen has been on a bit of a shopping spree over the last few years, and owns a number of luxury and entry-level luxury brands in addition to watches made under the Citizen name. Citizen is famous for its light-powered Eco-Drive watches, which come in an enormous variety of styles and prices (and which also includes the ultra-high accuracy Chronomaster, rated to ± 5 seconds per year) but in 2012, it acquired Manufacture La Joux Perret and Arnold & Son, and in 2016 it acquired the Frederique Constant Group, which includes Ateliers de Monaco as well as Frederique Constant and Alpina. Citizen also owns Bulova, as well as movement maker Miyota. The tourbillon movement used here shares a frequency with tourbillons built around Nivarox components (21,600 vph) but it doesn’t have any specific design features in common with Arnold & Son tourbillons, in which the balance is not on the same axis as the carriage (that is, caroussel tourbillons).
Certainly, it’s not surprising that a firm with the resources Citizen has, is capable of making a tourbillon but it is interesting that it has chosen to introduce a tourbillon under its own brand. Of course this means that theoretically, Citizen could supply its own tourbillon movement to other manufacturers, as well as use the design for one or more of the brands it owns. It also means that there are now two very big Japanese watch companies that are in the tourbillon game – the other, of course, being Seiko, which introduced its first tourbillon movement in the Fugaku Tourbillon.
For now, however, there is no indication that Citizen means this to be more than a statement of capability. Only two of the Y01 Tourbillons will be made, and they’re being sold at the Tokyo branch of the Daimaru department store chain. Pricing is ¥10,000,000, plus tax, which is about $91,000 at the current rate. Whether Citizen means the movement to be more than a curiosity remains to be seen, but it seems unlikely it would have gone to the trouble to prototype and manufacture a movement if it didn’t have bigger plans for it. We’ll just have to wait and see.
The Citizen Y01 Tourbillon: case, 42mm white gold; dial, cloisonné enamel. Movement, Citizen tourbillon caliber Y01, lateral lever configuration, running at 21,600 vph. 100-hour power reserve. Available only at Daimaru Tokyo. See the listing for the Y01 Tourbillon in Daimaru’s luxury watch boutique right here.