Some 40 years ago, as the 1960's drew to a close, the development of Citizen's automatic wrist watches was reaching its peak, in terms of both range and quality. Around the middle of that decade the company switched from it's geared 'jet' rotor design to the more reliable and widely used oscillating weight type, and the late '60's saw the launch of the Chrono Master high grade automatic alongside a range of other new models.
In 1969 Citizen launched the evocatively named Leopard line, based on the 7200 calibre. Although this movement was used in other models, the Leopards were distinguished by one key characteristic not to be found in the others – they were all high-beat, running at either 28,800 beats per hour (bph) or 36,000bph.
These were Citizen's first watches to run at these speeds, reflecting the quality and reliability they could achieve by that time. These fine movements also all feature a micro adjuster on the balance to assist with accurate regulation. In a relatively short space of time the Leopard line offered an extensive range of watches, with different jeweling, styles and price points, and can perhaps be best described as 'upper mid' to 'high' grade pieces.
Besides the high-beat common denominator, the Leopards are also characterized by their jewel counts, which are always even numbers – i.e. 28, 26, 24, and later in the production run, 22. Other models using the same base movement usually carry odd number jewel counts, for example the Custom V2 and Seven Star V2, with jewel counts of 25, 23, and 21 (the only exception to this I can identify is calibre 7790, running at 21,600bph with 22, 24 and 26 jewels).
The production run of the Leopards was short-lived – just as the development of mechanical watches was reaching new heights, the introduction of the much more accurate and soon the much cheaper quartz module in the early to mid-1970's brought that development to a halt. The latest Leopard movements entered the market in 1971, just two years after the first model was introduced