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The sound of a bell
has a special place in life. At one time it is both soothing for the inner
soul and gathering our attention. Surely we have all experienced the power
of a bell, true and clean and peaceful. So it is that Credor (a branch of
the SEIKO watch company) brings us their Spring Drive Sonnerie.
The name Credor comes from two French words, “cret” meaning top and “d’or” meaning gold. I suppose “Crest of Gold” would be a good translation. By the way, for simplicity purposes I will refer to the Credor Spring-Drive Sonnerie as Credor Sonnerie in this article.
Let me begin by
explaining what is a Sonnerie. The Sonnerie has a somewhat mythical status
in the world of watches; it gathers our attention without the owner's intervention, unlike a typical repeating watch that requires the
owner to actuate a button to experience the chimes. From the beginning,
Sonneries have occupied the highest position amongst striking
watches, and rightfully so as they are the most complicated of all
A large temple bell, struck from the left by a timber
suspended by ropes...
... and an Orin bell, usually placed on the table and
struck by a small mallet (bottom of frame).
Japan's love affair
with the bell spans many
centuries. From the temple bell to the Orin bell
to the wind bell hanging from a tree, all are all highly regarded in life.
Naturally, and I mean literally and figuratively, a bell is at the
heart of the Credor Sonnerie.
pictures above we see a Credor Sonnerie bell on the left and a typical
minute repeater gong on the right. The Sonnerie bell is a true bell
while the repeater gong is comprised of two circular wires attached to a
foot via two screws. The sounds are quite different. The bell has a
rather long, sustained note, while the gong is a bit more staccato.
here to visit the Credor Sonnerie website, where you can experience the
sound for yourself. Note: for more accurate sound reproduction, you may wish to let the file
download once completely and then play it again - you won't be
Let me expand
on the idea and origins of the Credor Sonnerie. The SEIKO watch
company has a long history of horology dating from 1881. And so it was
that in 1881, Kintaro Hattori started a humble clock repair and sales
enterprise in the Ginza area of Tokyo. By the late 1900s, the operation
had grown to include clock manufacturing and watch manufacturing. The seed
was sown and has been nurtured by three generations of the Hattori family
since, and will certainly be for many generations to come. By the
way, the word SEIKO means precision.
Micro Arts Studio
In the year 2000 the
Micro Arts Studio was established by SEIKO-Epson. The main mission of the
Micro Arts Studio is to preserve the heritage of watchmaking for the coming
generations, and for the public. What is it that sets the Micro Arts
Studio apart? Well, first of all it is comprised of a small group of
people, only 8 at the moment, that have been hand selected for their
particular skills as related to the group. But maybe its the passion that
the Micro Arts Studio brings to their work that is most important.
Yours truly with the Micro Arts Artisans: Back row, left to
right; Hirose Nobuyuki, Shiohara Kenji, Ron DeCorte, Maejima Masaaki, Yoshifusa Nakazawa.
Front row, left to right: Oguchi Tetsuo, Moteki
Masatoshi, Nakata Katsumi, Takahashi Osamu.
It was in early 1999
that Mr. Masatoshi of the Micro Arts Artisans was in Switzerland making a
presentation. While on the train he experienced the sound of a sonnerie
pocket watch worn by a gentleman nearby. Immediately upon returning to
Japan the challenge of a Sonnerie was offered, and accepted, by the Micro
Arts Studio. Challenge might be too light a word since very few watch
companies have ever undertaken such a test. The Micro Arts Studio has
certainly passed the test.
For me as a
watchmaker, I've experienced countless striking watches (quarter repeaters,
five minute repeaters, minute repeaters, and sonnerie), inside and out.
The Credor Sonnerie is one of the finest I've ever heard. Believe
me that statement was not easy to make, but I stand by my words.