When you think of great Japanese watchmaking, the giants of Seiko (Grand Seiko included) and Citizen dominate the landscape, but just like in Europe, Japan also has its own crop of excellent independent watchmakers. Of those in Japan, the name Hajime Asaoka looms as one of the most important, not just for his extremely fine handmade timepieces, but also for his more affordable brand called Kurono Tokyo. Its latest release is the Kurono Tokyo Calendrier Type I, and there’s a lot to love about it.
Keen watch enthusiasts might have come across Kurono Tokyo before, but if you’ve not yet, it’s a watchmaking project set up by master watchmaker Hajime Asaoka to deliver high-quality designs and manufacturing at an affordable price. Unlike his handmade watches, which can cost around $90,000 depending on the model, Kurono Tokyo keeps prices down to a few thousand dollars by using off-the-shelf movements while still being designed and assembled by Asaoka and his team.
Watches from Kurono Tokyo have been extremely popular over the last couple of years, typically selling out in minutes and commanding a premium on the pre-owned market. This extremely enthusiastic reception is partially thanks to Asaoka’s excellent reputation among watch collectors, but equally thanks to the brand’s heritage-inspired designs, modest case sizes and quality finishing.
The Kurono Tokyo Calendrier Type I is the latest timepiece to be announced, featuring a 38mm 316L steel (low-carbon surgical grade) case, which is a slender 10mm thick. The high-polished case is relatively unadorned apart from the coin-edge bezel, featuring a solid caseback that delivers 50m of water resistance.
It’s the drab green dial that’s the proper star of the show though, with a display that is relatively unusual to see these days in an annual calendar (or complete calendar) with subdials for the day and month, and a date window at 6 o’clock. It’s a great design because of the simplicity in which it communicates the information, allowing you to know the exact date and time at a quick glance, without feeling cluttered or visually busy. You’re able to set the day and date via the crown of the watch, while the month indicator is adjusted by a small corrector at 2 o’clock.
In addition to the clever layout of the dial, it also has printed white hour markers that contrast nicely against the military green, executed in an unusual gothic-looking font, with a simple railroad minutes track framing the whole thing. Complimenting the polished steel case is a set of steel Kurono hands, none of which has been blued, delivering a monochromatic visual impression.
Powering the new Kurono Tokyo Calendrier Type I is a Japan-made Miyota 9122 movement, which ticks away at 28,800bph and has a respectable power reserve of 40 hours. The movement allows you to set the time, day and date via the crown of the watch, while the month indicator is adjusted by a small corrector at 2 o’clock.
All considered it’s an exciting new release that continues to push into interesting and increasingly complicated territory for Kurono Tokyo. The watch will be available from Friday the 12 August at 12:00am AEST, with a price of JPY 243,000 (AU$2,615).