Kurono Tokyo

Mar 17, 2023,02:02 AM

Took a walk over to Aoyama to visit Hajime Asaoka’s Kurono Tokyo boutique yesterday evening.  

The boutique opened last year I think, and in addition to having a display of several of the past collections they also have a limited run collection of 3 watches for sale in the boutique only (unlike all the others which sell online only).  These editions are called Grand Urushi Aoyama.  There are 188 of each, including either 80 or 88 of each that are sold only as a set of all three. 

These boutique watches each have Urushi (lacquer) dials, something Kurono has used before, you can see the colours in the pictures below.  In addition the base dials each have a different pattern / “finish” representing something personal to Asaoka-san.  What I like about this edition is that there are no numerals, so almost Moser-like you have a pretty clean dial with the attention on the colour (and underlying texture, light play). 

This is my first time seeing any of Kurono’s watches in person.  Personally I like the sizing, all small cases including the new 34mm case with that art deco style.  On first handling the cases seem to be of decent quality, something which is not always true at these price points.  Inside are basic Miyota movements (except the chronos which are Seiko). 

There is also a picture below showing the one of the current Boutique editions together with a similarly coloured (but different) Urushi dial from an earlier release.

The staff were super friendly and happy to spend time showing all the watches, and chatting about the brand.  

The current boutique Grand Urushi Aoyama together with a similarly coloured Urushi dial from a prior edition. The colour is quite different, in addition the underlying texture on the dial surface is also different. 

The newly released and sold out I think 34mm art deco style. 

A chronograph, with the Seiko movement, from a prior edition. 

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Me too. But sold out I think.

 By: Jay (Eire) : March 17th, 2023-02:18
Seems like art deco and small size will be a thing going forward however.

yes, I had an eye on that one

 By: VinnieD : March 17th, 2023-08:10
it deserves a more colourful strap though Congrats to those who secured it. I hesitated whilst the silvery white option was still available - nice pieces all around Thanks for the atmospheric photo report

The SA said that they purposely choose these straps on all references.

 By: Jay (Eire) : March 17th, 2023-12:52
The idea was keep it simple as the expectation is buyers will mount something more to their taste.

Beautiful pieces.

 By: InHavenPro : March 17th, 2023-02:45
Thanks for posting the pictures here! Cheers, Filip

They were pretty appealing.

 By: Jay (Eire) : March 17th, 2023-04:08
To me, these boutique editions are likely my favourite so far. The caveat being, this was also the very first time to see any in the metal. But I like the simple dial without markers or numerals.

What’s the size of that brownish dial?

 By: Echi : March 17th, 2023-02:59
Thanks for the report and the pics!

Those are the boutique editions.

 By: Jay (Eire) : March 17th, 2023-03:04

Nice size 🙂

 By: Echi : March 17th, 2023-03:05

About a 20 minute walk from my old apartment...

 By: mdg : March 17th, 2023-03:10
...of course, it wasn't there then. Will have to stop by next time I'm in town : )

Very nice.

 By: Jay (Eire) : March 17th, 2023-04:07
A little off my usual beaten track in that area, but good to explore some streets less traveled (for me).

For me too!

 By: amanico : March 17th, 2023-23:39

The 3-piece urushi set is very appealing, and the size looks great on you.

 By: ArmisT : March 17th, 2023-05:45
I have this previous release urushi dial piece which really caught my eye for its dancing shadows as well as the numerals. ...  

Very cool. They had that watch on display also and I actually did look at it.

 By: Jay (Eire) : March 17th, 2023-06:52
The dials on these new ones are slightly different that prior similar colours. Although as the dial gets UV exposure it will change a bit, the SA seems to think these new dials will not end up as light as the prior ones.

Very interesting what you highlight in your initial post…

 By: ArmisT : March 17th, 2023-08:41
because I thought the new smaller ones were exactly the same as previous (at first glance), but I see differences now. Plus I didn’t know that the dial color changes over time with UV exposure. My dial is still the same as when arrived since I don’t wear ... 

The Urushi is supposed to change colour some I believe with exposure to light.

 By: Jay (Eire) : March 17th, 2023-09:08
And for all of these dials, yours included, the underlying patterns (which are on the “raw” dial prior to the application of the lacquer) do seem to be all different. Which is cool.

Nice coverage!

 By: sham1 : March 17th, 2023-06:30
Did you buy a watch?! The Aoyama box set in 88 pieces was great value and I feel the absence of the numerals pays more emphasis to the lovely urushi dials.

I didn’t, but I am not fully decided.

 By: Jay (Eire) : March 17th, 2023-06:50
I plan to go back and see the three in the daylight. Do I need another watch? Absolutely not. 😂

I hear you :) But for this set I would do it, or at least strongly consider.

 By: ArmisT : March 17th, 2023-08:48
You do have a great collection of independents. While the Kurono is not necessarily on same level as your others, it is a unique and very admirable effort by Asaoka. Also, the size looks great on your wrist.👌🏽

We all don't need another watch!

 By: sham1 : March 17th, 2023-09:23
But the word 'need' has never been a priority when buying a watch. I think 'love' prevails or at least it does for me. No love, no purchase!

So the box set

 By: sham1 : March 17th, 2023-09:24
and Individual Aoyama watches remain available for sale? I would have thought that with only 188 pieces each, they would have been snapped up by now.

Yes. All available.

 By: Jay (Eire) : March 17th, 2023-12:51
But these can only be purchased in person. Obviously the demand, or dare I say FOMO/hype, doesn’t exist to the same extent domestically. This I understand and so I can’t say I’m surprised. I asked the SA about foot traffic / visitors generally and she est... 

Thank you for the information Jay!

 By: sham1 : March 17th, 2023-15:08
I might need to fly to Japan

Very nice report

 By: Watchonthewrists : March 17th, 2023-08:26
Thanks for sharing

You’re welcome.

 By: Jay (Eire) : March 17th, 2023-12:53

Thanks for posting this. I think the dial designs here are all very imaginative/high end.

 By: Nicetomeetyou : March 17th, 2023-12:13
The time only are all my taste as well (even the 34mm ones). I like how the chrono looks so clean. Even the date is well done. Seiko may have a history of being the first auto/chrono movement, so a high end seiko movement with vertical clutch and column w... 

I did come away with a good impression generally on all the watches I saw.

 By: Jay (Eire) : March 17th, 2023-12:55
I do like these new Urushi dials. Really appealing.

Thanks for sharing!

 By: patrick_y : March 17th, 2023-23:57
I meant to go, but it wasn't where I was expecting it to be in Aoyama. Did you dine at INTERSECT by Lexus in Aoyama yet?

I didn’t.

 By: Jay (Eire) : March 18th, 2023-01:43
I was only in the neighborhood one day (and one other evening with specific dinner plans). I was going to check it out for lunch that day but then got distracted by the below bento and had to commit the cardinal sin of eating on the street! Oops ! The ben...  

Lots of pickled veggies!

 By: patrick_y : March 18th, 2023-02:17
Good to know! Bon appetite! Hope you get a chance to try Sant Pau for lunch!

Super interesting

 By: ChristianDK : March 18th, 2023-06:43
Thank you. I’m adding it to my Tokyo list. I love especially the first dark brown dial. Amazing color. Can’t wait to hear if you are going to get a piece. Sounds like a fantastic pick up.