The land of the rising sun
When talking about watches, we tend to focus our attention to Europe where some of the most famous brands appear from Switzerland, Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Until the last decade, apart from Grand Seiko and Credor, Japan were not reputed for producing high quality watches and the one independent who most of us may have heard of is Hajime Asaoka who is a member of the AHCI. I was therefore more than excited to discover a couple of other lesser known independents who produce high quality watches to rival Mr Asaoka and the independents in Europe.
Kikuchi Nakagawa was formed by Yusuke Kikuchi and Tomonari Nakagawa in June 2018. They had met in Paris in 2012. They shared a similar vision to make finely finished watches that resemble vintage watches. Kikuchi had graduated from the Paris Watch School practising watch repair wthi Antoine De Macedo Horloger. Tomonari on the other hand after training as a swordsman decided to try his hand at watchmaking and graduated from the same school as Kikuchi. He then worked at Citizen and the Tokyo Watch Precision Company. They have produced something quite extraordinary called the Murakamo which has a diameter of 36.8mm with a thickness of 8.5mm. The watch is in 316L stainless steel and the black polishing on the case is done in house. One might even say that the Murakamo resembles a Patek Philippe ref. 96! The spade shaped hands are beautifully three dimensional and again black polished. The movement is a Vaucher VMF5401 automatic with a micro rotor used by the likes of Parmagiani and Richard Mille. The price of this watch is USD20,000 which is not at all unreasonable considering the quality of the end product and its exclusitivity.
The other independent I would like to mention is Naoya Hida who in 2004 helped to launch FP Journe in Japan. He has just started his own watch brand and debuts with a classical vintage looking watch called the NH Type 1B, a rather long name if you ask me. The watch measures 37mm in diameter and is 9.8mm thick. The watch is in 904L stainless steel (similar to that used by Rolex) as it offers a slightly higher corrosion resistance than the more common 316L! Many of the external components are produced by a Japanese precision machining specialist which results in parts that boast a tolerance of several microns.The dial is in German silver and the movement is a modified Valjoux 7750 with the chronograph mechanism and automatic module removed. Apparently, the barrel and balance bridges have been reworked as well as the winding mechanism which aims to give the winding a more vintage feel. The hands are blue steel and the tip of the minutes hand is curved by hand with a rolling pin to bring it as close as possible to the minute track. Not bad for a watch costing USD16,100.
Thank you for reading and I hope the next time you consider buying a classical vintage looking watch, you might bear in mind these offerings from the East.
The elegant Murakamo
A contender for the ultimate dress watch?
Just the correct proportions
The three dimensional hand black polished
The NH Type 1B
The steel buckle is styled exactly like a vintage watch
Lovely hands and Breguet numerals