Kurono Tokyo is dropping a “Grand” timepiece tomorrow with an Urushi lacquer dial and special “Koji “Japanese writing on the dial and caseback.
The Grand Hagane follows the Grand Akane and features a multi-layered, hand-painted traditional Urushi dial. According to Kurono Tokyo, each watch is “handcrafted piece by piece by female craftsmen in Kyoto who inherited the Kyoto-style Japanese lacquer technique. Kyoto lacquerware is based on a technique introduced from the Tang Dynasty in the Nara Period (710-794) and has been handed down from generation to generation for more than a thousand years based on Kyoto’s unique aesthetic sense.”
Japanese swords are made from very high purity steel called “Tamahagane” and this type of steel is said to be “unbreakable, unbending, and very sharp.” Using this steel as the base for the dial, Japanese women who have inherited the ancient tradition of lacquering swords are producing the dials by hand. The quality of Urushi dials depends on the polishing process, which Kurono Tokyo explains below:
“To polish it, they first find a small piece of charcoal without impurities. Then, the dial is polished using only human fingertips. The work is so delicate that even the slightest wisp on the fingertip can cause striations on the dial, which would have to be rebuilt from scratch. This is one reason why there is such a large rejection rate during the QC process.
Urushi lacquer is made from the filtered sap of the Japanese rhus vernicifera tree. The lacquer absorbs moisture from the air as it hardens, making the lacquered surface perpetually shiny and slick. Over time, Urushi will become harder and more scratch-resistant as the curing process continues even after the initial manufacture. The black lacquer used in this project is called “Roiro,” which is a chemical reaction in which iron oxide is added to raw Urushi and the iron turns the lacquer black. In Japan, this traditional coloring method has been used for a long time to produce a clear and transparent lacquer.
This time, the process of applying several thin layers of Roiro Urushi lacquer and polishing it is used so that the design of “Tamahagane”, the base material, is slightly transparent. The metallic shine of the base metal is covered with a veil of lacquer that shines as if it were wet, allowing us to enjoy the various expressions of the tama-koh patterns depending on the light. Sunlight — specifically UV light — will, over time, lighten and make it more translucent and warmer or cooler.”
The Grand Hagane timepiece comes in a 316L stainless steel case the measures 37 mm in diameter, with a sapphire crystal, a screw-in caseback, and is depth rated to 30 meters. A Japanese-made 4Hz MIYOTA Premium Automatic movement 90S5, with a 40-hour power reserve, drives the three-hands of this time-only dress watch.
Each of the Kurono Tokyo Grand Hagane timepieces is paired with a black calfskin leather strap (20 mm/16 mm) and will retail for $3,171 (JPY 358,500) starting December 9th, 2021.
Interestingly, the customer’s name and serial number will now be printed on the outside of the watch packaging for the Grand Hagane. This limited edition will be produced in the hundreds, not thousands, although Kurono will not disclose the exact production number.
Kurono states that if the watch is discovered on the resale market within the first six months, the warranty will be voided, although that will not likely curtail the flippers reselling these at high prices, especially considering there’s an outsourced Miyota movement inside, which can be easily repaired or replaced, warranty or not.
Photos by Kurono Tokyo.