Founded in 2018 as a way for legendary Japanese watchmaker Hajime Asaoka to create serial production pieces, Kurono Tokyo stands as one of the most exciting microbrands in the market today. With his reputation as an exceptional independent watchmaker, Hajime Asaoka was famed for designing one-off timepieces in close collaboration with his clients. With demand growing, he decided to launch a different brand and create timepieces catering to those who wanted affordable watches that shared design language with both his original watches and vintage watches of the past.
Presented here today is a limited trio of Kurono Grand Urushi Aoyama timepieces, which were specifically released to commemorate the inauguration of Kurono’s boutique in Kita-Aoyama, Tokyo. This set is notably rare as they are limited to only 188 pieces for each variant and can only be ordered and collected from the boutique itself.
Starting with a finely polished stainless-steel case measuring 37mm x 7mm, the Kurono Grand Urushi Aoyama, as indicated in its name, features an exquisite dial expertly crafted with Urushi lacquer. Derived from the sap of the Japanese Urushi tree, this natural lacquer is renowned for its remarkable durability. Crafting a dial with Urushi lacquer involves a painstaking and time-consuming curing process, making it a labour-intensive endeavour with high rejection rates.
The Grand Urushi Aoyama set showcased today consists of three individual variants, each with a distinct dial colour - red, green, and brown. If you look closer, you will notice that these dials have discreet patterns subtly visible underneath the clear lacquer coating. All three watches feature polished steel hands and the Kurono logo delicately placed at the 12 o'clock position. The dial design, overall, is characterized by simplicity and minimalism, which I think allows the purity of the design to take centre stage.
Powering these timepieces from within is the premium Miyota Cal. 90S5, which features a power reserve of 40 hours and beats away at 28,800 vph. It comes with a solid caseback embellished with Asaoka-sensei’s calligraphy in kanji, which provides a nice personalised and distinctive touch to each timepiece.
As I have mentioned earlier, Kurono made it clear upon its launch that only 188 pieces (of each variant) of the Grand Urushi Aoyama would ever be produced with only 88 sets like this one. If you are an admirer of Hajime Asaoka-sensei’s work and Japanese watchmaking in general, this a great opportunity to get your hands on a rare domestic market only set.