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 design language and vintage watches of the past.
Offered here today is a Chronograph II “Shiro”, which is an evolution of the initial Chronograph II launched in black back in early 2021. The Shiro was launched in 2022 as the 3rd addition to the brand’s “Complications” series.
When I first laid eyes on the Shiro, I immediately noticed how radiant and clear the dial looked despite having such a busy looking aesthetic. According to Asaoka-sensei, this radiance was achieved by subjecting the dial to fine sandblasting, followed by silvering and adding multiple layers of thick lacquer. The application of this thick lacquer, accompanied by higher definition printing, resulted in a dial with a remarkable depth of field where the markers here appear as if they are floating above the dial itself. The white base of the dial is also thoughtfully combined with some subtle grey elements, giving it a slightly contrasting two-tone appearance. Asaoka-sensei also added nice touches of red accents on the chapter ring and the pulsometer/tachymeter scale, which tastefully offsets the rich white tone here. The Shiro also features a telemeter scale on the dial’s periphery and concentric guilloche on the slightly recessed sub-dials, as well as a date window aperture at 6 o ‘clock. The gorgeous “kyudo” arrow hands and applied hour markers seen here are made out of steel and hand polished.
The Shiro’s case is identical to its 2021 sibling in black and measures a conservative 38mm x 13.9mm (inclusive of the height of the domed sapphire crystal) which makes it very wearable by modern standards. The surface of its 316L stainless steel case is highly polished and paired with a pair of pump-action chronograph pushers and a closed-off solid case back. As for the movement, the Shiro is powered by a flagship Seiko Cal. NE86, which is one of Seiko’s finest calibers for third parties. This 311-part, 34-jeweled, automatic movement also features the column wheel, a magic lever winding system, and a vertical clutch. Additionally, it also boasts a respectable power reserve of 45 hours.
Amongst the other chronograph variants offered by Kurono in this series, this is by far the one that stood out the most to me, simply because of how pure and balanced the watch looks from a distance as well as on the wrist. The Shiro is a showcase of Asaoka-sensei’s personal desire and technical mastery in creating a chronograph that exudes a sense of sophistication, functionality, and simplicity, which is exactly what comes to mind every single time I look at the Shiro.