Many of us tend to overlook the fact that the realm of high-end watchmaking extends far beyond the Swiss Jura mountains. In addition to Switzerland, Germany and Japan also hold their place of prominence in this arena. Among the Japanese independent brands, Naoya Hida occupies a prominent position at the forefront. Established in 2018, Naoya Hida & Co. is a Tokyo-based watch atelier that embodies the passion and expertise of its founder, Hida-san. Having previously served as a representative for esteemed brands like F.P. Journe and Ralph Lauren in Japan, Hida-san brings a wealth of experience to his newly founded independent brand, as he sought to create highly limited timepieces that fuse classical design inspiration with modern technical proficiency. The result? Simple timepieces that are finished to a very, very high level, like the NH Type 1D we have on offer here today.
Beginning with the case, the Type 1D showcases an elegant Calatrava styling, measuring at a modest 37mm x 9.8mm and meticulously crafted from 904L stainless steel, which was chosen by Naoya Hida due to its exceptional corrosion resistant properties. The inclusion of a screw-down caseback here is adorned with a circular brushed surface, which is an ode to classic timepieces of the 1950s and 1960s era. Although the case may appear understated from afar, its undeniably impeccable craftsmanship and finishing would reveal itself when observed up close, reflecting Naoya Hida’s dedication to achieving an exceptional level of quality with this particular reference.
Moving on to the dial, the Type 1D exemplifies a harmonious blend of vintage charm and Japanese craftsmanship. Crafted from German silver, the dial pays homage to early vintage timepieces with its nostalgic design cues, such as the polished, thermal-blued leaf hands and the beautiful, hand-carved Breguet numerals. Upon closer inspection, you will notice that the Breguet numerals and the minute track dots along the periphery possess a captivating glossy sheen. This lustrous effect is achieved by carefully filling them with Urushi lacquer, a traditional and exceptionally durable natural lacquer derived from the sap of the Urushi tree.
As far as the movement within is concerned, the Type 1D is powered by a highly modified ETA Cal. 7750 movement, specifically adapted here as the manual-winding Cal. 3019SS. This choice was influenced by the renowned reliability and serviceability of the workhorse ETA Cal. 7750. Several notable modifications have been made to this ETA caliber, including the removal of the self-winding and chronograph components. Additionally, a Glashütte-style 3⁄4 plate has been added to the base caliber, encompassing almost the entire movement, with the exception of the balance wheel and balance bridge. The Cal. 3019SS also offers a power reserve of 48 hours.
To me, Naoya Hida embodies the very essence of what makes the Japanese approach to artisanal craftsmanship and independent horology so captivating. Their ability to take something seemingly simple and elevate it to the highest level of artistry is truly remarkable. It is a testament to their unwavering commitment to excellence and their deep understanding of the intricacies of their craft. Also, in a world where mass production often dominates, witnessing the work of a small independent watch atelier like Naoya Hida is truly refreshing.
It is worth noting that only approximately 20 pieces of the NH Type 1D were produced between 2022 and 2023.