If the Swiss watch industry dominates the high-end mechanical watch market, the Land of the Rising Sun manufactures some seriously good and interesting mechanical watches too. Among the Japanese makers is Minase, a niche brand standing out for the originality of its watches – read our Minase introductory article here. Based in the province of Akita, in the North of Japan, Minase produces some 500 watches per year. It was founded in 2005 as part of Kyowa and Co., a Japanese specialist tool maker. From its expertise in manufacturing tools and metal work, Kyowa crafted watch parts and then watches.
Among the Minase collections, the Divido stands out as being the only round watch. But like all other Minase models, it features a truly original design philosophy. Magnified by meticulous finishing techniques, its elaborate architecture is based on an unusually high number of parts and distinctive technical solutions.
Minase’s flagship model, the Divido is a 40.5mm steel three-hander. An 8-piece construction, the complex case features 4 lugs screwed from the back of the watch – which holds all the parts together. The profile of the case is particularly striking with the separation between the upper and lower sections, dividing the case in two (the name of the watch, Divido, is derived from that particularity). The finishing of the angular case and its parts is rather spectacular, culminating with the black polishing technique known as Sallaz.
Under the domed sapphire box crystal, the dial literally seems to be floating. Minase watches are constructed around an original concept of case-in-case architecture. The movement is housed in a container, with no dial in the traditional sense of the word. It is sandwiched in between an “index ring” and the casing ring. This creates the impression of a suspended structure within the case, bringing a striking sense of depth, reinforced by the three-dimensional indexes and the bent hands.
The lacquered dial is hammered copper with changing reflections, almost as if was mother-of-pearl. A large cut-out displays the date at 3 o’clock. Three different colours are available: white, black or blue.
Powering the Minase Divido is an automatic calibre based on the tried-and-tested ETA 2824. As such it will be a reliable ally, running at 4Hz and offering 38 hours of power reserve when fully wound. Still, if the finishing of the vast majority of ETA 2824 movements is rather minimalist, Minase customizes it with hand-polishing and perlage on the plate and the bridges.
The Minase Divido is worn on a patterned leather strap or a steel bracelet closed by a folding buckle. Just like the case, the architecture and the finishing of the steel bracelet are surprisingly elaborate. There are no pinholes on the side of the bracelet but screws visible underneath. Each segment is screwed individually (and can be disassembled). It is remarkably articulated, hence flexible and comfortable on the wrist.
With its original construction and elaborate case finishing, the Minase Divido is a watch like no other. I can thoroughly recommend that you go hands-on with it, if only just to check it out in person. Price is set at CHF 3,300 in steel on rubber, CHF 3,580 in black PVD-steel on rubber and CHF 4,680 in steel on a steel bracelet. For more information, please visit www.minasewatches.ch.