Kurono Tokyo, the slightly more accessible venture of Japanese independent watchmaker Hajime Asaoka, has been enjoying an impressive popularity streak, with most limited-edition models selling out faster than fans wanted. The brand has been trying to solve this availability issue with several tricks for pre-order campaigns and stringent policies for purchasing. Nevertheless, with the launch of the latest model – the Kurono Grand Urushi Aoyama – the way to get the watches will make flippers run away since we’re talking about exclusively boutique-available watches. And that means a trip to Japan.
Today, it’s about a trio of deeply Japanese watches celebrating the island’s craftsmanship. These three new Grand Urushi Aoyama, available as a set of three or individually, are launched to celebrate the opening of Kurono Tokyo’s boutique. Located in Kita-Aoyama, Minato, Tokyo, the boutique is more of a physical gathering place for fans and friends of the brand. This is due to the limited availability of the watches and the fact that the brand can’t ramp up production sufficiently to meet the needs of physical boutique sales. However, there’s a chance to get a watch (or three) from the boutique in a few.
This chance is named Kurono Grand Urushi Aoyama, and it consists of three models that will be available as a set or individually. These new models are all about the best in terms of finishing and dial-making, enhancing the purity of the lines designed by Hajime Asaoka. The case, in finely polished steel with a 37mm diameter, is discreet and sleek, leaving the stage to the dial. We’re talking dress watch territory, with a 30m water-resistance and a thin profile of 7mm without accounting for the box-shaped sapphire crystal.
The dials are the big deal here. These are made thanks to the Urushi lacquer technique. This ancient Japanese craft relies on the filtered sap of the Japanese rhus vernicifera tree. As the brand explains: “It is seen as a miraculous substance that cures naturally into a material with remarkable properties. 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. Suki-Urushi (or clear lacquer) seals the specific patterns on each dial.” An important consideration: “Urushi (…) will turn brighter over time due to moisture loss, which usually takes years. For our Kurono customers, depending on the country you are situated in, the Urushi dial will change colour, creating a unique piece.” The creation is a long process that requires up to two months to dry and prep and has the highest rejection rate among all Kurono watches.
The Kurono Grand Urushi Aoyama is presented with three distinct colours – red, green and black/brown – with discreet patterns underneath the clear coat of lacquer. The dial has limited embellishments otherwise, including the hand-made polished steel hands and brand logo. The watches are paired with black calfskin leather straps, with red/green/black embellished sides. Inside the case, no surprises; these are powered by premium automatic 90S5 calibres by Miyota, under a solid steel back, with Hajime-sensei’s signature embellished in bold kanji calligraphy.
Availability & Price
The Kurono Grand Urushi Aoyama will be available as a set of three in a special Japanese paulownia wood presentation box or individually in regular packaging. Eighty-eight sets of the three models will be available in December 2022; individual watches will be available from February 2023. Prices are JPY 889,000 excl. VAT (about EUR 6,150) for the set of three and JPY 358,500 excl. VAT (about EUR 2,480) for one watch.
The Grand Urushi Aoyama can only be ordered and picked up at the Kurono salon in Aoyama, Tokyo. There is no online ordering possible, and it’s possible to purchase either one set of three, or one individual watch (no more). So, with this in mind, you should plan a visit to Tokyo soon… More details at kuronotokyo.com.