The fascinating world of watches stretches all around the world and thankfully, it doesn’t only focus on Switzerland. Until now, we haven’t featured that many brands from Japan on MONOCHROME, to the exception of the usual mainstream brands and a few rising brands, and it is about time we do something about that. Today’s destination is the Land of the Rising Sun as we take a closer look at Naoya Hida & Co., an independent watchmaker based in Tokyo, Japan, doing things with impressive attention to details. And the topic of choice is the recently introduced Naoya Hida & Co. Type 3A Moon Phase.
It’s no secret that we, at MONOCHROME, have love for independent watchmaking. People that do things on their own, with creativity and above all, devotion to craftsmanship. Time and time again we’re surprised with the virtual limitless industry we love. Youngtimer-brand Naoya Hida & Co. is one of those brands that to us, came out of nowhere and took us by surprise. The brand uses traditional watchmaking techniques with superbly finished, elegant watches as a result.
The company was founded in 2018 by Mr Naoya Hida, and has followed a strict principle; offer high-end watches in very limited numbers, with a consistent design. Mr Naoya Hida served as a representative for F.P. Journe and Ralph Lauren’s watches and jewelry, so he knows a thing or two about high-end watchmaking. Later, in 2020, master watchmaker Mr Kosuke Fujita joined the company and is in charge of watch design and assembly. Mr Kusoke Fujita graduated from the Hiko-Mizuno Watchmaking School in Tokyo in 2002 and is WOSTEP-certified as a first-class watch repair technician. He has experience working at the Seiko Time Lab (former Seiko Service Centre) and F.P. Journe as well, before joining Naoya Hida & Co.
The design language of the brand focuses on bringing back the elegant and refined watches from the 1930s and 1940s. There’s an undeniable Patek Phillipe Calatrava flair, with a similar style. It is clear at least some inspiration has been taken from historical Calatrava watches, as evidenced by our history on the Calatrava Part 1 and Part 2. Restraint dimensions, subtle designs, all superbly finished and in very limited numbers, that is the basic idea.
Although very similar in style, the three watches are distinguishable by their indications and complications. The 37mm x 9,8mm Naoya Hida & Co. Type 1 series has central hours and minutes, as well as a small seconds, and is in its third iteration by now. The 1A was the first-ever prototype by Naoya Hida & Co. and has never been on sale. The Type 1B was the first commercial watch and has now been discontinued and replaced by the Type 1C. The dial and hands are highly traditional, with leaf-shaped, hand-polished and blued hands set over a German Silver dial. The Breguet-style numerals are engraved by hands and filled with Urushi lacquer.
Following the inaugural series came the Naoya Hida & Co. Type 2, this time with central seconds. It still has a 37mm steel case, albeit slightly thicker due to a change in the movement. The stepped dial is once again finished by hand with engraved Arabic numerals filled with Urushi lacquer. The hour and minute hands are polished steel with a blue seconds hand. The movement for both the Type 1 series and the Type 2 series is quite unusual, being based on a Valjoux 7750. The automatic movement is stripped of its winding mechanism and chronograph components. In the Type 2, it has an extra set of gears to re-route the seconds’ indication to the centre.
Both watches have been made in small batches, slightly retouched with each iteration. When a new batch is introduced, the previous one is discontinued. We’re talking very limited runs here, with only 7 to 15 pieces per model so far.
The New Naoya Hida & Co. Type 3A Moon Phase
While the NH Type 1C and NH Type 2B were variations around an existing model, Naoya Hida & Co. recently pulled the covers off the Type 3A Moon Phase. This classical and distinctive watch is the first model with an additional complication to be released by the Japanese watchmaker. Once again, inspirations are clearly on yesteryear dress watches, this time with a little twist though.
Watches from that era tend to be considered too small by many, as they rarely exceeded 35mm in diameter. Naoya Hida & Co. once again turn to the 37mm Calatrava style case that they’ve used for the Type 1 and Type 2 series. It is an elegant and subtle case, done in 904L stainless steel, with polished and brushed finishing and a simple yet effective crown. The rounded, concave bezel is fully polished, enhancing the vintage look of the watch. The case is 10,7mm thick, which keeps things in check with the vintage-oriented dimensions.
Similar to the Type 1 and Type 2 series the dial is the main attraction on this Type 3A Moon Phase. It displays refined watchmaking techniques, with a superbly executed vintage style. The most noticeable feature is, of course, the moon phase indication, which is displayed by an 18k yellow gold disc underneath the dial. The disc is engraved by hand with stars and a decorative smiling moon made out of a separate part. The friendly-looking moon is a whimsical, delightful touch, which sort of reminds us of the “angry” moon by Finnish watchmaker Stepan Sarpaneva. The disc is finished with a micro-bead blasted surface, which makes the engraved stars and moon really stand out.
The gold colour of the moon phase disc strongly contrasts with the matte finish of the German Silver dial. The dial is about three times thicker than usual to give room for the hand-engraved roman numerals. Each one is engraved by hand into the dial disc. After the engraving, the dial is cleaned up and the engravings are filled with a synthetic “cashew” Japanese lacquer. The glossy finish of the recessed numerals gives the dial a real sense of depth, especially paired with the stepped design. On the outer edge of the dial is a machined minute track with recessed dots on a circular brushed ring. This minute track is a separate component in the dial construction.
Keeping things to a bare minimum, just two hands – hours and minutes – are running over the dial. The hands are milled out of solid steel instead of being stamped. After that, they are polished and heat-blued by hand for a perfect finish. The centre of the hands is finished with a contrasting polished cap. Both the hours and minutes hand have a slightly bent tip, another discreet touch to this superb watch. The dial is covered by a domed sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating.
Now, if there is one slight complaint I would have is the choice to hide the movement underneath a solid caseback. I would have loved to see what Naoya Hida & Co. have done to their base movement, as is possible with the NH Type 1 series. The engine for the NH Type 3A, known as Calibre 3020LU Manual, is again based on a Valjoux chronograph movement, this time the 7751. Just like before, the movement is heavily stripped, dropping the chronograph components and the automatic winding mechanism.
The Valjoux 7751 is an evolution of the well-known chronograph movement, equipped with triple calendar indications and a moonphase at 6 o’clock. What Naoya Hida & Co. have done is design a completely new three-quarter plate and balance bridge, along with a new winding mechanism. Conveniently, the moon phase indication can be adjusted through the crown where you would normally find the position to set the date. The moon disc makes a full rotation every 59 days, coherent with the 29,5 days of a lunar cycle.
In terms of specifications, the Valjoux 7750-family is a true workhorse range of movements. Even in such a heavily modified version, it’s likely to be quite robust. It runs at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour and boasts up to 45 hours of power reserve. The number of components is notably reduced due to removing the chronograph complication and making it hand-wound. The thickness of the movement goes from the standard 7,90mm to a slimmer 5,60mm, and instead of 25 it now uses 18 jewels.
Availability & Price
The Naoya Hida & Co NH Type 3A is worn on a 20mm hand-made Alcantara strap in a subtle dark blue colour, with calfskin lining. The strap comes equipped with a 904L steel pin and buckle. The price for the NH Type 3A is pretty hefty, at JPY 2,640,000 – which is the equivalent of approximately EUR 20,250 at the time of publishing. As is usual with watches made by Naoya Hida & Co., only a very limited number of pieces will be made, with 15 pieces scheduled for the Type 3A, before we can expect the NH Type 3B to be released.
All in all, this is a remarkably handsome watch with a strong vintage vibe. The proportions seem spot on, and even though it is on the expensive side, I feel it is not overpriced. Some of the watchmaking techniques displayed by Naoya Hida & Co. are superb.
More information on NaoyaHidaWatch.com.