If you’re following the independent watchmaking scene and if you, like us, have a strong interest in Japanese watchmaking, there’s a high probability that you’ve already heard about Kurono Tokyo. And if not, it’s time to have a look. Basically, Kurono is the brainchild of high-end watchmaker Hajime Asaoka, with the idea to provide “a more accessible timepiece that shares the design DNA of Hajime’s exclusive handmade atelier watches, at affordable levels.” And since the first models, the success has been immense, with most of the editions selling out within minutes. So, better be fast for what’s coming, the new Kurono Tokyo Chronograph II White Shiro.
While the watches produced under the Hajime Asaoka name are ultra-high-end, complex and exclusive watches with in-house movements, what the watchmaker has done with Kurono Tokyo is to bring an identical sense of design and attention to details, yet with accessibility in mind – mostly thanks to simpler cases and dials, as well as movements supplied by Seiko or Miyota. With this, Kurono managed to create incredible traction and enthusiasm, with some of the most seasoned collectors we know all looking for acquiring a Kurono Tokyo. But since production is limited, there has been a few availability issues, on which Asaoka is working hard to simplify the situation (more on that at the end).
In addition to its Classic Series of 3-hand models, Kurono Tokyo has created already 2 chronographs, the third being presented today. The watch you’re looking at today is an evolution of the Chronograph II design launched in black in early 2021. From the beginning, Hajime Asaoka wanted to offer both a black and a white version, but he faced some production issues. Due to the limitation in the number movements the brand can procure, but also the need to refine the execution of the dial, some more time was needed. But the Kurono Tokyo Chronograph II White “Shiro” is here.
Having more time gave Asaoka the possibility to update the dial to give it an even better definition. The white colour is obtained thanks to multiple layers of lacquer. This thicker lacquer, combined with higher definition printing, provides an impressive depth of field on the dial, with all markings appearing like floating above the dial. The dial is complex, rich in details and shows refined execution. The white base is combined with grey elements, giving it a two-tone style, but also red accents for the chapter ring and the tachymeter scale, a telemeter scale on the periphery and concentric guilloche pattern on the highly recessed sub-counters. The handsome “kyudo” arrow hands and the applied hour markers are made of steel and hand polished. A framed date window sits at 6 o’clock.
The case is the same as the 2021 black model. As such, the Kurono Tokyo Chronograph II White Shiro measures a compact 38mm diameter. The case is soft in shape, with nicely polished surfaces and a highly-domed sapphire crystal on top. It’s paired with pump chronograph pushers and has a closed steel back. It is worn on a classic black leather strap with pin buckle. Inside the case, and one of the main reason for the accessibility of these watches compared to other creations of Asaoka, is a Seiko calibre NE86, an automatic movement with column wheel, vertical clutch, and magic lever winding system.
Availability, Pre-order and price
This is where things get a little more complex. Since its creation, Kurono Tokyo had to face high demand and resellers trying to flip the watches for a premium. Hajime Asaoka is constantly improving its strategy in order to avoid such problems.
So, what you should known about the Kurono Tokyo Chronograph II White Shiro is this: it will be a limited series produced in “an edition of hundreds” which shall not be repeated. The brand will not provide a statement of the exact number of watches that will be produced. To combat the existing reseller problem, Kurono Tokyo has a stringent one watch per customer policy.
The Kurono Tokyo Chronograph II White Shiro will be available as of Thursday 24 February, at 11.30pm (Japan standard time), 09:30am (New York time) or 03:30pm (Central Europe time). A non-refundable preorder deposit of 50% applies and shipments will begin in April 2022. The watch will be priced at JPY 428,000 (about USD 3,700 or EUR 3,280) without shipping and applicable taxes.
For more details and to prepare for an order, please visit kuronotokyo.com.