Hands-on

Minase Five Windows Masterpieces, Displaying Japanese Artistic Crafts

Japanese Arts and Crafts applied to watchmaking.

calendar | ic_dehaze_black_24px By Xavier Markl | ic_query_builder_black_24px 3 min read |

Switzerland is usually the country that comes to mind when you think about luxury watches decorated with artistic crafts. However, decorative techniques applied in watchmaking aren’t just reserved for Swiss makers. Japan is a land of watchmaking and of exquisite traditional craftsmanship. So, it is no surprise for a brand like Minase to display superb Japanese métiers d’art techniques too. Let’s take a closer look at these special Minase Five Windows.

Founded in 2005 and based in the province of Akita in the north of Japan, Minase stands out for the originality of its watches. The brand sets out a unique philosophy with its MORE (Minase Original Rebuild Equation) or its case-in-case architecture. There is no dial, in the traditional sense of the word for Minase watches. The movement is housed in a container on top of which indexes are fitted. This creates a floating structure inside each case enhanced by the philosophy of transparency of the brand.

Part of the brand’s collection, the Five Windows is a prime example of its approach. As the name suggests, this rectangular watch features five sapphire crystals. This ‘time-capsule’ offers a multiple-angle view on the case-in-case construction. The fluid, clear-cuts are extended by the spherical top sapphire crystal. The singular lines of the watch are enhanced by state-of-the-art polishing, the Sallaz technique (also named Zaratsu) used throughout Minase watches.

The Minase Five Windows is available in multiple variants, among which the Masterpieces Series showcase traditional, artisanal decorative techniques from Japan. The Masterpieces are available in highly limited editions, with the possibility of an extensive level of customization. The watches are made out of solid gold, palladium or steel. These are fitted with movements based on Swiss ébauches. Each movement comes with a customized rotor.

Minase Five Windows ‘One’ Champlevé enamel

With champlevé enamel, cells are carved out a plate (here in silver), then filled with colourful enamel layers that are successively fired in a kiln. The dials are crafted by Japanese craftsman Kenji Kanagawa. Each design is released in a series of no more than eight pieces. The model pictured here is called Minase ‘One’. It is a tribute to Akita and features ducks in water and maple leaves. The full rotor is richly decorated and lacquered.

Quick facts: palladium case – 38mm x 51mm x 12mm – 5 sapphire crystals with A/R coating – water-resistant to 50m – automatic movement (base ETA2824) – alligator leather strap with pin buckle – CHF 39,500 in palladium

Minase Five Windows ‘Kanagawa’ – traditional carving

Traditional carving is performed for Minase by Kenji Kanagawa. The craftsman engraves either two or four sides of the cases with customized patterns. The dial is hand-decorated in a traditional Japanese style and customized to the clients’ choice with a Kanji.

Quick facts: yellow gold case – 38mm x 51mm x 12mm – 5 sapphire crystals with A/R coating – water-resistant to 50m – automatic movement (base ETA2824) – alligator leather strap with gold pin buckle – CHF 44,500 in yellow gold with 2 sides engraved

Minase Five Windows ‘Akita’ Silver Filigree

Akita used to be an important centre for the production of gold and silver products. Akita Silver filigree is a traditional technique of this province that consists of threading two or three thin pure silver wires (measuring just 0.2mm). The Minase Akita Silver Filigree dials are created by a young craftswoman, Kasumi Takahashi, who learned the technique from her grandmother.

Quick facts: steel case – 32mm x 40.3mm x 11.6mm – 5 sapphire crystals with A/R coating – water-resistant to 50m – automatic movement (base ETA2671) – alligator leather strap with folding buckle – CHF 5,380

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