The microbrand watch scene seems infinite. With an explosion of new brands, we’ve reached a point where it has become impossible to keep track of these, from high-end to low-end, and everything in between. Multiple brands have come and gone over the past years. Among these, Minase, a Japanese brand, stands out with a unique story and really original products.
Minase was founded as part of Kyowa and Co., a Japanese specialist tool maker. From its expertise in manufacturing tools, Kyowa crafted watch parts and then watches with the creation of Minase in 2005. The small watch factory is located in the North of Japan, in the province of Akita. Minase is the name of an ancient village near the city of Yuzawa.
Minase manufactures less than 500 watches per year – watches that were only sold in Japan until very recently. The brand now plans to expand at an international level.
Japan is rightfully famous for the quality and originality of its arts and crafts. Metalwork is a long-standing tradition in Japan, fusing innovative craftsmanship, ancient skills and technology. The creation of Minase Watches follows a unique philosophy. Most of the habillage components (cases, crowns, dials or straps) are crafted in-house with a surprising level of finishing. In particular, the black polishing of parts -called Sallaz – is impressive. The movements are Swiss calibres customized in the brand’s workshops.
The way Minase watches are constructed is also special. The brand states that it is inspired by Ysegi Zaiku, Japanese 3D puzzles. Each model features a case-in-case architecture. The movement is housed in a container, with no dial – at least, not in the traditional sense of the word. It is sandwiched in between an “index ring” and the casing ring, creating the impression of a floating structure within the case.
The collection comprises three main designs. Five Windows, Divido and Horizon.
As it names indicates, Five Windows features 5 sapphire crystals. It creates a time capsule offering a 360-degree view of the case-in-case construction within its rectangular case. The model is offered in steel, palladium, rose gold and yellow gold.
Divido is a round model, with an 8-piece construction for the case. The four lugs are screwed from the back of the watch and hold all the parts in place. Under the sapphire box crystal, the dial seems to be floating. The dial is made from hammered copper, which is lacquered to create striking reflections, almost as if was mother-of-pearl.
The third collection, Horizon, features a rectangular case with a spherical sapphire crystal, creating smooth lines reminiscent of the horizon. The concave case band is finished like a katana.
Minase also offers exclusive editions with personalized themes displaying superb Japanese métiers d’art. For instance, its latest creation is a Five Windows model with a silvered, grand feu enamel dial (champlevé) and a palladium case.
These watches range from CHF 3,000 to CHF 12,000, depending on the model and the material chosen. For more information, please visit www.minasewatches.ch.