Return Of The Artisan Watchmaker: Handmade “Concept” Watches
In an age when industrial manufacturing is the rule and people are all too used to checking the time on their cell phones, the idea of painstakingly handcrafted wristband watches sounds like an oddity. Japanese designer Izumo Senko is one to go against the current. He’s the driving force behind these original “concept” pieces which were recently exhibited at the 71st Tokyo International Gift Show.
The Tokyo show is one of the most prominent fairs of its kind in the world and it’s mostly aimed at retailers, importers, distributors and the like. Izumo was there presenting products belonging to his three watch brands: dedegumo, v.c.e. and deee.
Each brand has a shop of its own in Kyoto, once the capital of Japan and an imperial city with a deep-rooted tradition in manual arts. According to Izumo, the trade of handmade watches is starting to see a resurgence in Japan, which is why -in an effort to set themselves apart- his brands make a point of focusing on different concepts.
Dedegumo’s watches embrace classic Japanese design, with a slight edge that keeps them from looking like antiques and firmly anchors them in modernity.
V.c.e.’s motto is “Simple Is Best”. These watches have a slightly more playful air to them. The one featured in the video a few paragraphs below, for example, is a square model with a tripartite wristband.
The coolest ones, however, are definitely the deee watches. They revolve around the concept of “space” and they almost look fit to be sported by steampunky astronauts. What makes them so eye-catching is the fact that most of them feature transparent bodies that leave the entire clockwork exposed.
All the watches are made mostly with materials such as aluminum, brass, copper and of course leather. Izumo explains that only the movements come pre-assembled, the rest of the bits and pieces (“including cases, straps and dials”) are constructed by hand. No parts of the mechanism are imported from elsewhere; every single one of them is Japanese through and through.
The workshops where the watch-making wizardry takes place are located within the sale stores themselves, so that customers may take a peek behind the scenes and marvel at the diligence and precision of the artisans in charge. It seems that despite the unstoppable automation of our world, there’ll always be interest in laborious, exquisitely made handicrafts such as these watches.
If you’re into traditional or old-fashioned watches, make sure you check out Smile At The Time With The Cheshire Cat Pocket Watch and 20 Awesome Steampunk Watches.