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Introducing the Kurono by Independent Watchmaker Hajime Asaoka

When you hear the phrase, “Japanese watchmaking,” what springs to mind? My guess is that most people, at least most watch enthusiasts, immediately jump to Seiko, and probably Grand Seiko as well. Casio also weighs heavily in the world of Japanese watches. And, of course, there’s Citizen. All of these brands, in different ways, are uniquely Japanese. They take elements of traditional craft, efficiency in production, and a highly specific aesthetic, and combine them all to create things — watches — that are easily distinguishable as objects that are Japanese in their nature.

But these brands don’t tell the whole story of Japanese watchmaking. For those that are truly interested, and happen to have deep pockets, there’s a small world of artisans creating timepieces that are at once very much in the tradition of what we think of as the highest end of Swiss watchmaking (an entire watch, made from scratch, by one person), and also firmly planted in traditional Japanese craft traditions.


Hajime Asaoka is one such watchmaker. His watches aren’t the type we typically cover on Worn & Wound. They start at around $40,000, and each timepiece is a collaboration between Asaoka and his client, and might take a year or more to produce. Each watch is a truly one of a kind creation and a work of art.


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