Hajime Asaoka is a self-taught, high-end, and independent watchmaker taking on Swiss heavyweights. Moreover, winning against Swiss heavyweights. Asaoka started as a product designer. Like many of us he fell in love with horology. Unlike many of us, he started machining and tinkering. He read George Daniel’s bible, watched too much Youtube, and began machining parts in his spare time. If and when one of his highly sought-after early tourbillons hits the secondary market, I’ll talk more about that story. But today I’m writing about his new venture, Kurono Tokyo. Kurono is a more accessible option created by Asaoka to bring his passion to the people.
The Kurono Tokyo use modified Miyota base movements but everything else is distinctly Asaoka. I firmly believe that when a watchmaker has understood and created their own movement, they are then allowed to outsource as they see fit and to engineer to a cost. Analogously, a musician has to first labour over learning scales, only later to distort and bend them. Rolex has Tudor. Hajime Asaoka has Kurono.
Right now, Kurono are probably most well-known for the Mori and Chronograph 1. What just posted to WUS is something a little more nuanced. This particular Kurono is a time-only model known as the Bullseye, only sold in Japan. The dial is a little more understated and slightly more art-deco as compared to the Mori. What remains is the distinctly beautiful three-hand design and elegant case.
Often when an artist has to work within confines, great things emerge. Only structure can bring poetry like a haiku. Similarly, when focus was taken off the techinical aspects of creating movement, I believe Asaoka was able to focus a little more clearly on design. This brand’s identity is its paired-back, slightly deco, and understated Japanese influence. It is undoubtedly a thing of beauty, and I look forward to seeing them go far.
This Bullseye is said to have been just worn around the house and in excellent condition. It looks it. For such a small outlay, you’re getting a huge amount of character and story. Someone please buy this before I give in.
Find this Kurono Bullseye here on WUS for 3500 USD.