Hello everyone! In this article, I’ll be shining a spotlight on my recent watch acquisition, the Kurono Tokyo Toki.
This is essentially a series where I shine a spotlight on my personal purchases. I’ve previously done similar articles, the most recent of which were on my IWC Mark XVIII Le Petit Prince and TAG Heuer Monaco CAW211B. Today, I’m shifting directions a little into the (somewhat) independent watchmaking world with the Kurono Tokyo Toki.
For those unfamiliar with the brand, Kurono Tokyo is an initiative by independent Japanese watchmaker Hajime Asaoka, who’s typically known for his intricate (and prohibitively expensive) timepieces. On the brand’s website, Kurono Tokyo states that it “aims to deliver to watch collectors a more accessible timepiece that shares the design DNA of Hajime’s exclusive handmade atelier watches, at affordable levels”. Hajime-san also did a video elaborating on his motivations here.
I’ve liked Kurono Tokyo’s watches for quite some time now. I remember attempting to purchase the Reiwa when it first launched, but unfortunately failed in my attempt. Kurono watches are typically produced in very limited quantities (usually 50 pieces), with demand far out-stripping supply. This has also caused resale prices to skyrocket – the Reiwa can be found on the secondary market for close to S$8000, or triple its initial MSRP of US$1738. Resigned to the current state of the watch market, I found myself admiring Kurono (alongside other indies/micros such as Ming) from afar.
That changed when Kurono announced the Toki earlier this year. Meant to commemorate the brand’s second anniversary, purchase of the Toki was limited to just ten minutes, instead of pre-defined quantities. In other words, anyone who orders the Toki within the stipulated 10-minute time frame will be guaranteed a watch. And despite secondary values of previous models skyrocketing, the watch remained fairly affordable at the same $1738 price point.
However, I wasn’t just attracted to the accessibility of the Toki. I genuinely think it’s the best looking time-only Kurono model the brand has introduced thus far. Okay, I admit I’m biased – I love salmon dials, as can be seen from my previous purchase of the salmon Nomos Tangente Red Dot Edition. I was also intrigued by the unique shade of the Toki’s dial, which appeared to be more pinkish than the copperish salmon dials of the western watchmaking world. Hajime-san states that the colour is inspired by “the Japanese crested ibis, an auspicious bird with feathers of a shade akin to that of a rising sun, and is regarded as a symbol of happiness and good fortune”. I like that the connection to Japanese culture, which makes the Toki feel more than just a differently coloured dial variant of previous models.
The production of the Toki (and Kurono watches in general) are managed by Precision Watch Tokyo Co. Ltd, which is the same parent company as Hajime Asaoka’s atelier where he produces his handmade watches. Make no mistake – the Kurono Toki cannot hold a candle to Hajime-san’s handmade watches like the Tsunami. But at literally a fraction of the price, it shouldn’t be expected to. Note that Kurono describes its watches as being merely designed by Hajime Asaoka, not made by him. Still, I would say that the dial is well-finished for its price, with a subtle sunburst radial texture that’s only apparent up close. The metallic rings, hands and indices are polished without flaws too, while the Miyota 90S5 movement beating inside gets the job done. While perhaps not necessarily better finished than the similarly priced Swiss watches from the likes of Longines and Oris, I would say that it’s definitely in the same league.
While ostensibly a simple design, there’s a thoughtfulness of the Toki that shows the impetus of Hajime-san. For one, the watch wears well at 37mm wide, with a mere 7mm thickness. There’s a sensibility to the dimensions that’s distinctly Japanese in nature. I also love the box sapphire crystal, which replicates the visual effect of the acrylic crystals found in vintage watches. Lastly, the metallic concentric rings morph under different lighting conditions, resulting in an eminently striking look.
I’m genuinely hard-pressed to find any flaws with the watch. Its most obvious weakness is probably the prosaic Miyota movement beating within, but for the Toki to use an ETA movement would seem inappropriate, especially given its strong Japanese influence. The dial is simple, but not simplistic, which is a fine and oft-difficult balance to achieve. Perhaps the word “automatic” could have been omitted – I find the text superfluous – but aside from that I don’t have any qualms with the beautiful pinkish salmon dial. It’s definitely one of the most unique dials in my collection. And in a world where indie/microbrand watch prices are getting increasingly steeper, the Toki is a refreshing breath of fresh air. It’s an accessible watch that doesn’t make you feel like you’ve settled for less, as is often the case with watches at this price point. I love it.
For more, visit Kurono’s website here.
Kurono Tokyo Toki – Video Review
For those interested in seeing some hands-on footage of the watch, do watch my Youtube review of the Kurono Toki below:
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P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.