There was a time not too long ago when news of a new watch from Kurono Tokyo could nearly break the internet. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but as the brand was building up a head of steam, it felt like loads of hype accompanied every new announcement. This was the peak of pandemic era watch speculation, and Kurono was in the middle of it. Over time, the frenzy has cooled and Kurono announcements are no longer the object of such intense scrutiny. I get the sense that Hajime Asaoka and his team are just fine with that – this is a brand that has instituted layers of “anti flipping” safeguards to their ordering process, after all. But a curious thing is happening: as the hysteria for Kurono’s limited editions has waned, the watches themselves seem to be getting better. Not just in terms of their aesthetics (that’s a matter of opinion, of course) but in the way they’re made and their ergonomics. It would be incredibly easy for Kurono to just keep cranking out new colorways, but every new release is indicative of subtle refinements to the brand’s approach, applying new techniques with every watch.
Their latest, the Chronograph 3 “Hisui”, is a great example of the way the brand has made little changes and continues to experiment while still hewing close to what has become a distinct house style. Kurono’s chronographs have evolved into colorful “sector” designs over the years, and this example has what I think is a very appealing mint green colorway that nicely complements earlier releases that have featured red, salmon, and gray tones.
The name of the watch reveals the design inspiration. “Hisui” is Japanese for jade, and according to the brand the germ of the idea for this watch came from Asaoka collecting a particular piece of jadeite along the coast of Itoigawa many years ago. Jade mining is banned in Japan, so Kurono used a technique known as pointillism, using tiny dots of paint to create a larger image, on the dial to simulate natural jadeite. Micro-metallic particles are then integrated into the finish, which are meant to mimic the minerals that would be found in real jade stones. As with other watches Kurono has made in the past, the final step is sealing the dial with a thick coat of lacquer, a technique which is becoming something of a trademark for the brand, particularly with respect to their chronographs.
Beyond the lovely green color, the design of the watch is very much in the same Art Deco inspired tradition that we’ve seen repeated in nearly every Kurono release. My personal favorite detail is the round, polished studs that are used for hour markers, and the oversized “12” at the top of the dial.
The Chronograph 3 benefits from Kurono’s slimmer and more refined chronograph case, introduced last year (see Zach Weiss discuss it here on A Week in Watches). As an owner of an earlier Kurono chronograph, I can confirm that the previous case was a bit chunky. The new one is slimmer, measuring 13.5mm tall (including the crystal) and 38mm in diameter. More important than the actual measurement, however, is the design of the case itself, which has been reworked to visually hide its thickness through subtle improvements to the lug profile and case construction. It still houses the Seiko built NE86 chronograph caliber, and Kurono proudly states that this might be the thinnest watch to use that movement.
Kurono is not saying exactly how many examples of the Hisui will be produced, only that it’s a limited edition in the hundreds. They are offering two ordering windows next week: the first on November 20 at 9:00 PM eastern time, and the second on November 21 at 9:00 AM. The retail price is $3,460, and delivery is expected next month. More information on the ordering process and additional details on the watch can be found at Kurono’s website.