Tokyo’s vintage and second hand watch scene is unlike any other you may have experienced. It’s so unique, in fact, that earlier this year Bill Yao of MK II traveled all the way to Japan to do a tour of these shops, which run the gamut from those that focus solely on vintage to those that specialize in modern luxury. He kindly offered to recount his trip for Worn & Wound readers. So check out his story below, and I’ll warn you now; it might end with you booking a flight to the land of the rising sun. -Ilya Ryvin, Managing Editor
I first became enamored with Tokyo watch culture in 1999 after stumbling onto a Smiths 6B, a watch that at the time I had only ever seen in a book, in a store in Shinjuku that also sold candy (yep, you read that right—candy). When I examined the watch, it was gaining a solid 15 seconds every minute, but I purchased it anyway because after years of collecting I had never seen one come up for sale. And though it was pretty beat, it was also all original (side note: that watch spent a year with my watchmaker).
As you would expect, Tokyo has all the standard jewelry stores and brand boutiques, but what makes the collecting scene here especially interesting are the stores that specialize in second hand and vintage watches. You can find them all over Tokyo and in some of the most unlikely places (I repeat— a candy shop), and the experience of walking into one of these shops is truly unique. The vibe is casual, the staff are true professionals, and the selection is, simply put, mind-blowing.
The stores profiled in today’s article are a group of watch stores that have been on my radar for almost 15 years. I have visited Tokyo five times, but 2017 was the first time I was able to carve out time specifically to visit these shops.
If you’re ever in Tokyo but have a limited amount of time, Jack Road in Nakano—a ward in Tokyo just west of the bustling Shinjuku area—should be your first stop. Occupying three store fronts within the Nakano Broadway mall, Jack Road has the largest and most diverse selection of any of the stores I visited on this trip. The walls are quite literally covered in watches. And if you’re worried about a potential language barrier, don’t fret. The staff speaks English, Chinese, and of course, Japanese.