Introducing the Kurono Tokyo Toki

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Fans of the Kurono Tokyo brand have something of an event to prep for this week, as the latest limited production timepiece from Hajime Asaoka’s affordable side-project goes on sale to the public. Asaoka, as we’ve covered frequently on Worn & Wound, is one of the world’s premier independent watchmakers,  and his custom made creations start in the tens of thousands of dollars – not exactly accessible. He’s created a small sensation with his Kurono Tokyo brand by lending his keen eye for design to a line of watches that are, in theory, easier for those of us with an eye toward value to maintain. In practice, the watches are anything but easy to land, as fans of the brand line up (digitally) to buy one, and sell out in a flash. The new Kurono Anniversary special edition seeks to democratize the project further, with an affordable and attractive watch that’s pure Kurono, released in a way that should make it easier for fans to snag one. 

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The new Kurono Anniversary Toki is the brand’s second watch released to celebrate the founding of the brand. Last year’s Mori was released to kick off a first anniversary celebration, and that watch’s time limited sales system has carried over to the Toki’s release. As some who follow the brand closely no doubt remember, the initial release of the Mori was marred by technical glitches during the checkout process, resulting in what passes these days for some serious watch related Instagram drama. What was supposed to be a limited edition of just 50 pieces wound up swelling to nearly 300 after Kurono, in a move that frankly exudes class and has since been adopted by other brands, decided to offer the watch again in a limited time window, during which any order that was placed would be filled. This year’s anniversary watch uses the same model for ordering, and it would seem to offer real balance to how Kurono sells watches, and gives their fans a chance to acquire one in a somewhat stress free manner without paying an exorbitant price on the second hand market (an idea Kurono rejects completely – they take the step of barring “flippers” from purchasing directly from them again, when they’re caught). 

The Toki is a simple expression of the Art Deco influenced Kuron aesthetic that has been a throughline that can be seen in every watch they’ve made. It’s sized conservatively at just 37mm in diameter, and measures just 11mm thick including the sapphire crystal. The dial has been rendered in a coral shade with a sunburst pattern that Kurono claims shifts dramatically in tone depending on how the light hits it. Applied hour markers at 12, 3, 6, and 9 are affixed atop a series of concentric rings, which exist as pure decoration and work with the outer minute track to create a sector-like effect on the dial. The goal here would seem to be to let the color of the dial take the lead at the dial’s center, but allow for some additional visual interest and contrasting elements near the perimeter. As with other Kurono releases, the design holds together nicely, the details work in conjunction with one another, and placed alongside previous Kurono watches, the new Toki makes a lot of sense and fits in coherently with the Asoaka’s other designs. 

As Kurono has done in the past, they’re using a Miyota movement (the 90S5, to be precise) in the Toki. This decision is possibly the key to the brand being able to offer their watches at a competitive price point without making any sacrifices to Asaoka’s design vision. The off-the-shelf movement is a workhorse and has proven to be reliable, and it’s also thin enough to achieve the proportions that Kurono is looking for with a watch like the Toki. This is not a watch for movement snobs, but is sure to excite watch enthusiasts who are interested in independent watchmaking, or simply admirers of Asaoka’s work, either under his own name or the Kurono imprint. 

The retail price of Toki is set at $1,738. It will go on sale for ten minutes only at 2300 JST on May 21. That’s 10:00 AM on Friday morning on the east coast of the United States, so if you’re interested in buying one, set your alarms, create reminders, and clear your calendar if necessary. Kurono has committed to fulfilling all orders placed within this window, but once it expires, the books on the Toki will be closed. For more information on the watch and the ordering process, be sure to check out Kurono’s website right here.

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.
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