This is one for the “better late than never” file. Last week, Kurono Tokyo launched their latest collection of watches, a series of four sector dials that quickly sold out after being made available on Friday morning. These watches, sized at just 34mm, are part of the “Special Projects” series that Kurono has undertaken, which seem to be personal labors of love from watchmaker Hajime Asaoka. On the webpage where these watches were announced, he writes about his own preference for 34mm watches, and not being sure of their mass appeal. When Kurono last experimented with a 34mm case size, the watches quickly sold out at a pop-up event, and that inspired Asaoka to make another run, in a new batch of colors. The near immediate sell out of this new collection would indicate to most observers that he’s onto something.
I’m a big fan of Kurono and enjoy that they produce watches in a more traditional size. It just seems to suit Asaoka’s design sensibilities – it’s tough to imagine the Toki, for example, being nearly as appealing in a 40mm case. That said, 34mm is a little small for me, but I have a big wrist, and the 37mm cases that Kurono favors are at the low end of my sweet spot. That means that a lot of people with “average” sized wrists will probably find 34mm to be a nice fit if they’re going for a more classic and subtle look. Kurono cases are always designed in such a way as to maximize comfort and wearability, which I think can largely neutralize any lingering thoughts that a watch is wearing too small. When it feels great on the wrist, you’re willing to accept certain dimensions that you might otherwise scoff at.
The new 34mm watches are incredibly simple, and can be seen as a distillation of what Kurono has done to this point. The design language has always been heavily Art Deco influenced, and the colorful sector dial designs seen here are a kind of stripped down version of that aesthetic. The “Darkmist” and “Smoke” variants play with shades of green and gray, and could be inspired by vintage military and field watches, while the “Midnight” and “Persimmon” use colors that are a little louder. A deep blue on the Midnight, and a yellowish orange for the Persimmon. The latter pair also forego the large Arabic numerals found in the Darkmist and Smoke dials for simple hash marks, which accentuate sector dial layouts. The same syringe style handset is used on all four variants.
The 34mm cases are just 9.6mm thick, and are mated to Miyota 90S5 automatic movements with 40 hours of power reserve. Only 150 examples of each variant will be produced, and at a price equivalent to a little over $1,000, it’s not actually much of a surprise that all 600 watches were spoken for fairly quickly. If you were lucky enough to snag one, you can expect delivery later this month, unless you chose the Midnight or Darkmist variants, which will begin shipping in April.
For more information on this new line of smaller Kurono pieces, head to their website, and be sure to get on the mailing list for updates on future releases.