Probably the most intently adopted names in unbiased Japanese horology expands its oeuvre with yet one more restrained, manually wound three-hander — bursting on the seals with 1950s attraction.
A number of weeks in the past, I had the pleasure of being invited to The Armoury for one of many international males’s retailer’s newest burgeoning initiatives — the Zoom trunkshow. For quite a lot of now well-documented causes, all the artisans who often see to Hong Kong prospects in particular person have needed to acclimate to a extra hands-off methodology; and on this event, that meant small batches of shoppers seated round a dwell feed, talking to the Japanese indie watchmaker Naoya Hida.
By the use of introduction: Naoya Hida (the model) is a particularly contemporary enterprise. Launched in 2018, it comes because the end result of over 30 years within the Japanese watch business. Initially, Hida-san started his profession in gross sales and advertising, representing a ‘who’s who’ of watchmakers fashionable with Japan’s amassing group. That meant Breguet, Vacheron, JLC; and subsequently, a stint because the Japanese consultant for the notoriously foul-tempered (but gifted) F.P. Journe. So far, Hida-san has solely launched three timepieces underneath his personal identify — the latest of which is the main focus right here.
Just like the equally sterile sounding Kind 1B (the model’s inaugural launch), the brand new Kind 2A is worlds other than the brash, trendy, bedazzled watchmaking that has come to dominate a lot of the dialog surrounding 21st century horology. And that’s exactly the purpose. With every new launch, Hida-san’s aim is to maneuver nearer to a uniquely Japanese archetype of the ‘best wristwatch’ — translating (in additional tangible phrases) to a design that’s delicate, traditionally congruous and able to longevity.
To that finish, the Kind 2A iterates on many design cues launched in Hida-san’s first watch, however transposes them to a brand new configuration of dial. We’ll begin by tackling a few of the fundamental ‘signature’ options: As in different Naoya Hida watches, the case is made utilizing 904L chrome steel. Not like the overwhelming majority of commercially made metal watch instances nonetheless — which make use of ‘316L’ metal — this grade of metallic possesses the next diploma of robustness and corrosion resistance. The draw back to those attributes is that 904L metal is relatively tough to machine. In keeping with Hida-san, solely a handful of producers possess the tools (by no means thoughts the talent) to optimise the fabric for case development.
Solid your eye to the dial and in case you’re not paying shut consideration, it’s straightforward to overlook the quintessentially Japanese stage of meticulous effort that has gone into it. Like all of Hida-san’s designs, the structure for the Kind 2A is easy to a degree some would possibly discover extreme. I used to be lucky sufficient to have it in hand for an prolonged interval, and it’s solely with a certain quantity of unhurried interrogation that the watch’s ‘craftiness’ is revealed. Probably the most hanging expression of that is how Hida-san has executed the Arabic numerals (situated at every of the Kind 2A’s cardinal positions). Every quantity is hand-engraved right into a phase displaying the hours — the dial itself is made up of three such discrete segments — and the ensuing channels are then stuffed with an artificial Urushi lacquer that’s favoured for its excessive visibility.
Different seen elements have additionally been handled with the same stage of care and positioned with due regard for his or her environment. For instance, to account for the numerous enhance within the dial’s thickness (ensuing from using three segments) each the hour and minute hand are formed flat on the reverse aspect, that means they’re able to sit virtually flush with the dial.
The motion itself can be value perusing — and never for the same old, largely superficial causes. Regardless of his acknowledged aim of making the best image of Japanese watchmaking, Hida-san has a deep and abiding love for historic Swiss actions. It’s not shocking then that he determined to equip the Kind 2A with a manually-wound, appropriately sized motion. What is peculiar is that the essential structure for this occurs to derive from the Valjoux 7750 — a self-winding calibre initially supposed for chronographs. In some way, Hida-san’s watchmakers have managed to retrofit the 7750 structure with a newly designed ratchet wheel, which in flip imbues the watch’s crown with a super-satisfying click on any time you determine to prime off the facility reserve (45 hours).
Lastly, it’s value acknowledging that, because it stands, each single Naoya Hida wristwatch is a ‘area of interest’ product within the industrial sense of that phrase. Hida-san works very intently with a tight-knit group of watchmakers and suppliers; and for that purpose, is often solely in a position to ship 10-15 items of any given mannequin in a 12 months. In keeping with the crew at Armoury — relying on the way it’s acquired — complete manufacturing numbers for the Kind 2A could possibly be elevated into 2021. That mentioned, trying on the model’s general lineup, it will seem Hida-san prefers to create one or two iterations on a single mannequin, earlier than discontinuing it in favour of one other contemporary design train. “First in finest dressed,” then, I suppose.
The Naoya Hida NH Kind 2A is now accessible for order in Hong Kong, solely via The Armoury. It’s priced at (approx.) HK$152,400.