Kurono Tokyo is the second watch company of renowned independent watchmaker Hajime Asaoka. Demand for the watch is constantly increasing as people are getting more interested in independents. The result has ended with the company constantly monitoring the secondary market and creating a tier system for future releases.
I’ll admit I have decided to purchase his accessories in the hopes of getting one of his watches (sound familiar?). It’s also only mandatory that I purchase a strap being a strap reviewer. However, I won’t be showing the strap with a watch to show the respect that this strap only has to go with one of his works. This means that this review will purely be on a visual inspection without being able to test it out on the fields.
The price is JPY¥13,850 (US$129) excluding shipping. Shipping to Australia was around JPY¥868 and it can change depending on the actual price prior to shipping depending on the country.
The packaging is on par with the usual box and velvet pouch. This comes in a box wrapped with twine.
The strap is wrapped with a parchment paper printed with the history and specifications of the strap. A very nice touch.
The detailed specifications of the strap can be found on the website. A quick skim of the specification would be good, but not required as I will be covering them here.
The strap at a quick glance is really beautiful. The patina has a very unique shade and colour which is contributed by the hand-dyed from the anticatura patina technique. As the strap ages with more use, so does the colour making each strap more unique from each other.
The stitches were kept to a minimum to maintain a minimalistic and clean look. Most of the time this could mean that the stitches can split after a few years, but Kurono has it covered. They have reduced the risk of that happening with stronger edge binders while taking into consideration that the strap is not meant for serious activities.
The strap is made from vegetable-tanned calf leather for both top and lining on the underside. As such, it’s already very supple out of the box and ready to use.
The edges are painted and sanded evenly, with a small defect (see next paragraph). For most parts, I find that this is the best one I’ve seen in any strap that I have ever purchased.
Being hand-made, however, the strap is not perfect and can have a flaw or two. In my case, I think something got stuck on the edges after it was sanded which left some rough residue. The sanding also became uneven because of it. Nonetheless, for a fully hand-made strap, it’s still exceptional. Quoting from the website, “Each strap is hand-cut, and from hand-pencilled stencils. Patina is then rubbed onto the leather by hand. The only machine elements used are using laser engravers for the Hiroshige script and signing our logo.”
The logo is also laser engraved which is the only part not hand-made. The spring bar is also included in this strap. I find that it’s quite a tight installation that you won’t easily be able to fit in your own initially when the strap is new.
The keepers follow the same shade with the strap having the edges darker as it quickly gradients to a red in the middle. It’s thick so stiffness is to be expected initially. As the strap is also meant to be a replacement, a buckle is not included.
There’s plenty of details that cannot be seen from the outside. This makes this strap really special. Below are some of the lines quoted from the website.
- All Hiroshige straps are engraved with legendary ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Hiroshige’s original handwritten poem from an original artwork ca. 1840. The poem is loosely translated as:’The moon indulges into the night in various ways.’
- As the Hiroshige script is derived from an original artwork owned by Kurono, it is unique to Kurono and cannot be replicated elsewhere.
- In homage to Hajime-sensei’s lineage from a family of samurai sword makers on his patrilineal side, the long end of the strap is hand-cut obliquely to mimic the edge of a wakizashi katana. This samurai blade shape symbolizes strength, power and the bond between a samurai and his blade, or in this case, the irreplaceable relationship formed between the collector and his watch.
For the price, it’s a no brainer this is the replacement strap to get if you have a Kurono Tokyo watch. From the story all the way to the craftsmanship, it’s a bargain for what you get. Even with the slight flaw, I will be ranking this as 10/10. All that is left now is for me to own one of his pieces to fit this in.
I am also currently recording my very first YouTube video featuring this strap. Stay tuned!