Japan is a country with a long history of fine watchmaking. Seiko is widely known for its revolutionary spring drive mechanisms and Citizen for its innovative Eco-Drive movements. Both of these companies have dominated the market for decades. As well as these large conglomerates there are a few small independent brands trying to make their mark on the industry. A few months ago I wrote an article featuring the extraordinarily talented Masahiro Kikuno. His Orizuru prototype watch perfectly fuses contemporary and traditional techniques. Another exceptionally talented Japanese atelier is Hajime Asaoka.
Hajime Asaoka originates from the city of Yokahama and later gained an art degree from the university of Tokyo in 1990. Initially he began his career as an industrial designer and only made the transition into watch making in 2005. From our recent conversations he informed he is completely self taught and driven by passion. He is also the first independent Japanese watchmaker to construct a timepiece with a tourbillon movement. This year (2013) he debuted at Baselworld and unveiled his fantastic Tsunami to a positive critical reception. Out of all of his watches my personal favourite is the wonderful Death Takes No Bride. This sensational timepiece is a collaboration with prolific contemporary artist Takashi Murakami.
The Death Takes No Bride measures a modest diameter of 42mm. These dimensions are smaller than the majority of watches currently available on the market. The trend is certainly moving towards larger bolder timepieces. Never the less this watch should appeal to the serious and discerning collector. I also feel the timepiece would be generally comfortable and lightweight to wear for most occasions. Ultimately this is down to the elegant sculpted case and choice of stainless steel in production.
Visually the watch is absolutely breathtaking and worthy of a place in a museum. Takashi Murakami works in many different media including painting, sculpture, fashion and animation. I have a degree in illustration so the original artwork on the dial completely captivated me. These graphics skillfully depict several different skulls and give the façade a gothic appearance. The images also contrasts with the open worked mechanical elements of the dial. Other cohesive features include the bespoke minute hand, artist signatures and the title of the watch presented in bold red text. I love the overall composition and flawless attention to detail.
The Death Takes No Bride not only looks sensational but also is equipped with a highly complicated caliber. This manual winding movement comprises 17 jewels and oscillates at a frequency of 18,000 vibrations per hour. Each of the watch’s 120 components have been meticulously assembled and decorated by Hajime personally. The timepiece features hours, minutes and a power reserve of 42 hours.
With a limited edition of only 5 pieces the Death Takes No Bride is a highly exclusive timepiece. At the moment the price is still to be confirmed.