Watch brand collaboration: Watanabe-Kobo (Tokyo) X 47Ronin Watch Straps
Ever seen some of the unique watch faces of 47Ronin’s watches? Rustic, special, and edgy – today’s blog post will feature the source of these one-of-a-kind watch faces.
Sourced all the way from Japan, these watch faces were thoughtfully handcrafted by Watanabe Kobo (渡辺工房) and the man behind these intricate pieces is none other than Watanabe Masaaki (渡辺正明).
After 7 years of being a regular salaryman, Mr. Watanabe decided to pursue his interest in watchmaking and studied watchmaking with the Japan Handcraft Watch Association (JHA;手造り腕時計協会) in 1997.
Watanabe Kobo’s humble beginnings can be traced to 1998 where Mr. Watanabe worked as a watchmaker for JHA but also pursued his personal craft on the side. In 2007, Watanabe Kobo was established as an independent enterprise. Mr. Watanabe started off by creating women’s watches but found his niche in designing watches for men. Mr. Watanabe’s portfolio ranges from minimalistic designs, to edgy, to elaborate – he’s not afraid to experiment. Each piece is thoughtfully handcrafted with his customers in mind.
With the intention to source for a unique watch face that could complement 47Ronin’s one-of-a-kind straps, I searched online for a reliable watchmaker and found Watanabe Kobo. Drawn in by their interesting designs, I reached out to Watanabe Kobo for a collaboration.
Mr. Watanabe kindly sent over 3 watch faces for me to play around with while I sent over three 20mm watch straps in return. I couldn’t wait to pair the watch faces with the watch straps and was excited when the package arrived! Below are pictures of the unboxing experience.
Package came via registered mail
A handwritten note from Mr. Watanabe – very thoughtful!
Three different types of watch faces received.
I received three types of watches from Watanabe Kobo – mechanical, automatic and quartz-powered. For beginners to watches, mechanical watches are driven by a mainspring which must be hand-wound periodically for it to keep moving. While not as accurate, collectors might appreciate the craftsmanship behind the watch’s movement and intimacy that it offers.
The more mainstream automatic watches are self-winding – meaning the watch uses the natural energy that comes from you wearing it to power its movement.
Lastly, a quartz-powered watch is your everyday battery-operated watch that draws power from the battery to run. The quartz-powered watch face from Watanabe Kobo has a Sun-and-Moon feature which informs the wearer of the time of the day and also adds a nice aesthetic feature to the face.
Sun-and-Moon feature. If it is day time, the watch will show a sun. If it is night time, the moon will appear.
With a creator’s spirit, I got down to mixing and matching the watch faces with various straps to create an overall design which is appealing and intriguing. The colours, designs and thickness of the watch faces and straps were considered and I finally came up with these three watches.
Watches using Watanabe Kobo’s watch faces and 47Ronin’s straps.
I was very pleased with the outcome and was reminded of how one should never be limited to conventions when designing unique handcrafted pieces of art. To celebrate the crowning of a new emperor and the beginning of the new royal era – Reiwa – I created a watch that would convey the joyous heralding of a new emperor.
In return, Mr. Watanabe has also used 47Ronin’s watch straps to complement his watch faces. A picture speaks a thousand words, so I will leave photos here for readers to view.
How Mr. Watanabe has paired the watch faces with straps.
Instagram feature on Watanabe Factory’s Instagram page!
Mr. Watanabe has also kindly featured 47Ronin’s collaboration on their Instagram.
That’s all from me today. Hope readers have gotten a better sense and appreciation of how our watches are created and the different ways watch faces and straps can be paired!
Watanabe Kobo: https://watanabekobo.jimdo.com/, https://www.instagram.com/watanabe_kobo/
47Ronin Watch Straps: 47ronin.co, https://www.instagram.com/47ronin_watchstraps/
Photos: Watanabe Kobo, Kent Chia (https://www.instagram.com/kerzsyt/), 47Ronin
Text: Isabel Yap