Seiko’s Presage line is somewhat of a sleeper hit in horology. It offers the best in high-end mechanical watchmaking but also the beauty of ancient Japanese craftsmanship. For those who eschew flash, the Presage collection offers what one could call up-close luxury, specifically, watches that celebrate the small details.
The best expression of this Presage design ethos yet is the new Arita Porcelain Limited Edition. It is inspired by Suigetsu, the tradition of viewing the moon through its reflection on the surfaces of ponds and the contents of porcelain sake cups, from the Heian Period.
Let’s contemplate this wonderful watch.
BLUE AND WHITE
During the Heian era, from 794 to 1185 AD, Japan enjoyed a long period of prosperity. The arts were a big part of Japan’s cultural identity even back then, and this peaceful time allowed architecture, prose, poetry, and painting to thrive.
Over centuries, the practices borne of the Heian period influenced every creative discipline, including ceramics. For example, in the early 17th century in Arita, a small town on Kyushu, the third-largest island of Japan and situated in the southwest of the archipelago, a special clay suitable for the manufacturing of porcelain was discovered. Arita porcelain is still highly prized worldwide, thanks to its array of uses and the traditional blue and white glazes that embody a uniquely Japanese sensibility.
Likewise, the unique dial of the Arita Porcelain Limited Edition is handcrafted by master artisans, featuring a new snow-white color with a gloss finish that recalls the fineness of the original pottery. The Presage Arita dial production is overseen by craftsman Hiroyuki Hashiguchi in a workshop that’s existed since 1830.
The pure whiteness of the Presage Arita Porcelain dial provides a beautiful contrast between the blue hands and markers. The layout of the central hour and minutes display, sunken calendar dial, and the power reserve indicator, with crescent moon motif, and the calendar sub-dial are a little asymmetrical, keeping with the traditional wabi-sabi belief that beauty is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
And what could be more impermanent than the reflection of the moon on the surface of a lake? Completing the natural imagery of the Arita Porcelain Limited Edition is the silvery sky-toned railroad minute track and the water-colored blue crocodile strap.
For those who want to ponder the impermanence of time, the 40.6mm Presage Arita Porcelain Limited Edition offers top-notch Japanese mechanical watchmaking. This machine is driven by Seiko’s trusty 6R27 29-jewel automatic caliber, which beats at 28,800 vph, and has a 45-hour power reserve. You can observe the motions of this caliber through a screw-down, see-through caseback inscribed with the timepiece’s serial number.
While the idea of imperfection is expressed in tiny dots that are formed as a result of the porcelain-making process, there is also security in the form of the strap’s tri-fold push button release clasp. The watch is also water-resistant to 10 bar (330 feet), and a dual-curved sapphire crystal offers anti-reflective coating on the inner surface.
ONCE IN A BLUE MOON
Like all Presage watches, the Arita Porcelain Limited Edition offers excellent value. For all its artisanal details, the dependable 6R27 movement keeps the cost in the entry-level category. But just because it’s a sleeper hit, don’t sleep on this timepiece – only 2,000 pieces are available.
The Seiko Arita Porcelain Limited Edition will be available in July at a price of $2,050.
By Rhonda Riche
(Photography by Liam O’Donnell)