The Presage collection from Seiko has always been about combining Japanese knowhow in mechanical watchmaking with tremendous value, and while the international launch of the collection only occured in 2016, it has gained a sizeable following all over the world.

This has been due, in no small part, to some of the more interesting watches in the collection, with the most special models incorporating traditional Japanese crafts in dial production. So far there have been models in “Urushi” lacquer, blue Enamel, grand feu enamel and Shippo enamel, with each release garnering more fans to the collection.

Certainly, one of the great things about these watches with their unique dials is that you would expect something like them to be very expensive or difficult to get due to limitations of production on account of the hand craftsmanship involved. Thankfully this isn’t the case, with relatively large edition numbers and prices that are quite affordable.The new model, the Seiko Presage Urushi Byakudan-nuri, is in the context of the watches, special in that it is made by combining three related traditional Japanese crafts in the dial, with the basis for its inspiration being the appearance of the sky at dawn. What we see in the dial therefore is the reddish colour of the day of the week and date subdials set against the deep black sky represented by the jet black Urushi lacquer.

Urushi lacquer is created by hand painting black lacquer onto the metal base of the dial, after which it is allowed to dry and then hand polished, with the process repeated again and again by the craftsman until the right intensity of black is achieved. With the foundation of the dial achieved, the slightly elaborate lacquer technique known as Byakudan-nuri, used to represent the reddish dawn sky is then added, and is made by painting, on top of the black Urushi dial, another layer of Urushi lacquer as a binding agent, before fine metallic powder is sprinkled on top. Then a red tinged, semi-transparent Urushi lacquer is applied in the same steps as before, by being painted, dried and polished. Here it is the metallic powder that accounts for the speckled texture seen in the reddish sub-dial.Finally a third Japanese craft, Maki-e, which literally means “sprinkled picture” is used to decorate the crescent shaped power reserve indicator as well as the end tip of the central seconds hand. A gold coloured powder is sprinkled on the portion of the dial, using Urushi lacquer applied as an adhesive in the shape of the moon. Thereafter the craftsman taps the dial gently to spread the powder evenly and finally completing the dial.  

Urushi master Tamura (pictured here) and his team were responsible for the intricate work done of the dials of this new limited edition watch.

This is a watch that is satisfying to own and wear precisely because of the bullet proof reliability of a Seiko, and the arts on the dial contains that speak to the provenance of the brand. With features such as a power reserve indicator at 9 o’clock day, a day of the week sub-dial at 3 o’clock and date sub-dial at 6 o’clock, along with a centrally mounted seconds hand, this is a useful watch to wear everyday and a strong contender for the most complicated to make of the special dial versions of the Presage collection. The Seiko Presage Urushi Byakudan-nuri is limited to 2000 pieces worldwide.

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