Japanese watchmaker takes up to one year to make a single timepiece

“I enjoy that only one person is responsible for the entire process. Anyone with a craftsman’s DNA will love to make things by hand,” said Kikuno.

“Watches are not commonly made by just one person. I think there are only a few watches that have been made by a single craftsman. There are even fewer watches made using old-fashioned machines and manual techniques. I think that is what’s unique about my watches,” he shared.

Masahiro Kikuno devotes all his time to craft up to two watches a year. That’s a total of under 20 watches in his short tenure as an independent watchmaker. Not the most economical way to work, but the artisan wouldn’t have it any other way.

Largely inspired by the craftsmen of Japan’s Edo period (1603 to 1868 CE), Kikuno’s creations adhere to the traditional techniques of production, using only a few manually-operated machines.

All his masterpieces are intrinsically Japanese in their beauty and function, and are reflective of his character and passion for history.

“There are many things even the Japanese don’t know about, [such as] the history and culture of making ancient clocks. I hope to apply these techniques and showcase them on an international platform to let people know about our culture through time,” he expressed.

“There were no advanced machines back then, but the craftsmen were able to make such impressive clocks. I thought I’d be able to do the same, and challenge myself to do as much as possible with the existing tools,” he explained.

“Creating this was really difficult but beautiful. While I was trying to make everything by hand, I noticed that the process was really enjoyable. I enjoy rolling the handle, trimming the metals into meaningful pieces and watching everything being built from scratch,” he enthused.

At only 30 years of age, he became the youngest member of the Academie Horlogere des Createurs Independants (AHCI), an exclusive and prestigious association of elite independent watchmakers. This esteemed honour is a nod to Kikuno’s amazing talent, considering his abilities were primarily self-taught. “Without rigorous practice, you can’t develop your skills,” he reminded us.

To give the customer a closer look into the creation of each piece, Kikuno documents the process from start to finish in a journal, and gifts it to the customer along with the final product.

“I hope that people can feel my passion and philosophy when they read my ‘Making Of’ book.”