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A Private Omakase Hitori Event to Celebrate the Yoshino Blossom Signature
Watch Review

A Private Omakase Hitori Event to Celebrate the Yoshino Blossom Signature

May 28, 2024

This year was a particular year for the indie brand Hitori Watch Co. It’s a year where it continues relentlessly to put out exceptional timepieces with value proposition despite a turbulent time on Earth. We can see that war still prevails, recessions continue, and the watch market is inevitably impacted in several ways. However, Hitori came forth with resilience and launched its all-new collection, the Yoshino series, a watch that keeps the traditional Japanese flair and the price lower than $800USD. In fact, the quality and designs got even better than before.

In this series, a few colourways are unique in quality, just as the case execution, which I will introduce shortly and extensively. And in particular, Hitori launched a beautiful pastel pink version that is offered to both the brand’s and Gnomon Watches’ friends and family. Behold, the 50 pieces limited Blossom Signature. Let’s dive into the watch before dropping more photos of the dining event to celebrate this model.

Hitori, The Wanderer

Known for its blend of traditional, modern craftsmanship and oriental East-Asian design, Hitori or, “ひとり” basically stands for “一人” which further means “one person” in Japanese. With the name in mind, you get a sense of what’s coming from this brand. Hitori Watch Co. sets out to be an independent brand that brings timepieces like few others – at a pre-eminently excellent price point for a painstakingly well-executed mechanical watch. Not only that, but through the influence of Japanese culture, and most importantly, their traditional modus operandi. The philosophy in watchmaking displayed by this indie brand is all about value proposition, which shows notably in both the mechanical and aesthetic sides. That said, Hitori builds a unique experience for its community.

Hitori’s first two instalments are the Ryukyu Diver and Habuka 39 collections. Both reflected on Japanese deep culture, incorporating elements that reflect the nation’s aesthetics, traditions, and cultural motifs. Today, the exceptional watch brand continues to elevate the overarching themes with its latest series – the Yoshino collection.

The Inspiration of The Yoshino Series

The “Yoshino” watches are significantly inspired by the cherry blossoms of Mount Yoshinoyama (吉野山, Yoshino-yama), located in the town and district of Yoshino itself, in Nara prefecture. Fame for having more than 30,000 sakura flowering cherry trees, it has inspired ancestry Japanese wake poetry and folk songs for centuries, including a Kokinshū waka in the 10th-century poetry compilation Kokin Wakashū (“Collection of Japanese Poems of Ancient and Modern Times”). And now, the religious mountain continues its magic, influencing Hitori with a new collection that distilled its “mystical” charm and enchantress “sakura”.

This imminent Yoshino collection grabs the spotlight with its incredible nostalgic timepieces that redefine the classic style uniquely to the land of the rising sun—made proudly in Asia to complete the savoir fairé. This dazzling bezel-less watch case imbues a particular architectural form, which prominently reflects the “Grammar Of Design” ethos established by Seiko’s designer, Mr. Taro Tanaka-san. The oriental case design is balanced with a beautiful nature-inspired textured dial that instils the “sakura” blossom colour hue.

A G.O.D Case Design

Made out of 316L stainless steel, the Friends Only Yoshino Blossom measures 39.6mm in diameter, a height of 10.55mm (without the crystal), and a lug-to-lug length of 46.8mm. The well-thought-out dimensions of this 100m water-resistant watch are crafted meticulously to fit comfortably on any of our wrist sizes. The case design of the Yoshino is straight out of the mid-sixties, instantly recognizable by any watch aficionados who came across vintage Grand Seikos during an era when the emerging brand from Japan wanted to match up against those Swiss manufacturers in terms of watch designs. One of its designers outlined specific rules that would later be sealed in Seiko’s and Japan’s history. Even the modern Grand Seikos still follow strictly today.

So, in 1959, Mr. Taro Tanaka-san was a fresh graduate onboarded by Seiko. He aimed to create designs that focus on essential elements, removing anything unnecessary or excessive. The emphasis is on simplicity and clarity. By 1962, he developed a series of rules inspired partly by the art of gem cutting and coined them the “Grammar of Design”. These rules boiled down to four basic tenets:

1. All surfaces and angles from the case, dial, hands and indices had to be flat and geometrically perfect to reflect light best.

2. The bezels were to be simple two-dimensional faceted curves. (Yoshino has a purer form, which abandons one totally.)

3. No visual distortion was to be tolerated from any angle, and all watch cases and dials should be mirror-finished.

4. Lastly, all cases must be unique, and no more generic round case designs.

Since creating these four rules, the Japanese watchmaker followed suit and made several iconic models that best reflected these strict criteria. The “Grammar of Design” has stood the passage of time, and to many of us, it reflects one authentic spirit of Japanese craftsmanship. 

*A thing to note is that the term “Grammar of Design” refers to a set of design principles or guidelines that provide a framework for creating visually appealing and harmonious designs. It is not specific to Seiko or any particular entity but is a broader/common concept applicable to design disciplines. Therefore, Hitori has added a few more rules to their design:

5. Balance: Maximize visual equilibrium by harmonizing elements throughout the design.

6. Proportion: Ensuring the size and scale of elements are proportionate to one another and the overall design.

7. Contrast: Utilizing colour, texture, or size differences to create visual interest and emphasis.

8. Unity: Creating a cohesive and harmonious composition using consistent elements, colour schemes, or styles.

9. Typography: Applying principles of typography to ensure legibility, hierarchy, and appropriate use of fonts. 

10. Colour Theory: Understanding how colours interact, complement, or contrast to evoke specific emotions or convey messages.

11. Functionality: Balancing aesthetics with practical considerations ensures the design effectively serves its intended purpose.

Therefore, Hitori decided to pursue the same essentials as Seiko with the addition of the guidelines mentioned above, meticulously crafting a beautiful multi-finished case emphasizing both balanced and harmonious proportions and tying together the natural beauty of colours, fonts and textures on the dial, all with attention to detail.

The unique case design harks back to the mid-sixties and is unlike any elegant timepieces we usually come across due to its facets and bezel-less design. The sides extend fluidly from one end to another as if they are both the watch’s lugs themselves. Each side crisps sharply at every angle (not going to cut your fingers to an extent), even when seen and touched. As Habuka wants to create the Yoshino as a daily beater, It clads a beautiful screw-down crown with its logo, providing a proper 100m water-resistant.

Paying more emphasis on the much-elaborated case-finishing as it’s worth a mention. As Hitori imbues much of Japanese watchmaking culture, it pushes its crafts to the next level apart from its design. The multi-facet case flaunts high polishing works with high precision and quality. The brand adopted several “integration polishing techniques”, which can only be done by true masters with many years of polishing experience. Every surface of the bezel-less case – including inner lugs that are visible – has been polished with lots of attention and skills, resulting in flawless satin finishings on the sites, only to be broken off by its thick chamfers with distortion-free mirror-polished finishings. The whole process takes more than seven steps. We could not acknowledge Hitori’s level of doing among other brands whose price points are significantly higher than this Yoshino.

A Legible And Double Signed Dial

The Yoshino design principles continue to focus on legibility. Therefore, the brand enhanced the clarity with a tailored domed crystal applied with inner anti-reflective coatings to ensure anyone can easily read the time at a glance. The Grammar Of Design rules are then carried onto the dial underneath the crystal. 

Let’s Start with its applied markers. Each baton-shaped block mimics its case’s shape. Each marker has mirror-polished facets on the sides, finishing in tandem with a punctilious satin finish on the top surface. These elements can be further seen on the sharp handsets, resulting in harmonious yet minimalistic aesthetics while being distortion-free. Believe us when we say that, as we could clearly define every detail on the dial at any angle.

The Grand Seiko Grammar of Design embodies the brand’s commitment to excellence, precision, and craftsmanship. It combines traditional Japanese aesthetics with modern design principles to create visually captivating and highly functional watches. The blossom light pink dial grants a nature-inspired texture that reminds one of many fluffy cotton flakes overlapping. The markers and handsets are complemented by the high gloss metal trims on the date display at 3 o’clock with a shorter applied marker at the edge. This strategic detail is a testament to Hitori’s prowess, careful consideration, and immense effort in its design. Each hand is perfect in length, reading off individual markers on the dial and minute rehaut dutifully without feeling stubby.

For the first time in watch history, the textured dial is balanced off with the gilt “Hitori” logo at the top and a beautiful Chromie Squiggle NFT, with 17 colour spread signed with “one out of fifty” texts down at the bottom.

Taking all things as a whole, Yoshino’s design is focused on the concept of reflection and interaction with light in perfect harmony, adhering to the “Grammar of Design” theme.

When Horology Meets Generative Art

So what’s with that rainbow squiggly line at the bottom of the dial? Simply put, it is both a digital art enacting as one’s signature and an NFT while at that.

Created by Erick Calderon, pseudonymously known as Snowfro, Chromie Squiggles is the first NFT project of Art Blocks, a platform for generative art projects directly on the Ethereum blockchain. Art Blocks is a market leader hosting cutting-edge on-chain gen art from notable artists worldwide.

It all started in 2017 when Snowfro was dabbling with coding, projection mapping, 3D printing and generative art. He thought the blockchain was among the best mediums for generative art distribution.

Generative art may be unfamiliar to many of us in traditional collecting, including watches, but it has been around and emerging rapidly thanks to NFT technology. Art is made using a predetermined system, often of an element of chance – usually applied to computer-based art. 

Best yet, no one would know the art’s output during the launch.

(Photo Credit: Squiggle DAO)

And being the genesis Art Blocks collection, Chromie Squiggles are 10,000 unique long-form works that pioneer new ways for people to interact with digital art. They are both animated and interactive, where viewers can toggle the colour cycling, change the background colour, and change the colour rotation.

Simple and easily identifiable, each Squiggle embodies the soul of the Art Blocks platform. Considering each my signature as an artist, developer, and tinkerer.


So why is it a big deal? It is easier to understand when you are a watch collector. You look for collectability, provenance, originality, and emotional desirability. As the Chromie Squiggle is already an art itself, it is also the first generative work to be entirely generated onto the blockchain itself (yes, many weren’t, as the serial numbers point to the art’s image on a centralized server), becoming immortal and immutable.

Since Hitori is a brazen watchmaking brand that dares to be different, the brand has invited a collector to have his Chromie Squiggle art piece, number #5645, “signed” on the Yoshino dial. Now, that is called digital art within the art of horology.  

And since it’s a partnership through friendship, the brand has decided this double-signed series would only have 50 pieces be made and will not be available for public sales.

A Japanese Watch Design With A Japanese Movement

With its screw-down case-back, the reverse side belies essential information and proudly exhibits its Japanese engine within. Right underneath reveals another Hitori’s oriental choice of mechanical movement: the automatic calibre NH35. The Japanese 12-ligne movement is made with 24 jewels with manual winding and quick date correction capabilities, all done through the 3 o’clock screw-down crown. Beating away nostalgically at 3Hz/21,600BPH, it allows the user to have hacking seconds for precise time-setting, all that with around 41 hours of power reserve when fully wound. Another feature would be the “Ultraviolet” winding rotor, which will never be the same as the next, creating an appealing look which pairs harmoniously with the watch overall.

A Full Japanese Cultural Experience 

“As this is a unique model, Gnomon Watches has allowed owners of the Yoshino Signature to join them in an evening Omakase experience in Singapore. All selected buyers would enjoy this form of Japanese dining at Eizou Sakabar, in which each of them leaves themselves in the hands of a chef and receives a seasonal, elegant, artistic meal with the finest ingredients available. This would be the first real-life perk of being Hitori’s friend and a reward token to thank each one for their support. “

As the launch was relatively successful, where we sold all of them within the first four hours, we managed to gather thirteen of them to join us on a Friday evening for a full 10-course Omakase meal. And oh boy, were each of them being in for a treat by our friends over at Eizou Sakabar.

Best of all, the chefs themselves are equally as passionate as us and the brand, as they even acquired the Yoshino Signature (yes, they are part of our fam), and they prepared this intimate dining experience in the spirit of Hitori. The exquisite dining experience was prepared all from scratch, from flying in several fresh fishes from Japan a few days before to the curated sake for each dish, especially from the Nara prefecture (where Mount Yoshino is located). That’s the amount of details they had as Hitori with its watches.

Guests sat down one by one from 7pm in the evening and were quickly served with heartwarming sides like fried lotus roots and chicken skin, a favourite among Japanese to go with their beers. We managed to bring over some of Hitori’s older models and two new versions of Yoshino, which are set to drop within the next few months.

Once all the guests were sited down, the chefs took it away by introducing the first course and the first sake to go with it. And it started off with a bang. We all smelled the freshness and sweet scent of the sake by swirling it in the wine glass and were blown by the combination once we took our first mouth of the food together.

Every course was a build-up of fine Japanese delicacies and sakes. Our team Gnomon, also took the time to share what Hitori is about and how Yoshino and the generative digital art came together. It was such a perfect opportunity to share our passion, from the watch brand and Gnomon ourselves, and bring this sumptuous meal as a gift for Hitori’s community of supporters.

Throughout the evening, our Hitori family was brought on an unforgettable journey through the food and drinks. They even got to see each of the chefs at work, preparing and cooking each dish from scratch till the end, while their partners helped us pour some fine Sake into our glasses every time we were done with it. 

At the end of the evening, we all gathered to take wrist shots of the Yoshino Signature and a group photo together. Though the evening was short-lived, as each of us enjoyed it so thoroughly, Gnomon and Hitori had assured those members and our other customers that this was just the beginning of our journey of building a close community of watch lovers. Thank you to everyone who acquired a Hitori watch, and thank you for having Gnomon as part of your watch-collecting journey.

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