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In the world of horology, typically the mechanical watch genre, there's a nebulous stratum of design choices and pricing for watch enthusiasts. Often, in the case of fine watchmaking, as we know it, it exists on a broad scale spectrum. We have the utilitarian and affordable ones at one end, with rather compelling execution on fit and finishing. Then some are crafted superfluously with premium price tags, like those horology powerhouses.
As cliche as it sounds, we seldom see uncompromising aspects where a sturdy everyday watch with extravagant refinement could come at an affordable price, but there are genuinely some. However, in recent times, many that claim to be don't gain access to and handle the watches. Few have successfully conveyed this vision on the flip side, as nascent Hitori ひとり Watch Co. has with their exemplary watches.
Hitori Yoshino Snowdrift White
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.
Nature-inspired textured dial that instils the "sakura" blossom colour hue
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.
Upon the designers' imaginations in Hitori, they wondered, “Imagine the snow season in Yoshino. Let us splash some snowy white colour which based off our coveted Habuka 39, onto the Yoshino "sakura" dial.” Thus, with this brave decision, we welcome Yoshino Snowdrift White.
Convex metallic date window frame incorporated with polish finishing on each facet
A G.O.D Case Design
Made out of 316L stainless steel, the 70 pieces limited edition Yoshino Snowdrift White 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-resistance 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.
Spectacular polish results in ritzy and sleek surfaces with impressive multi-finishing
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: Achieving visual equilibrium by distributing elements harmoniously 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 with one another to evoke specific emotions or convey messages.
11. Functionality: Balancing aesthetics with practical considerations ensures the design effectively serves its intended purpose.
Drilled lug holes for swapping straps with ease
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.
Automatic winding-rotor harmonized beautifully
A Legible And Serene 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 that anyone can easily read the time at a glance. The Grammar Of Design rules is 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 sakura textured snow white dial grants a seasonal-inspired texture that reminds one of many deposit of snow sculpted by wind into a mound during the season. 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. Whats unique about this particular timepiece is its mesmerising blue second hand done in mirror-polished finishing. This strategic detail is a testament to Hitori's prowess, careful consideration, and immense effort in its design. Each hand, including its blue second hand, is perfect in length, reading off individual markers on the dial and minute rehaut dutifully without feeling stubby.
The textured dial is balanced off with the metallic "Hitori" logo at the top and blueish ”Yoshino // Automatic" text 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.
Sports bracelet with the emblematic "ひとり" engraved
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 Sporty Bracelet That Elevates Everything
Each Yoshino watch comes on a reliable 20mm sports bracelet with the emblematic "ひとり" engraved clasp onto the strap option. The Yoshino bracelet is thoroughly designed and fabricated - from the nifty "integration polishing techniques" to execute its satin-polished surface, only to be contrasted with mirror-finished stripes in the middle and sides, to the ergonomic yet robust solid end-links - giving the case and bracelet not only a uniform look but a sense of purpose. Each screwed link is crafted to the same level as its ritzy case without compromising sturdiness and comfortability. Once handled upon the bracelet, the quality punches way above its price point, unlike most metal bracelets you held before. Trust us, pick one up, and you will get what we meant immediately.
With the considerate drilled lug holes, strap hobbyists can easily change to other straps. In addition, Hitori has an assortment of fabric NATO and rubber straps, allowing wearers to switch up the vibe to their liking while still having a complete Hitori package.
|On the wrist|
Crafted to the highest standard yet to be found near the expected price point, the Yoshino exudes marvellous quality with attention to essential details in their enduring accents that honour Japanese craftsmanship, particularly in watchmaking. The Grammar of Design watch has all the prerequisites of a perfect everyday watch yet is distinguishable with its sophisticated quality and ideal proportions. The watch lavishes dashing elegance and ravishing dial texture, making it a perfect companion for practically any situation. The combination of premium materials, finishings, and dial works is captivating, exuding a classic Midas vibe that punches way above its weight.
And for the first time, Hitori Watch Co. is committed to building up its community and supporters to another level. Each owner of any Hitori's watch would be part of the brand's journey, where future incentives would be integrated or rewarded to each individual. Owners would also be part of the brand's upcoming projects in the watch space, such as customizability on existing and future watch collections and even a real-life experience solely for its collectors. Hitori Watch Co. and their community are in this for the long term, where owners are equally as important as the brand's watchmaking.