Those of you who live in or visit New York City should check out a little boutique called Dedegumo. I recently learned about this shop and look forward to going there myself. Dedegumo has a few other store locations, but they are all in Kyoto, Japan. Dedegumo is a sort of watch maker. They don't make movements, but rather create artistic watch cases, dials, and strap. All very steampunkish, all very Japanese.
According to Dedegumo, they hire artisans who are Japanese trained to make all the little parts for these fascinating timepieces. All of this seems to be based on some old technique from Kyoto - so I will just take their word for it. These artisans reside in the boutiques and are making watches all the time in there while you shop. Using many of the same tools as watch makers, they create custom little parts and designs for these artistic timepiece creations.
Dedegumo states that the only part of the watch (other than the crystal) that is pre-made is the movement. Which are all Japanese Seiko quartz movements by the way. The rest are crafted out of brass, steel, copper, and aluminum. Using long straps of colorful leather, they make unique straps and their own buckles. It is all very cool and hip in a sort of organic, artisinal way. This is the country French bread of watches. These are gonna be quite trendy if I have any powers of prediction. I'd like to go into one and have them make me something cool.
Unlike the perfection and straight lines we tend to think of when it comes to much of Japanese design, these pieces draw on less mechanical aesthetics and focus more on inspiration from nature, age, history, as well as mystery. Anyone familiar with the steampunk look quickly associate these watch in to that genre.
I believe the idea at Dedegumo - in addition to the individual watches - is customization and unique ideas. Come in and describe an idea or desired color theme and they will put something together for you. People who have bought from the store seem to rave about the process, the product, as well as the packaging (but isn't that latter element to be expect from all nice Japanese things?).
Next time I am in NYC I will go check it out. Prices for Dedegumo watches are reported to be between $400 - $750. Check them out.