Now these watches are a bit more of what I think of when someone says to me "urushi painted dial." As a follow-up to the Ananta Urushi Diver from last year, Seiko has released two new urushi watches for 2012. This time they remedied one of the principle issues of last year's limited edition urushi watch. See those red stripes on the Ananta Limited Edition Kumadori Chronograph dial? Well those are hand-painted in urushi lacquer - a special natural lacquer from a tree in Japan. I am not actually sure about the rest of the dial. Why is this important? Mainly because there is a very clear idea that something is special about the dial.
The Ananta Urushi Diver from last year had an urushi dial that looked basically black. Unless you knew it was done in urushi or looked really close - it would be difficult to know anything was special about it. Sure the person wearing it would know, but when you include something really nice like a hand-painted urushi dial, it is probably a good idea to make sure you can tell it apart from other dials. The Kumadori name also has to do with a type of face paint applied to actors in Japanese Kabuki performances.
Aside from the special urushi stripes, the Ananta Kumadori Chronograph (ref. SRQ015) has a ring of red urushi around the movement in the exhibition caseback on the rear of the watch. I liked that detail. Otherwise it is the same Ananta Chronograph with the Seiko produced 8R28 automatic chronograph that is quite popular. The case is almost 43mm wide in steel, with a black IP coating. Seiko sticks to the fact that their IP coating is very tough. In fact, they even call it "hard black" coating. Though I do wish that with their extreme talents they either discuss its durability or move to a DLC coating solution. That would really upgrade their status in my opinion.
With the mostly black case and red and white accents on the dial, the watch looks fashionable and instrumental. All the grace of the Ananta Chronograph is still there. It really is one of the sexiest and most classic looking tool watches Seiko has designed. Can I ask another question? Why isn't Seiko matching urushi dials with watches that have Spring Drive movements? Don't get me wrong, Seiko mechanical movements aren't at all bad, but their Spring Drive movements are awesome. Over the last two years I have noticed a lack of focus on Spring Dive, and I am not sure why. Next year I hope that the next limited edition Seiko Urushi watch will contain a Spring Drive movement.
The Seiko Ananta Limited Edition Kumadori Chronograph will be limited to 800 pieces and be offered globally at a price of 4,000 Euros. There is also this other model which apparently is Japan market only (update, this other model will be available in the US as well and is known as the ref. SSD001). Note that in the US the "Brightz" name is not used. This retro 70s style chronograph also uses urushi on the dial and is the Seiko Ananta Brightz Limited Edition 2012 Chronograph (ref. SAEH011). Also limited to 800 pieces, it uses the Seiko caliber 6S28 automatic chronograph movement. This is similar to the 8R28 but with a different layout. The movement has horizontal clutch (swing pinion) and column wheel for the chronograph. On this model the dial is urushi, but I have a feeling the hands are painted red in a different manner. Though the watch still looks really cool. The squared chronograph subdials are fun looking as the dial still retains a very high level of legibility. I believe that the Brightz's price is a bit below that of the Kumadori. I have to say that both 2012 limited edition urushi painted dials are good looking pieces and I look forward to seeing what comes next.