Hong Kong-based UNDONE recently debuted a new member of its theme-watch collection with the UNDONE: Urushi. Intended to celebrate the traditional Japanese lacquer color and resulting artisanship, this mid-size 37mm-wide Tartaruga cushion-case-style watch is a fun look for the money. The dial design is easily the most charming part of this watch. UNDONE’s “Kyoto Dial” face is the brand’s take on the California dial, which replaces Roman numerals with a few Kanji Characters. The look isn’t for everyone, but the rich character it gives the watch is undeniable. I think it feels really appropriate, and I like the look of the Kyoto Dial.
A serious Urushi Maki-E dial this is not. UNDONE is using its own technique to produce an Urushi dial that closely resembles the art of fine Japanese Urushi lacquer — but this isn’t going to be the same visual experience as some of the high-gloss Urishi objects I’ve seen. That isn’t to say the UNDONE: Urushi dial isn’t nice-looking — because it is — but rather that I feel like it is a creative take on Urushi. In particular, I would have liked for the gold flakes on the black background to be a bit shiny in the light. As a fan of Urushi items, it is easy for me to have tall expectations for a product like this, but I think most people will like the UNDONE: Urushi dial well enough.
The dial is, however, covered with a highly reflective sapphire crystal, which isn’t the end of the world but it does making taking clear pictures of the dial very challenging. This could be solved with some expensive AR coating, but perhaps more effectively by playing with the geometry of the sapphire crystal shape. The Tartagura cushion case is pretty nice and feels flattering on the wrist. It has 50 meters of water resistance, with a screw-down crown and a display caseback,
At 37mm-wide, the case is on the smaller side for most men’s watches. It wears large for the size given the broad dimensions of the case, and because of its 12.8mm thickness. That said, this is a watch that’s best for those seeking a case on the smaller side of the men’s watch spectrum. Inside the watch is a Seiko Instrument caliber NH35A automatic movement (3Hz with about 42 hours of power reserve), a popular choice for many UNDONE watches and timepieces in these several-hundred-dollar price ranges. Even though the movement isn’t a beauty by Swiss standards, it will offer a fun view to those who like mechanical watches and who are on a budget.
The UNDONE: Urushi is a successful fashion watch at heart, with a hip look and attractive color palette that shares certain things in common with vintage sport and military watches. The polished steel case and Urushi black dial come paired with a wood-brown leather strap that comes on quick-release spring bars for easy changing.
This “Eastern treat” of a timepiece was simultaneously released with another Japanese-inspired watch that UNDONE produced as a limited edition with Simple Union that you can read about here. For many people, the Urushi is the most practical watch between them, and the little nods to classic military watches, as well as Japanese culture, are integral to the core creative strength that UNDONE is good at. Price for the UNDONE: Urushi watch is $445 USD. Learn more at the UNDONE website here.