Hong Kong-based UNDONE and also Hong Kong-based Simple Union are teaming up again for their third limited-edition timepiece creation inspired by the aesthetic allure of traditional Japanese artisanship. At the same moment, UNDONE is releasing an additional new timepiece creation, also inspired by a traditional Japanese lacquer technique. The two new watches are the UNDONE x Simple Union: Sometsuke and the UNDONE: Urushi, respectively.
UNDONE began its relationship with Simple Union back in 2019 when launching its first limited-edition product that combined Simple Union’s appreciation for traditional Japanese porcelain and fabrics through the artistic lens of wabi-sabi. Often described as identifying the beauty in nature’s imperfections, wabi-sabi is an artistic perspective, as well as an element of traditional Buddhist principles that dictate that nothing is permanent and that there is beauty in flaws. Integral to the product was a special strap produced by Simple Union for UNDONE that used repurposed Katazome fabric, originally produced approximately 150 years ago in Japan. This limited-edition watch was sold out in under two days.
UNDONE and Simple Union share an appreciation for traditional Eastern arts and return with a fresh take that combines a Katazome fabric strap and a novel dial that blends the aesthetic of traditional Japanese pottery with watchmaking. UNDONE and Simple Union further share values in regard to producing accessibly priced, high-quality goods designed to be enjoyed and collected by most any watch hobbyist or Japanese art enthusiast.
UNDONE x Simple Union: Sometsuke Limited Edition
Both the UNDONE x Simple Union: Sometsuke and UNDONE Urushi watches share UNDONE’s still fresh Tartaruga-style cushion-shaped steel case. Considered suitable for men’s or women’s wrists, the 316L stainless steel case is 37mm-wide with a 43.3mm lug-to-lug distance and a case thickness of 12.8mm. Water-resistant to 50 meters, the case is topped with a domed sapphire crystal and has a matching sapphire crystal display caseback offering a view of the movement. Inside of the watch is the Japanese SII NH71 automatic movement which operates at 3Hz with a power reserve of 41 hours. The movement is gold-toned and skeletonized for visual splendor.
The UNDONE x Simple Union: Sometsuke watch dial cleverly integrates a partially skeletonized view of the mechanical movement beneath with the artistic technique of Kintsugi. This technique is when a trained artisan uses gold to mend cracks in porcelain works. The mending process is the perfect manifestation of the Wabi-Sabi aesthetic. For the Sometsuke watch, the authentic white porcelain enamel dial is purposefully “cut” in order to reveal a crack that opens with a view to the beating heart regulation system in the skeletonized Japanese mechanical movement.
The white enamel-style painted dial is printed with appropriate blue hour markers and matching hands. The hour markers are arranged in what UNDONE calls its “Kyoto Dial,” a reinterpretation of the classic “California Dial” known to most watch collectors. Replacing Roman numeral hour markers on the upper hemisphere of the dial are Japanese Kanji characters that represent the concepts of existence, impermanence, suffering, and the absence of self-nature. At the 12 o’clock position is the Simple Union brand logo, while the UNDONE logo is positioned under the 6 o’clock hour marker.
Attached to the Sometsuke watch is a Simple Union strap produced from an indigo-dyed Japanese Katazome fabric strap, which is fitted with quick-release spring bars. The UNDONE x Simple Union: Sometsuke watch is produced as a limited edition of 300 pieces and has a retail price of $488 USD. Learn more or order at the UNDONE website here.
Also newly released from UNDONE and part of the brand’s ongoing appreciation of Japanese art forms is the UNDONE: Urushi. Featuring the same 37mm-wide steel case as the Sometsuke watch, the Urushi focuses on a particular style of Japanese lacquer work. The dial of the Urushi watch is Maki-e-inspired, using the natural deep reddish/brown (nearly black) Urushi lacquer. Prior to curing, the dial is decorated by sprinkling gold powder over the surface, which results in a pleasant organic speckling of color over the enamel base. This artistic technique has been popularized over the ages and can be identified in a number of Japanese products from fine art to tableware.
The UNDONE: Urushi watch dial also features a Kyoto Dial, this time in matching gold tone for a theme-appropriate look. The watch dial also indicates that it is produced using Urushi lacquer, and in red is “50/165” which is actually a reference to the water resistance rating of the case (50 meters, or 165 feet).
Inside the UNDONE: Urushi is a Japanese SII NH35A automatic movement that operates at 3Hz and has a 42-hour power reserve. Attached to the cushion-style case is a brown leather strap that is also set on quick-release spring bars. The UNDONE: Urushi watch is a non-limited edition piece and has a retail price of $445 USD. Learn more or order at the UNDONE website here.
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