Hermès debuts the Slim Koma Kurabé watch

Hermès brings two worlds together to create 12 one-of-a-kind timepieces with dials made from French porcelain and embellished using the Japanese art of aka-e

by Stef juan

Two worlds are brought together to create 12 one-of-a-kind timepieces with dials made from French porcelain and embellished using the Japanese art of aka-e

From the ateliers of Sèvres, a major center of porcelain making in Europe, located near Paris, all the way to Kyoto, the Slim d’Hermès Koma Kurabe is an exquisite homage to the famous Japanese horse race held once a year in Kamigamo Shrine, an important Shinto sanctuary on the banks of the Kamo River.

The porcelain from France goes through days of processing, from molding, drying, polishing, firing, and glazing before being cut and shaped to form the dials. Then these small, blank
porcelain canvasses are handed to the master of aka-e painting.

Buzan Fukushima is one of the few artisans remaining in Japan who still practices the technique, a type of ukiyo-e (a genre of woodblock prints and paintings) that is printed entirely or predominantly in red.

Fukushima creates visions of Japan in subtly graded shades of red and ocher, polishing them off with a fine layer of gold. The 71-year-old is a maestro of painting on larger decorative items such as vases or dishes, and this is the first time his work will be on a watch dial.

Behind the magnificently detailed work of art featuring festive scenery—with its airborne horses and kimono-clad onlookers—is yet another masterpiece: the finely crafted Swiss mechanical self-winding movement of Hermès (Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati; 757-8910; hermes.com). The ultra-thin Manufacture movement H1950 is only 2.6mm thick, with a power reserve of 42 hours. All these are enclosed in a 39.5mm white gold case with sapphire crystal, topped off with an alligator strap. This extremely limited series only has 12 pieces, each with a unique painting by Fukushima.