The Shozo Izushi Selection No. 4 – A Micro-locomotive Pendant Watch – Listen to the ticking of the miniscule locomotive inside
|The top of the pendant, crowned with a large pink tourmaline and a small emerald, is reminiscent of a Corinthian column. Twist it to give the watch life. K18YG/K18WG Tourmaline, emerald and diamond watch Model: 2-50-04690-A001 2,415,000yen incl. tax
Wind-up dolls (karakuri ningyo) have a long history. Some credit Izumo Takeda as the patriarch of wind-up dolls. Takeda traveled to Kyoto in 1658 and presented the Imperial Palace with a wind-up doll, and was bestowed the name Yakumo Takeda.
We must not forget inventor Hisashige Tanaka, who made wind-up dolls many years later. Born in Kurume, Kyushu, on 18th September 1799, Tanaka was also known by the name Karakuri (lit: gizmo, automaton) Giemon.
Giemon made, among other items, a wind-up doll that serves sake. The beautiful doll holds a tray carrying a sake cup. When the cup is filled with sake, the doll starts walking towards the customer and stops in front of them. Once the customer has drunk the sake and replaced the cup to the same spot, the doll returns.
Of all his creations, his myriad year clock is a masterpiece. The ‘myriad year’ in the name of this wadokei (Japanese clock) is best understood as ‘complex clock.’ Giemon began working on the clock in 1850 and finished it the following year, at the age of 53.
“The overall conceptual design and assembly is, of course, the work of a clockmaker. The groundwork of creating the crude machine parts is contracted to a founder, a cabinetmaker, a painter, a lacquerer and other subcontractors. The clockmaker uses a file and other tools to give these parts an elaborate finish and then assemble them. The founder makes the bells. The cabinetmaker makes the base and the cover. Other craftsmen make the side sculptures and inlays, respectively. Of all these, Omi took much pain with the springs and cogs – the heart of the clock. He diligently filed the cogs himself by the dim light of a mujinto lamp. But he was not completely satisfied with the springs.” (Biography of Hisashige Tanaka by Toyota Mori, published by the Hisashige Tanaka Biography Publication Society)
The Omi in the text refers to Tanaka, who was bestowed the name Omi Daisho in 1849 by the Saga Imperial Palace and was often known thereafter by that name. This name was the greatest honor to be bestowed on a karakuri craftsman. The mujinto oil lamp, which emitted a steady light by replenishing the oil itself, was also invented by Tanaka and was widely used.
The completed myriad year clock was a mantelpiece clock, 83 cm high and 65 cm wide at the base. Each dial had a different function; this hexahedral clock was indeed a myriad year clock. The most distinctive feature of this complicated clock was the 16-jewelled inlaid Swiss pocket watch. The movement of this pocket watch and the overall mechanism of the clock were interlocked.
As one might expect, this myriad year clock was quite topical. The lord of Matsue, Dewanokami Matsudaira, wanted to buy it but changed his mind after learning it cost 1,000 ryo, an astronomical price at the time. No one since has bought the myriad year clock because it is difficult to place a price tag on it.
I was reminded of Tomoaki Kiyota while researching Hisashige Tanaka and the myriad year clock. Kiyota is a jeweler, but he has much in common with Tanaka. Kiyoto always wanted to create the perfect jewelry watch. Despite the millions of jewelry watches in existence, Kiyota dreamt of a gem that embodied its own perfect beauty. To achieve this, he wanted a unique movement.
Kiyota envisioned the movement for this watch to be part of the jewelry as well as the mechanism. Kiyota’s search for this movement, which would become part of a piece of art, lasted 10 years. Kiyota eventually met Hisa Hara. As an independent watchmaker, Hara is unique in modern Japan. He created an unprecedented baguette-shaped movement. Most standard movements are round but are unsuitable for the avant-garde design of jewelry watches. The baguette movement resembles a micro-locomotive, and the rotary motion is like ripples radiating out over the surface of a pool of water.
Kiyota obtained this miniscule locomotive and decided to make the watch see-through, using a design that allows the locomotive to be seen from any angle. To achieve this, he needed a transparent, cylindrical case. When Kiyota finally found one, a spark of inspiration hit him, and he rapidly completed the design. The resulting pendant watch with an encased micro-locomotive is without equal either in Japan or the world.
The perfect beauty of this pendant watch contains a secret. The watch is solid and has total bilateral symmetry, without any breaks, because the watch has no obvious winding knob. The ruby – the roof of the transparent case – is the winding knob. The watch can be wound by touching this beautiful ruby, which is more like a tiara than a roof.
|This woven piece of jewelry inspired by Venetian lace is in fact exquisite and supple, giving a comfortable fit. (L) K18WG diamond ring
1,386,000 yen incl. tax
(R) K18WG diamond pendant broach
1,155,000 yen incl. tax
|The brace on this elaborate brooch with a Grecian-cross motif does not show on this unique Cisey setting. K18/K18WG Diamond pendant brooch
1,617,000 yen incl. tax
|The combination of tanzanite and gold create a beautiful contrast on this double ring. The setting itself, which holds the large emerald, looks like sand ripples on the edge of a desert. K18/Pt Tanzanite diamond ring
17,640,000 yen incl. tax
|This shield-shaped ring also resembles a dolmen built by the Ancient Celts. The symmetry between the left and the right, and the top and the bottom, is as beautiful as a baroque music performance. (L) K18/K18WG diamond ring
2,887,500 yen incl. tax
(R) K18/K18WG diamond pendant
630,000 yen incl. tax
●Enquiries Studio Kiyota
Born 1944. Joined the fashion industry in 1964. Izuishi has forged a career as a fashion designer, consultant, and critic. Author of numerous books including Otoko wa Naze Nekutai wo Musubu no ka (“Why do Men Wear Neckties?”) (Shinchosha), and Bruu Jiinzu no Bunkashi (“Blue Jeans: a Cultural History”) (NTT Shuppan). His recent work Suutsu no Hyakka Jiten (“An Encyclopedia of Suits”) (Banraisha) lecturing males on how to wear a suit properly has attracted favorable reviews.