As watch writers, we’re used to writing about precision, accuracy, and details. We’re talking about exact measurements down to the very last screw and pinion; we’re talking polishing so fine that it’s indiscernible to the naked eye. When it comes to watchmaking, there really is no margin for error.
But lately, we’ve found ourselves drawn to certain imperfect details and unpredictability in our watches. Bronze as a case material has been very much the trend of late, its ability to develop a unique patina that differs from person to person is like a horological experiment — one that speaks directly to UNDONE, a bespoke label that is all about individuality in watchmaking.
Taking the notion of Wabi-Sabi, a Japanese ideology on finding beauty in impermanence and imperfection, UNDONE has found a perfect partner in Simple Union, a renowned antique Katazome fabric crafthouse, the same company who redrafted a pair of Nike Air Jordan 1 Retro Hi OG in its vintage Japanese indigo fabrics.
The UNDONE x Simple Union collaboration: 無 2 (Romanisation: MŪ2), is a watch in bronze to symbolise the nature of human life — no two bronze pieces will age in the same way, and neither will two lives be lived the same way. Paired with the Simple Union straps that are made from Meiji-era Japanese Katazome fabric that is more than 150 years old, the watch also features UNDONE’s brand new Kyoto Dial, an oriental-inspired version of its classic California Dial, marrying the functional design with Buddhist sensibilities.
Instead of the iconic top-half Roman numeral layout of the California Dial, the hour markers are replaced with four delicate Kanji characters that look as though they’re embroidered onto the dial: 「無, 常, 苦, 空」.
In Japanese, “Kata” means a stencil or pattern, and “zome” means “to dye.” Katazome is a traditional dyeing period from the Edo Period, which began in 1603. The indigo plant grew abundantly in most Japanese islands and is used widely for dyeing. Intricate patterns of cranes, peonies and chrysanthemum are often handout from Japanese stencilling paper called Shibugami. A rice paste is first applied on the fabric using the stencilling paper, before the fabric is dipped into indigo dye to achieve the final design. Thus, like the bronze cases, no two straps are the same!
無 2(MŪ2)is housed in a bronze case with a stainless steel case back. Measuring 40mm, the bezel and insert on the watch are also in bronze. Powering the watch is the calibre SII NH35a, a self-winding, hackable, workhorse movement with a three-hand format. Limited to 300 pieces, the watch is now available for pre-orders here: www.undone.com/simpleunion-bronze.
Self-winding calibre Seiko Instruments Inc. NH35A, hours, minutes, seconds
40mm, bronze with a 316L stainless steel caseback, water resistant to 100m
Handmade Katazome straps by Simple Union
Limited to 300 pieces