In 2019, Hong Kong watch brand UNDONE first explored the Japanese ideology of impermanence and imperfection (Wabi-Sabi) in collaboration with renowned antique Katazome fabric craft house Simple Union. Last year, the brand launched its second collaboration with Simple Union: 無2(MŪ2), a 300-piece limited edition.
Launched in April 2021, UNDONE x Simple Union無3 (MŪ3) represents a deeper introspection of Wabi Sabi’s aesthetic philosophy, inspired by an artisanal dimension of different textures and materials. The Buddhist virtues of「無」,「常」,「苦」,「空」find renewed cadence in two reincarnations of the Kyoto Dial- rooted in Japanese ancestral craftsmanship & innovative modern watchmaking.
The third installment born from this collaboration includes two exceptional timepieces: UNDONE x Simple Union: Sometsuke and UNDONE Urushi.
These timepieces highlight traditional Japanese art crafts like Sometsuke and Urushi.
UNDONE x Simple Union: Sometsuke
A first for UNDONE, the Limited Edition UNDONE x Simple Union: Sometsuke features a white porcelain-looking dial which is achieved by enamel paint polished into a glossy finish, the finishing touches on the dial added by the blue minute track and numerals. The hour marker at “12” is replaced with the Simple Union logo as a mark of this valuable collaboration.
With this timepiece, UNDONE looks to further intensify the idea of 金継ぎ (Kintsugi), the art of mending broken porcelain using gold.
Look between the Kintsugi crack, and one will see a gold skeleton movement, a rare feature and often only seen in luxury watches. This reflects the beauty of mending broken porcelain with gold, as seen in many Japanese potteries, reinforcing the idea that it is the scars of trial and hardship that render life even more precious.
The indigo watch straps are made from 150+ year old Katazome fabric. “Kata” (型) means “stencil” or “pattern,” and “zome” (染め) means “to dye.” Katazome is a traditional dyeing method that began in 1603. Intricate designs of cranes, peonies, and chrysanthemums are hand-cut from Japanese stenciling paper; a dye-resistant rice paste is applied onto the fabric, which serves as the “stenciled out” designs when the fabric is dyed in indigo.
The pieces of Katazome fabric feature are rare examples of authentic antique Katazome work that has survived to this day–with no two similar pieces. The Katazome straps feature UNDONE’s signature quick-release straps.
The UNDONE x Simple Union: Sometsuke is limited to 300 of UNDONE’s first ever gold colored skeleton movement and handmade Katazome straps by Simple Union. Each timepiece features serial number on the caseback.
Visible through the transparent case back, the gold-colored Japanese TMI NH71 skeletonized automatic caliber offers a 41-hour power reserve. It has an accuracy range within -20~+40 seconds per day under normal conditions.
UNDONE x Simple Union: Urushi
Urushi is the traditional art of Japanese lacquerware. It also comes with an incredible history: Japanese monks made tea using parts from the Urushi tree, which was as toxic as poison ivy. The monks performed this as a ritual to complete their impending mummification process, which was rumored to help preserve the body and blur the boundary of life and death.
UNDONE further explores the philosophy of Urushi with the art of Maki-e. The black enamel painted dial, simulating the look of black lacquerware is inspired by the art of Urushi, a reflection of the dark philosophy of preservation and the secret to immortality.
It is complemented by Maki-e, an extremely popular centuries-old Japanese lacquer decoration technique, which involves the sprinkling of precious metals such as gold or silver onto the surface of lacquerware (e.g., the tableware in Japanese tea ceremony), and in this case, is the dial.
These timepieces are equipped with the NH35A automatic movements supplied by SEIKO Manufacturing (H.K.) Limited. This movement offers a 42-hour power reserve and tested to +/- 15 seconds p/day accuracy.
Origins of UNDONE’s “Kyoto Dial”
The Classic California Dial has undergone an oriental reinterpretation, the iconic top-half Roman numeral layout of the California Dial’s wartime necessitated design is replaced with four delicate grains of Kanji (「無」,「常」,「苦」,「空」), teaching the three marks of existence (三印法): impermanence (無常), suffering (苦) and absence of self-nature (空).
The 316L stainless steel Tartaruga case is 12.8mm thick with a double domed sapphire crystal and a display caseback. With a case width of 37mm and 43.3mm lug-to-lug, it offers the versatility to suit both men’s and women’s wrists. The hour and minute hands in both watches are lumed and offer strong contrast and legibility. Water resistance is guaranteed at 5ATM/50 meters with the help of a screw-down crown at three. The strap is immediately comfortable and is fitted with quick-release spring bars that conform to the trendy swappable design.
UNDONE x Simple Union: Sometsuke: The Kintsugi crack on the white enamel-painted (reinterpreted Classic California) dial reveals a gold-colored Japanese TMI NH71 skeletonized automatic caliber.
UNDONE Urushi: A reinterpretation of the California dial design is complemented with Maki-e-inspired decoration on a black enamel-painted dial. Inside the incredible design is a Japanese TMI.
With the UNDONE x Simple Union, one will be receiving the watch in an upscale packaging to complement this collaboration, creating the complete unboxing experience. The rectangular box is accompanied by a sleek black sleeve. The sleeve is given its finishing touch with a ceramic motif, to further showcase the intricate art of Sometsuke.
Limited to 300 pieces, the UNDONE x Simple Union: “Sometsuke” has a retail price of 488 USD. The UNDONE “Urushi” watch costs 445 USD.