For those of you visiting Mokume Gane Fairs, we would like to let you know that, in addition to jewelry, you might be interested in purchasing our wristwatches. We recently put on the market a watch with a dial made of mokume gane. Mokumeganeya collaborated with the Seiko Watch orporation to produce a limited edition model as the “45th Brand Launch Anniversary Commemorative Model” of Seiko’s highest-end Credor brand.
There is a special “Mokume Gane Direct” page on the Credor website, with the following text:
“ Credor is celebrating its 45th anniversary.
To mark this event, we have produced a decorative dial made using mokume gane, a metal-working technique dating back to the Edo period.
The multicolored patterns that are produced using this technique, which originated and evolved in Japan, convey both beauty and eternity.”
The craftsmanship that has been cultivated in over a hundred years of Seiko’s history is based on a brand concept in which existing traditional watch-making techniques are treasured whilst simultaneously offering new styles. The aim is to produce designs that distill the essence of the Japanese sense of beauty while holding world-wide appeal. Already in the past, the company has marketed models that made use of traditional lacquer techniques with mother-of-pearl and gold lacquer on black japanned bases.
The design concept of the mokume gane dial is known as “Kazemoku,” depicting the profoundly Japanese landscape of ears of rice fluttering in the wind. The original design is a sublimation in design of a rich, golden-hued landscape.
In the past, during the Edo period, the great tsuba craftsman Takahashi Okitsugu produced mokume gane designs for tsuba that depicted “red maple leaves swirling in the Tatsuta River” and “cherry blossoms floating in the Yoshino River.” The flowing rivers represented the passing of time. In this particular case, the unseen “wind” is depicted in the tiny world of the watch dial which itself visualizes time.
Here are some more details on the production of this dial, which was a first for Mokumeganeya.
The Mokume Gane used in the dial is made of 18 carat white, yellow and pink gold, plus silver.
The various colored plates were stacked keeping in mind the desired pattern in the final product once the metal has been flattened. These stacked plates are bigger than the ones used to manufacture rings, and there are more of them, so particular care needed to be given to the fusion.
The thickness of each plate is between 0.15mm and 0.2mm. They were stacked and then underwent diffusion bonding in an electric furnace.
Each billet was shaved down by hand using a Leutor tool. As the depth of the shaving changes, the color that comes to the surface changes, so the design is achieved by alternating shaving, heating and flattening.
The plate that finally becomes the dial is 0.8mm thick. In order to achieve the perfect design with that particular thickness, great care had to be taken in the repetition of shaving and flattening.
The plate was cut to the round shape and size of the dial, and it was then polished so as to make the pattern stand out. It was then complete.
Following this, the watch was assembled by Seiko Watch Corporation. The ultra-thin hand-winding “Gulliver 6890” movement was fitted into the 18 carat pink gold case. The total thickness being only 1.98mm, the highly-skilled watchmakers could only assemble one or two units per day. The final product is a superb masterpiece which is the handmade fruit of the labor of highly-skilled craftsmen.
This collaborative product presents a different level of difficulty in comparison to the wedding rings produced by Mokumeganeya. We discussed this with the craftsmen concerned.
In order to achieve the desired design image once the metal had been flattened, it was necessary to repeat the process of fusing and shaving many times while changing the thickness of the stack of sheets 0.05mm at a time. As the surface was limited to the size of the dial, the thickness was set at 0.8mm and if the stack was shaved down too much, the traces of the shaving would be visible when the desired thickness was achieved. But overly shallow shaving would yield a monotone effect. The thickness of the silver or gold, depending on their position in the stack, would alter the design effect. It’s almost impossible to count how many tests were done before achieving the final product.
Since this is handmade, the exact same design cannot be achieved twice, and the uniqueness of each design is the charm of Mokume Gane, but on this occasion, it was necessary to achieve a uniform design is order to preserve the “Kazemoku” pattern. Since the pattern would change if there was even a slight over-shaving of the surface, special effort was made to keep the angle of the blade constant.
The surface underwent a frosting process, but with the particularity of Mokume Gane coming from the use of different metals, irregularities can easily appear when the surface is processed. Also, as the surface is much bigger than in rings, it was a challenge to achieve a uniform impression.
Also, normally, there is no surface processing, but as the product this time was the dial of a watch, part of a precision instrument, it was necessary to ensure that it was perfectly flat. The thickness of the finished product was 0.8mm. It required a great deal of effort in terms of roller work and press processing to achieve a completely flat surface on extra-thin sheets made of metals of different hardness.
This product marketing collaboration came about after someone at the Seiko Watch Corporation saw an interview with Mokumeganeya President Takahashi in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper. That article was written because a Nihon Keizai Shimbun journalist had purchased wedding rings from Mokumeganeya. The journalist was very interested in the pursuit of Mokume Gane by Takahashi, and interviewed him.
The efforts to replicate the Mokume Gane products from the Edo period, and to develop this traditional technique further into something that is relevant to the modern world have yielded another new product.
The “Mokume Gane Dial” has been available at Credor Salons and Credor Shops in Japan since August 9th, 2019. As numbers are very limited (35 watches in all), please contact the store ahead of time.
More detailed informational is available on the Seiko Watch Corporation website at