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The Way of the Samurai and the Urushi SPB085

The Way of the Samurai and the Urushi SPB085

Authored By DePaula Jewelers

The Lacquer so Strong, It Protected the Samurai

Japanese lacquer is an expression of craftsmanship that can be traced back thousands of years to the Jomon period. One of the most popular forms is Urushi, which is celebrated for its great strength and natural beauty. Many are familiar with elegantly lacquered black and red tableware, but Urushi is so strong it was used during the Sengoku era to coat the armor worn by samurai – and can even serve as a binding agent. Made from the sap of the Japanese lacquer tree (Toxicodendron vernicifluum), Urushi dries not by evaporation, but by absorbing moisture from the air. It is an extremely complicated process involving many steps, all of which must be completed by hand. But the effort is rewarded with a black so deep and pure, it seems endless. It is this otherworldly black beauty that lacquer artist Isshu Tamura brings to the face of The Seiko Presage SPB085.

Urushi Lacquer

His grandfather was a Maki-e craftsman (a Japanese lacquer technique that uses metal powders, such as gold and silver) while his father mastered Urushi. Now, Isshu Tamura himself is one of Japan’s renowned Urushi lacquer artists. Because it is so difficult and time consuming, using Urushi on watch faces is rare. The process involves several undercoats, an intermediate coat, a top coat and finally a finishing coat to eliminate any minute scratches or pinholes. Before each application, Suruga charcoal is used to roughen the surface, which ensures proper adherence. For Tamura-san, who is excited by challenging projects, the results are worth the effort. “I think the combination of traditional Japanese Urushi lacquer and wristwatches has a great synchronicity,” he says. “It reflects the made in Japan spirit.”

How a Seiko Presage Urushi Dial is Masterfully Created.

    1. Metal Polishing

    2. Undercoat, Polishing

    3. Intermediate Coat,

    4. Top Coat,

    5. Finished Polishing,
      Suri Urushi

    6. 6. Buffing

The Moon at Dawn

A new creation in the Presage collection of fine mechanical watches once again takes its inspiration from Japan’s everlasting fascination with the moon. Following on from the success of the recent release with a deep blue enamel dial that evoked the night sky, this new limited edition uses one of the most elaborate lacquer techniques of all, Byakudan-nuri, as well as traditional Urushi, to portray the rich tones of the sky and moon just before dawn. Byakudan-nuri is a technique that has been used for centuries to decorate Urushi lacquer and, because of the complexity of the craftsmanship involved, was reserved exclusively for use in places and on objects of high status, including temples, shrines and on the armor of Shogun warlords.

We Currently have the SPB085 in stock.



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