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True value manifests over time

True value manifests over time

Authored By William DePaula

Isshu Tamura, Urushi Artist

Raised in his grandfather’s and father’s lacquer workshop, Isshu Tamura knew from an early age he wanted to follow in their footsteps, and was drawn to Kanazawa where he apprenticed himself to a maki-e master.

Citing lacquer’s venerable history as well as its durability – urushi relics dating back to as early as 9,000 years ago have been excavated in Japan – Mr. Tamura views his craft with a perspective that spans beyond that of a single lifetime.

“I do not consider a piece complete when I have finished crafting it,” he explains, “Rather, that marks the beginning – a work of true value will only be polished further by the passing of the years.”

In this sense – despite being an ancient tradition – urushi lacquerware is perhaps ideally suited to meet the needs of the modern age. “To me, urushi is a means by which we can pass down that which is truly important to us to posterity,” Mr. Tamura continues. “It is important that this tradition is not cut off, but rather serves to connect past, present, and future generations.”

Though it is no small task to fashion a dial to very precise, micrometer-level specifications through traditional methods, the master embraces the challenge. “I start not by considering what is accepted as possible, but what we want to achieve – and how to achieve that.”

Mr. Tamura and Seiko have truly created a work of art that honors the past, fits the unique needs of the present, and is destined to be valued long into the future.

With each piece of urushi art requiring its own distinct precision hand motions and operations, Mr. Tamura crafts his own brushes and instruments from materials such as multiple varieties of bamboo harvested in the mountains to ensure he always has the ideal tool for the task.

Mr. Tamura explains that slight imperfections or blemishes that can arise from tension or unease during the crafting process often do not manifest themselves until the end of the process – requiring the master to start anew.

Pursuing further evolution

The new Presage Urushi Dial limited edition makes an immediate impression with a face of a profoundly deep green hue evoking the verdant moss that adorns Kanazawa’s landscape in the summer. This color variation – which requires yet further precision to achieve – is truly the embodiment of the master’s ingenuity, passion, and artisanship.


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