(the sum of it's parts)In the interest of full disclosure, I had to rely on Google Translate for this one, so I am not entirely certain of the linguistic nuance. I will say that it was remarkable that after 25 years, I was still able to communicate at a fairly basic level, with enough semi-esoteric phrases thrown in to give the (very false) impression that I was even semi-competent in Japanese. Buy a train ticket, ask for directions, order in a restaurant? Absolutely no problem! Just don't ask me to direct a light opera ; )
|courtesy of Minase|
This might not be the answer that you are expecting. It's not to be complex for the sake of complexity. The real reason is longevity. And just what does that mean?
Well, let's answer that question with another -
What would you do if you bent/damaged the lug horn of your watch? In most cases, the watch brand would offer to sell you an entirely new case, or simply shrug and give you the "deal with it" face. In other words, in most situations where you damage a small part of the case or bracelet your only option is to spend a shit-ton of money to completely replace the item, or to shove the damaged watch in a desk drawer where it will slowly gather dust with the other forgotten items of your life. But Minase felt that a watch shouldn't be a potentially disposable item. It should be something for a lifetime, and the one way to ensure that was to create a watch that could be reconstructed, piece by piece.
|Courtesy of Minase|
And in it's semi-disassembled state (above).The main point I wish to underscore is not"hard-core", let's examine every little inch of the movement and compare the intricacies of the mechanism. As reported earlier, Minase does not make their own movements. But what is interesting here is the amount of depth and detail that goes into crafting the case, the bracelet, and how it all fits together.
But for those of you movement obsessed, let me assure you that the movement is contained under the dial and hands in the "case within a case" as pictured below -
Remember when I spoke about the people of Minase? Well the young man you are about to see is a perfect example of what makes Minase special. Try to imagine, you are a young watch maker, you've been at the company for awhile, and are certainly good at your job. You go to work on Monday and get asked to disassemble, then reassemble a watch. Okay, no big deal, you do that every day.
Oh - one more thing - we want to let two foreigners into your workspace to watch, photograph, video and ask questions.
Apparently the answer was-
はい hai (yes)
Think you get that warm and fuzzy reception when you visit the "big dogs" in Switzerland or Germany? Think again. But I also want to clear up any potential misunderstanding. I have absolutely NO idea what the atmosphere is like at Seiko, Citizen, etc. So I do not want to convey the notion that this is a Japan vs. Europe thing. I do not travel in the circles of writers & (more specifically) influencers who have visited the big watch dogs of Japan. What I have heard is that they tend to have press junkets, where there is time to rehearse, plan and execute the same presentation that was given to the last group of journalists that came through. And fair enough, when you're that big, and you have that many visitors, it's sensible to work from a script. But the point I am making here is that I requested several different examples that bordered on full-blown presentations, pretty much on the spot, on the day of the tour. and they ALL were accommodated with no questions asked. No matter how complex or time consuming, the folks at Minase wanted to show what they could do. Not because the boss told them to, but because of the pride that they clearly take in their work.
The Divido is in some ways a very complex puzzle, and while that adds a certain cool cachet, that is not really the point. The point was to have a watch that could last a lifetime, no matter what life dishes out to it.
So just how do you adjust the bracelet?
I have borrowed a photo from the Minase website to give you a look at the underside of the bracelet.
|Courtesy of Minase|
Yes, that is Locktite (or something like it). They don't use a lot, but just enough to be certain that things are held together safe and secure.
Once the bracelet was reassembled, the next step was to put the case together.
And finally attach the bracelet.
And there you have it!
So some reflections -
The Minase factory is not a shiny, space age, hermetically sealed facility. It is an open, lived-in work space where real people make real things with their hands. Does Minase have the same public recognition as say Grand Seiko? No, or at least not yet. But what they do have, for lack of a better way to put it, is "Minas sais quoi". My own little linguistic creation borrowing a wee bit from the French - je ne sais quoi. For those of you who did not benefit from a Gallic linguistic upbringing, it translates to something that is appealing, but you can't adequately describe or articulate what that something is. It is as much a feeling as a quality. And having spent some time at Minase and in Yuzawa, I can honestly say that while I can't completely articulate or describe it, I can honestly say that I get it.
Interesting to relate, I popped into the duty free store to examine the Seikos (Japan market only, not available in the US) and Grand Seikos. And while they were perfectly nice, they did not give me the same feeling that the Minase watches did. Suffice it to say, the band of watchmaking brothers and sisters from Yuzawa made a real impression on me.
And although part of the story ends here, I encourage you to stay tuned for the next few days. The folks at Minase were so confident of their watches, they asked me to do a review. And before you ask, NO. They did not go to the vault for a brand new, unworn specimen. And they did not recall a watch from a retailer. They felt that as I had seen the disassembly and reassembly of a Minase Divido, I should review the one I had observed in its deconstructed form.
So seven days with the Minase Divido begins now.