He Just Wants to Make Watches

Last name Norifumi Seki

Age 23

Hometown Tokyo

Claim fame Mr. Seki won the 2020 FP Journe Young Talents Competition, an annual competition in which industry leaders, including François-Paul Journe and Philippe Dufour, judge the work of the next generation of watchmakers. He was the first honored in Asia in the five-year history of the event.

The watch The highlight of Mr. Seki’s 4.7-centimeter spherical moon and drum pocket watch is a 20-millimeter orb that rotates to match the phases of the moon: two-thirds of the sphere is coated with yellow gold, while the last third is titanium blued. “When you look at the moon in nature, you can tell the time, and I wanted to convey it in a mechanical way,” Mr. Seki said in a recent interview in Tokyo. It took him 10 months to complete the timepiece, using equipment from the Hiko Mizuno College of Jewelry, where he was in his final year of a watchmaking course, and from the watchmaking workshop in Eguchi, a store where he had a part-time job.

How it all began In 2016, Mr. Seki saw a TV documentary starring Masahiro Kikuno, an independent watchmaker who graduated from Mizuno in 2005. “So I got really interested in the watch industry,” he says. “I did some research on him, on watches, and I knew I wanted to enroll in this watchmaking school. In a sort of symmetry, Mr. Kikuno was Mr. Seki’s teacher during his senior year at Mizuno. “By studying watches, I learned that it was a traditional world, and I came to love it more,” Mr. Seki said, drawing parallels with the history of kashima shin-ryu, a Japanese martial art that he has been practicing since he was 12.

The news A congratulatory email that arrived in August informed Mr. Seki that he had won the competition. “I was honored,” he said. “I think the competition valued my future and my talent, rather than the results of my watch, the finished product.” (He said he was never really happy with the watch: “I’m not really happy with the final results on the calendar,” which is not always correct.) In the past, the winners have been traveled to Geneva to present their timepieces at a press conference and receive 20,000 Swiss francs ($ 22,285) to help finance watchmaking projects or purchase equipment. But, due to the pandemic, Mr. Seki was honored in October at the FP Journe boutique in Tokyo, a boutique designed by Tadao Ando in the Aoyama district.

Next thing “I have many ideas for watches that I would like to create in the future,” said Mr. Seki. “I would like to become an independent watchmaker.” After graduating last spring, he started working full time at Eguchi, a concept store in Kichijoji, west of Tokyo, that sells vintage watches and clothing. He now repairs watches during his eight-hour workday, and although he hopes to study in Switzerland, he knows his future is in Japan. “Japan is quite unique,” ​​he said, “in the sense that brands make everything from scratch, from start to finish.”

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