Japanese Arita-yaki ware, also known as Imari porcelain, can be traced back to the year 1616 when an immigrant Korean potter discovered Kaolinite (the main component of porcelain) and set up kilns in Kyushu, which began producing blue and white porcelain. Today, Arita-yaki is is characterized by its intricate cobalt blue and red glazes, which contrast nicely with the translucent whiteness of the clay. The timelessness of Arita-yaki, now celebrating its 400th birthday, is being honored in a unique and entirely appropriate way: through beautiful Swiss timepieces.
The Swiss-born Paul Gerber is often referred to as one of the world’s greatest living watchmakers. And he has a strong following in Japan, where he exports many of his pieces through a company called Ishioka Shokai Ltd. For the 400th birthday of Arita-yaki, the Koransha company, with an almost equally long history, has teamed up with Gerber to create limited edition watches that use exquisite Arita-yaki porcelain as a face. The porcelain faces – fired at an astounding 1/100th of a millimeter – are decorated in traditional Arita-yaki glazes: cobalt blues and reds that form foliage and flowers.
The watches of course don’t come cheap. Earlier this year they were on sale at Isetan Department Store in Tokyo for 4.8 million yen, or roughly $46,000 – the price of a nice sport sedan.