Increasingly watch collectors are looking outside Switzerland for handcrafted timepieces at the pinnacle of the craft. Of course, Switzerland will always hold the crown, but there is another country that holds the core values of harmony, dedication and structure, which lend themselves to a thriving artisanal watch scene.
Over the past few decades the Japanese watch industry has evolved to include a healthy mix of independent brands like Kurono and Minase alongside giants like Seiko, Citizen and Casio. Another small, independent brand that is making waves internationally is Naoya Hida & Co., established in 2018 they have recently announced their third model, the NH Type 3A.
The brand’s main design principle is to take iconic styles from the 1930s-60s and bring them into a modern, contemporary space. Their watches have been described as having a strong Patek Philippe Calatrava flavour and that can definitely be seen in their earlier Type 1 and Type 2 models. However, I find the Type 3A to be very much its own beast.
With a case diameter of 37mm, the stainless steel watch is a solid halfway size between vintage and modern size trends. The steel itself is a variety called SUS904L, which is rarely seen in watchmaking as it is particularly difficult to manipulate. However, Naoya Hida is up to the challenge because they use state of the art microfabrication machines and produce very few timepieces per year, allowing them to focus on perfecting the quality of their work.
It’s the dial that is particularly exceptional. There is a moonphase function at 6 o’clock handcrafted from 18k gold, with the stylised moon produced separately and then applied to the rotating disk. Similarly, the Roman numerals are crafted by hand using lacquer moulds that give a three-dimensional effect. The Type 3A is the first watch from Naoya Hida that adds a complication to its display and the choice of a moonphase is very telling as it is one of the most refined and elegant complications.
Housed beneath the dial and newly designed stepped bezel is the Cal. 3021LU manual winding movement, with has a power reserve of 45-hours. All of Naoya Hida’s timepieces use manual movements as they believe that winding your watch daily is an important part of the watch owning experience, helping to form part of your daily rituals.
The Cal. 3021LU is a slight alteration to the movement used in the Type 1, which is itself based on an original Valijoux calibre, meaning you can be confident in its Swiss reliability. Japan might be up and coming but there are some things Swiss manufacturers still do better.
The NH Type 3A is a very pretty watch and on its Alcantara strap there really isn’t much I’d change about it. Well, I would change the price so that I could actually get hold of one because at ¥2,640,000 (approx. £17,600) that isn’t very likely. Add to that the fact that all Naoya Hida & Co. timepieces are produced in limited quantities and the chances of procuring one get slimmer and slimmer. You’d better act fast if you want one.
Price & Specs:
Model: Naoya Hida & Co. NH Type 3A
Case/Dial: 37mm diameter x 10.7mm height, stainless steel case, German silver dial
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Calibre 3021LU, manual wind, 18 jewels
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 45h
Functions: Hours, minutes, moonphase
Strap: Blue Alcantara leather
Price/availability: ¥2,640,000 (approx. £17,572 at time of publishing)
More details at Naoya Hida & Co.