Watch Winder Case DAN

Watch Winder Case DAN

A watch case featuring the most incredible techniques developed out of Hikone Buddhist altar production.

This cabinet-style winder case took two and a half years from conception to completion. All of the sophistication and technical skill used in producing Hikone Buddhist altars has been employed here.
Beginning with maki-e showing beautiful scenes of the Japanese seasons on the reverse side of the gate, this watch case has been imbued with the highest level of hand craftsmanship in its woodwork, lacquer work, and metalwork.

This watch case was planned and produced using the measurements and patterns requested by the client.*The Watch Winder Case DAN is a special decorative case meant to hold the famous and reliable SWISS Kubik watch winders.

TitleWatch Winder Case DAN
ThemeWatch Winder Case
TechniquesWoodworking, kuden, carving, high-gloss wood grain finishes, dry lacquer, cashew finish, polished maki-e, raden zaiku, gold-leaf, kazarikanagu (hand-carving and etching), matte gilding
MaterialHiba wood, veneer board (wood base, model construction), red pine (carving), lacquer and cashew oil (finish), gold and platinum powders and mother-of-pearl (maki-e, etc.), gold leaf and gold powder (gold leaf application), brass, copper, and gold fixtures (kazarinkanagu)
SizeWidth:675mm; height:1800mm; depth:400mm
ClientDeveloped internally
DesignGreenValley Co., Ltd.
PhotographyKeisuke Ono

Integrated traditional materials and techniques

The wooden structure is produced using mortise and tenon construction, characteristic of Hikone Buddhist altar work, and has been redesigned using measurements specific to these watch winders.
The winder case has been made using kuden techniques developed in building Hikone Buddhist altars. For the finish, a luxurious high-gloss, transparent lacquer finish that brings out the grain of the wood has been applied. To achieve this high-gloss lacquer finish, the applied lacquer is rubbed flat and raw lacquer is repeatedly applied and polished to achieve a mirror-like effect. The final finish is stunning and luxurious.
For the maki-e, an original pattern composed of spring cherry blossoms and autumn leaves has been created using polished maki-e techniques that incorporate real gold and platinum powders, as well as mother-of-pearl.
The kazarikanagu used in the gate has been produced using an original design featuring simplified overlapping circles. It has been finished through a matte gilding technique with copper and brass foil.

  1. Woodworking

    Working with unfinished wood is an important initial process for creating the foundation or frame of a product.
    Woodworking at INOUE is based on the exacting quality found in the traditional arts that have been cultivated by the production of Buddhist altars in the castle town of Hikone since the Edo Period (1603-1868 CE). Craftsmen produced these altars by hand and without nails, demanding uncompromising quality in the careful selection of the best materials for use in mortise and tenon construction. These altars are durable enough to be handed down through many generations. Furthermore, we have connections with woodworking shops in other areas that specialize in mass production, allowing us to select the appropriate methods of woodworking for any project.

  2. Kuden

    The detailed wood construction of the miniature roof that sits inside of a Buddhist altar is called kuden. These “palace roofs” are produced through a miniature construction process that is modeled after the construction of temples and shrines, which are themselves modeled after the buildings of the Pure Land, or the Buddhist paradise. In Hikone, this work is handled by kuden-shi, or craftsmen who specialize in building kuden.
    Sophisticated techniques are required to precisely assemble the components of these structures, such as their characteristic bow-shaped gables or other roof forms, roof tiles, square framing elements, and so on. These skills are not only applicable to Buddhist altars; they can also be used to bring many other sophisticated and delicate designs to life.

  3. Lacquering

    Lacquer is Japan’s exceptionally beautiful and high-quality traditional method of finishing. It is one of the most protective coatings in existence but can be very difficult to handle. Applying lacquer evenly requires the touch of a skillful craftsman from the first coat. The lacquer must be applied in many coats, from the first coat to the final finish, and the painting and polishing processes must be repeated many times over.
    A high-gloss lacquer finish, considered the highest level of lacquer, involves the painted lacquer being polished flat, after which raw lacquer is repeatedly rubbed into the surface and polished to bring out a deep luster that is nearly mirror-like.
    Based on our extensive knowledge of producing Buddhist altars, INOUE is able to offer the appropriate lacquering methods and craftsmen capable of implementing them, from a black, high-gloss lacquer finishes to a broad range of other coatings and lacquer colors.

  4. Maki-e

    Maki-e is an artistic lacquer technique that involves drawing pictures or patterns using lacquer and then sprinkling them with gold dust or other fine powders. Maki-e originates in Japan and is one of the unique traditional techniques developed here. Maki-e includes many subsidiary techniques, such as hiramakie, takamakie, and togidashimakie. Furthermore, maki-e includes a wide variety of different end products, such as the expression of depth through different types or sizes of gold powder and the application of a variety of processing techniques.
    At INOUE, we have built a network of maki-e craftsmen with a wide range of skills, allowing us to provide the skills needed for any project, from projects demanding the utmost quality to those needing to fit into a tight budget.

  5. Raden zaiku

    Raden zaiku refers to another decorative technique that involves shaving off thin sheets of mother-of-pearl, primarily from limpet shells, and affixing them to an object using lacquer. Raden zaiku is often performed at the same time as maki-e, after which yet more gold powder is applied on top of the affixed sheet of mother-of-pearl. Hairlines are also often engraved upon the decoration to make it even more beautiful.
    A variation on this technique is called rankaku zaiku and uses the shells of quail or even chicken eggs in place of mother-of-pearl. Recently, some practitioners have begun to use artificial Kyoto opal as well.

  6. Gold plating (Hakuoshi, hakuhari, or hakuoki)

    Hakuoshi is a decorative technique for covering items with gold or silver leaf or platinum foil.
    While the material is called “gold leaf,” it includes a variety of types. These range from gold with a high degree of purity to silver admixtures that allow for an adjustment of the foil’s color. Techniques for applying the gold leaf include methods that bring out the luster of the foil as well as methods that create an elegant or refined appearance.
    At INOUE, veteran craftsmen employ a wide variety of methods for gold leaf application. We have also developed techniques for the application of gold leaf to modern materials, such as acrylic resin and glass.

  7. Decorative fixtures (kazarikanagu)

    While various types of metal fixtures are used in the arts, metalwork that is highly decorative in nature is called kazarikanagu. Metals such as brass or copper are used to fit the objectives and location of the fixture and various techniques are employed to shape the fixture, such as zibori to give the fixture a three-dimensional feel, kebori to engrave the fixture with fine lines and details, and sukashibori to create openings and provide a sense of depth. Other fixtures can also be produced through more cost-effective methods like metal pressing, electric casting, and etching.
    We also provide the optimal techniques and decorative methods for adding finishes to kazarikanagu, such as gold plating, nickel plating or some other technique or combination thereof.

  8. Carving

    Carving involves using a chisel or other implement to create a three-dimensional from out of stone, wood, or another material. Japan has a rich culture of working with wood as part of its traditional arts, so great attention has been paid to the development of wood carving.
    At INOUE, we can respond to any wood carving request, as we are connected to various wood carving masters of different specialties. These specialties range from plants and animals that are typically depicted along the transom of a Buddhist altar, such as the flowers and birds, to statues of the Buddha himself.

  9. Bringing out the wood grain (mokumedashinuri)

    Mokumedashinuri is an advanced lacquering technique used to accentuate and enliven the wood grain of zelkova or other woods using a dark-brown, semi-transparent lacquer. By applying this clear lacquer, the natural grain of these woods acquires an elegance and an expression of depth.

  10. Kumiko

    Kumiko is a stunningly delicate and beautiful method of wood construction that involves assembling wood without the use of nails. It is used for opening and closing components in Japanese construction, such as sliding doors, windows, and so on. Recently, it has come to be used in hotels and other retail locations that wish to create a modern, Japanese-inspired feeling. This has resulted in the development of many novel kumiko patterns. Finishes can be applied to kumiko and it can also be coated in gold leaf.

  11. Gilding

    Gilding is a surface processing technique that involves coating a target object, either metal or a non-metal such as plastic, with another metal. In the case of Buddhist altars, brass and copper surfaces are often gilded with gold or silver.

  12. Glass

    Glass is a relatively new material in the traditional arts world. It requires careful handling when integrated into objects to prevent it from shattering. We also use high-quality production methods so that in the unlikely event that glass does break, it can be repaired relatively easily.
    Lacquer that can be painted on top of glass has also recently been developed.