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Battle Ready

Romano Alberti captures the essence of Samurai

Embodied within the 43mm confines of Romano Alberti’s O-Yoroi timepiece (SGD15,800/RM48,300) are a few centuries of feudal Japan history. The Italian brand’s two co-founders share a profound appreciation for Japanese culture and art; their partnership has resulted in a watch inspired by the ancient samurai.

To fully appreciate the design of this timepiece requires some familiarity with the samurai’s kabuto, or helmet. Traditionally, the kabuto is of a domed shape formed by narrow strips of metal riveted together. At the top of the dome, where the tips of the strips meet, is a tehen, or a small opening, believed to be placed so as to accommodate the warrior’s hair bun. The tehen is often decorated with metal rings worked into a concentric pattern known as the tenhen kanamono. On the front of the kabuto is an elaborate crest; on this watch it is one that resembles a three-pronged fork cradled by a crescent.

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The crescent appears, in rather hefty proportions, on the hands, which are pivoted on a circle inspired by the tehen kanamono. At six o’clock, a stylised chrysanthemum flower, an emblem of luck to the Japanese, rotates to indicate the seconds. An elongated date window sits at three o’clock, modeled after the shape of the hand guard on the katana, a traditional Japanese sword. This aperture is imbued with philosophy. Its elongated shape means that the numbers indicating yesterday’s and today’s dates are half visible, while the present day’s date is in full view. It serves as a reminder for the owner to live in the present and not dwell on the past or worry about the future. This philosophy was held by the samurais, whose lives were unpredictable as they never knew when they would die in battle. All these features are presented on a dial decorated with a design of radial lines reminiscent of the narrow metal strips on the kabuto when viewed from the top.

The watch comes with a strap of calf leather layered over stingray – a nod to the grip of the katana, which traditionally has the same construction. The lugs and buckle are in the three-pronged shape of the kabuto’s crest. Only 150 pieces of this timepiece are available worldwide.

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Published March 12, 2016
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