Koma Kurabe: The Slim d’Hermès With Authentic Japanese Porcelain Enamel Dial
La Montre Hermès announced its brand-new core collection called Slim d’Hermès at Baselworld 2015, which was an instant hit with critics and collectors alike.
At the very same time, this creative company co-announced a limited edition of 12 pieces whose dials are decorated using a special artistic technique found in Japan.
The limited Hermès edition called Koma Kurabe honors Kamo Kurabe Uma, a famous Japanese horse race. A talented Japanese artisan graces the elegant new timepieces with porcelain dials that reproduce scenes of the horse race that still takes place once a year in the spring when the famous cherry blossoms are in full bloom.
This occurs in and around the temple of Kamigamo, which was built in 678 AD in Kyoto as the video below shows.
The porcelain Hermès uses for the dial is French and originates in the workshops of three-century-old Manufacture National de Sèvres, formerly the royal porcelain factory of France. (For more on another unique use of a traditional royal French table wear manufacturer, see How Hermès Transforms Crystal Into The Colorful Dial Of The Arceau Millefiori Watch.)
For the first time in history, a Swiss watch conjoins a piece of French porcelain and the Japanese art of Aka-e painting.
Master artisan Buzan Fukushima has painted these twelve exquisite dials using the Japanese art form that enjoyed its heyday in the nineteenth century. Aka-e is a type of ukiyo-e (a genre of woodblock print and painting that blossomed from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries in Japan), and its predominant red color is said to have been a talisman.
The enamel takes on subtly graded shades of red and ochre combined with an ultra-fine layer of gold. Fukushima needs three firings to fixate the festive scenery of the horse race onto the French porcelain. As Fukushima generally practices his art form on much larger surfaces such as vases, it goes without saying that the miniscule work requires his full attention.
La femme aux semelles de vent
A second Aka-e painted model (shown above) produced in a series of 12 pieces is a representation of the scene called “La femme aux semelles de vent” (“the woman with soles of wind”), a motif first seen on an Hermès scarf from 2009 brought out during Hermès “year of travel.” (Side note: Hermès products fall under a certain theme every year, a practice that binds many of the items created across fourteen product categories within a year.)
The motif was created to honor Alexandra David-Néel (1868-1969), a French/Belgian explorer, spiritualist, and writer who extensively traveled Asia. Artist Aline Honoré created the design for the scarf.
The dial’s (and the scarf’s) main scene depicts David-Néel and companion Lama Yongden making their way toward Lhasa, the “forbidden” capital of Tiber. David-Néel reached Lhasa in 1924.
It, too, boasts a porcelain dial painted in various shades of red using the Japanese technique called Aka-e, but it does not have the gold layer.
The absence of numerals on this very limited edition of the Slim d’Hermès proves that the case shape and size itself is as much of a draw as the amazingly beautiful new typography created by Philippe Apeloig, which really sets the Slim d’Hermès apart from competitor products.
These unique painted porcelain dials are housed in a 39.5 mm white gold Slim d’Hermès case. The whole watch is powered by the brand-new ultra-flat Caliber H1950, whose micro rotor helps keep it so svelte at just 2.6 mm in height.
Indeed, this watch is a comprehensive, integrated work of art.
Foe more information on the new Slim d’Hermès, please read Introducing Slim d’Hermès: The Elegant New Backbone Of The Hermès Collection.
Quick Facts Koma Kurabe
Case: 39.5 mm, white gold, transparent case back
Movement: automatic Caliber H1950, ultra-flat at 2.6 mm in height; micro rotor; 21,600 vph; very fine finishing
Dial: porcelain from Manufacture National de Sèvres with miniature painting by Japanese artisan Buzan Fukushima
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: 12 pieces
Price: 60,000 Swiss francs