Watchmaking in Japan

Daizoh Makihara: horological delicacies

July 2024

Daizoh Makihara: horological delicacies

This former cook made a radical career change in the mid 2000s. In a process that is the horological equivalent of slow cooking, he makes one watch per year and only invites other artisans for unique combinations.


n a one-room atelier at his home in Saitama prefecture, about one hour north of central Tokyo, 45-year-old Daizoh Makihara designs, manufactures, decorates and assembles watches. Quite a career shift for a former cook who made a life change by going to jewellery college from 2006 to 2011.

The only thing Mr. Makihara doesn’t do in his time-consuming approach is the traditional dial in the form of Edo Kiriko glasswork. This is where intricate patterns, normally used for glasses and tumblers, are cut one line at a time by holding the dial towards the edge of a diamond-sharp grinder with extremely steady hands. Mr. Makihara was initially turned down by seven glass artisans before the eighth agreed to give it a go; to apply a cross-linear, lace- and chrysanthemum-inspired pattern on a 0.8mm-thin dial.

Daizoh Makihara in his studio
Daizoh Makihara in his studio

“My watch uses a traditional Japanese technique that no one else uses in watchmaking except me,” said Mr. Makihara – a full member of AHCI since 2022 – about being the one and only watch brand combining haute horlogerie with Edo Kiriko.

The dial on his first watch, the Kikutsunagimon Sakura, released in 2018, is an intricate pattern reminiscent of lace and chrysanthemum, which reflects the translation of the model name: chrysanthemum connecting to a cherry blossom pattern.

But where is the cherry blossom? It is hand-engraved by multi-skilled Mr. Makihara on the hand-wound movement’s bridges, thus capturing this fleeting moment for generations to come. “The engraving process is done after all steps have been completed. It takes about two weeks to do it carefully,” Mr. Makihara said of the sold-out model.

Kikutsunagimon Sakura with its intricate Edo Kiriko dial
Kikutsunagimon Sakura with its intricate Edo Kiriko dial

The first example of Mr. Makihara’s second model, Beauties of Nature, was completed in 2021. “This is what I am currently producing. Beauties of Nature expresses the beauty of nature and is equipped with a three-dimensional automaton,” he said of the DM 02 calibre.

The poetic timepiece, which took almost three years to complete, allows the automaton’s petals to bloom and close at 24-hour intervals. Priced at around USD 160,000, Beauties of Nature also features a perpetual moon phase (one day error in 122 years) and Edo Kiriko glasswork on the front sapphire glass. Mr. Makihara has decorated both the front and back of the movement with the classical hemp leaf pattern. Currently, he produces only one Beauties of Nature per year. Should you wish to join the seven-year waiting list, you can contact Mr. Makihara through his website.

The Beauties of Nature model currently takes most of Mr. Makihara's time.
The Beauties of Nature model currently takes most of Mr. Makihara’s time.

After 18 years as a watchmaker, he still cherishes his previous experiences as a cook. ”There are similarities between the worlds of watchmaking and cooking. If delicate work and orderly preparations are not properly managed, it will be difficult to provide services and products that satisfy customers, and both professions have given me wonderful experiences and the joy of achievement,” said Mr. Makihara, who revealed that his near future is all set.

”I already have plans for my third and fourth models. The third will be a simple three-hand man’s watch with a size of 36mm to 38mm. The fourth is a woman’s watch. The designs are almost finished, so I will make them when I find time.”

The Europa Star Newsletter