Kurono Tokyo is a brand of watches designed by AHCI watchmaker Hajime Asaoka and produced in limited numbers for the international market. The related Chrono Tokyo brand was marketed in Japan by the same company in association with retailer TiC TAC.
Hajime Asaoka is one of the most respected independent watchmakers, having joined the AHCI in 2015 and selling a limited series of hand-made watches. In April 2018, Asaoka introduced a line of affordable watches in association with the Japanese retail chain TiC TAC. These watches were marketed with the Chrono Tokyo brand, featuring a hexagonal logo surrounding the word, “CHRONO” on the dial. The Kurono Tokyo brand was introduced in June 2019 for international sales. Named as a transliteration of the Japanese Hiragana for “Chrono”, “クロノ”, these are labeled “Bunkyō Tokyo” as well. The watches are produced by Precision Watch Tokyo Co., Ltd.
The combination of names has caused some confusion about the brand. Although clearly launched as “Chrono”, it was renamed “Kurono” for the international market. And the use of “Tokyo” and “Bunkyō Tokyo” on the dials has also caused some confusion, though both are simply a reference to the location of Precision Watch. To Japanese speakers, there is no difference between the “Chrono” and “Kurono” branding.
Chrono Tokyo watches, branded “CHRONO” in a hexagonal shape, were only sold in the domestic market by the retailer, TiC TAC. These use a black-on-white or white-on-black color scheme. Each was produced in a limited edition, usually of 50. Chrono Tokyo watches were only marketed and supported in Japan and are not intended for the world market, which has caused concerns and drawn criticism from international buyers.
The first Chrono Tokyo watches appeared in April of 2018, with 7 limited editions of 50 examples of the original time-only model produced through 2020. These 350 watches used the Miyota 90S5 movement and share the same case but with eight different dials. A chronograph model, in two limited editions of 50, was produced in 2020. It uses the NE86A movement and 50 each were produced in white and black dial variants. In 2021, Kurono Tokyo announced the retirement of the Chrono Tokyo brand with a total of 450 watches produced.
The Kurono Tokyo brand was launched in 2019 as an international model. The dial features the Hiragana characters “クロノ” (“Kurono”) along with “Bunkyō Tokyo” (indicating the district in Tokyo in which Asaoka's studio is located).
The first model came in June 2019 and was a re-edition of three existing Chrono Tokyo models. The Mystic Gray and and Midnight Blue (similar to the CT001G and CT002B respectively) were available for order from the company, while the Eggshell White (similar to CT002V) was only available from Sincere Fine Watches of Singapore. In December, Kurono Tokyo and Chrono Tokyo simultaneously released two more models Known as “Reiwa” in international models and simply “Classic” domestically, these had a black inner dial and gray/silver or bronze/copper outer accents.
On April 30, 2020, Kurono Tokyo also introduced their first chronograph model. The Chronograph 1 was produced in two limited editions of 68 pieces, white-on-black or black-on-white. These used Seiko's respected column wheel vertical clutch automatic chronograph Cal. NE86A. The company later issued 50 more of each under the domestic Chrono Tokyo brand as Ref. CH001K and CH002W. The Chronograph 1 was a finalist in the “Chronograph” category of the GPHG awards that year.
Kurono Tokyo celebrated the first anniversary of the brand in June 2020 with the Anniversary Green “森 Mori” model. The dial is similar to the “Classic” CT002B but is a striking metallic green color. This edition eventually included 288 examples, more than the total of 250 Kurono Tokyo watches produced to date. The expansion of the series was necessary to keep up with customer demands, as the company's website was not able to handle the load and left many customers upset. The Mori was also selected as a finalist in the “Challenge Watch” category for the prestigious GPHG award in 2020.
The next Kurono Tokyo model was the “Grand Akane”, another variation on the time-only model with an urushi dial with “Hamon” pattern. This exotic dial technique is never seen at this price point and the 200 examples offered sold out in just a few minutes. The production Grand Akane also features a new caseback featuring the signature of Hajime Asaoka, which will be featured on the future “Grand” line of watches.
On February 20, 2021, Kurono Tokyo offered the Chronograph 2 for sale. It features a novel brown dial with copper accents, designed to catch the light and offer varying shades and textures. The 500 examples offered also sold out in under 4 minutes.