One of Japanese representative traditional arts
HISTORY OF ARITA PORCELAIN
The history of Arita porcelain dates back about 400 years, when Yi Sam-pyeong discovered the white clay kaolin and then fired Japan’s first porcelain.
In the late 19th century, the 18th-century vogue for Chinoserie (European translations of Asian decorative arts) that established new roles for East Asian furnishings in European interiors, was followed by a wave of Japonism, and ceramics became an important and increasingly celebrated trade good for the newly
industrialising Meiji Era (1868-1912) Japan.
HIGHLY PRIZED IN JAPAN FOR THE HIGH QUALITY OF THEIR ARTISTRY
Located in western Saga prefecture, IzumiyamaQuarry Arita is the original home of Japanese porcelain. In the early 17th century, the Korean potter Kanagae Sanbee I (also known as Yi Sam-pyeong) discovered a source of kaolin clay underneath the Izumiyama mountain in Arita, and began firing the nation’s first porcelain. This became known as Arita porcelain, or Arita-yaki. Consequently, Arita became the first place in Japan to produce porcelain.
From the mid-17th century, the Dutch East India Company exported large quantities of porcelain ware from Arita to buyers throughout the world, mainly in Europe. Solid and durable, Arita porcelain became known for its finely painted, vivid decorations in indigo blue, red, yellow, and gold. Arita’s techniques and traditions have been carried on over 400 years, and even today it is beloved by pottery fans the world over.
SEIKO Presage Arita Porcelain
Japan’s Timeless Traditions: Arita Porcelain
INSPIRED BY ART, FIRED BY PASSION
In the early 1600s, clay suitable for porcelain was discovered in Arita, a small Japanese town in northwest Kyushu, and a new Japanese tradition was born. By the end of the century, Arita porcelain — sometimes known as Imari ware because of the port from which it was shipped — was not only popular in Japan, it had also become a highly coveted status symbol in royal palaces throughout Europe. Enchanted by its delicate beauty, exquisite texture, and intricate, hand-painted designs, European aristocrats competed to learn the secrets of the Arita production process. Consequently, Arita porcelain greatly influenced the development of porcelain making in Europe. For over 400 years, Arita has remained the spiritual center of porcelain crafting in Japan
— the oldest kiln goes back to the Edo period
— honoring a heritage of artistic mastery that
excites collectors and fires the imagination of craftsmen throughout the world. Now Seiko Presage pays tribute to this elegant Japanese tradition with two exceptional timepieces featuring dials of Arita porcelain.
ONLY IN JAPAN: THRICE BAKED TO PERFECTION
Blending two of Japan’s most notable characteristics — tradition and technology — the Seiko Presage Arita Porcelain is a tribute to the spirit of craftsmanship. Overseen by master craftsman Hiroyuki Hashiguchi, the project involved years of experimentation, for it required a heretofore unknown level of precision; each dial has a slightly different dial colour and shape after firing, this is very unique. Additionally, a new type of Arita porcelain was formulated to increase durability. A high-precision mold is used to ensure the consistency of size, depth and recesses. After drying, the dials are baked at 1300 °C, hand glazed, and baked again. The second firing bonds the glaze to the dial and brings out the subtle blue tint. Finally, holes for the hands and date window are made, and a third baking smoothes the surfaces. The result is a dial that radiates perfection, a hallmark of Arita porcelain.
A PORCELAIN TRIBUTE
In the finest tradition of Japanese craftsmanship, two new members of the Seiko Presage series feature Arita porcelain dials. These are thicker than traditional dials, which makes possible a gentle curve, as well as the deep recesses that house the power-reserve and date indicator of one model. Both versions pay homage to Seiko’s historic 1913 Laurel — Japan’s first wristwatch — with a striking red XII. Additionally, the blue numerals are ideally complemented by the dial’s subtle bluish tint, a pleasing shade that characterizes Arita Porcelain.