The origin. And pride.

The new brand logo of MINASE is designed in the motif of a “step drill,”
which is the basis of our watchmaking and still has an important meaning.

Step drills are our origin.

We constantly pursue advanced watches based on creative ideas
and technologies while adhering to our basic principles.
This logo represents the spirit and pride of MINASE.

Looking back, the origin of MINASE was probably a single step drill.
MINASE started with the question, “What type of watch could we make if we try to make the ideal watch using our original tools, which have come to be used by many watch manufacturers?”
MINASE is based on Kyowa Co., Ltd., which was founded as a cutting tool manufacturer in 1963. The company first handled precision drills for metal machining. Later, Kyowa’s expertise in drill manufacturing and metal cutting caught the attention of watch manufacturers, who asked us to produce a drill that could make a crown hole at one time. In Japan in those days, there were no drills that could make precise concentric stepped holes and that were highly wear-resistant. For this reason, Kyowa started to make its original step drills. Since then, our drills have been used for efficient, precise metal machining in various industries, although we did not think of making watches by ourselves at that time.
Taking advantage of our original step drills, we entered the watch manufacturing industry and started the business of manufacturing watch cases in parallel with our tool business. We have created our own drills and jigs to meet the machining requirements of watch manufacturers’ designs. As we gained more experience in pressing and cutting, we naturally came to handle increasingly complicated watches.
Later, we started to manufacture bracelets and cases not only for mass-produced watches, but also for high-quality ones, including those of world-famous watch manufacturers. High-quality watches necessarily require high-precision machining and fine polishing, and so we mastered polishing techniques. At first, we were only imitating others, but our pride as a tool manufacturer eventually drove Kyowa to become an expert watchmaker. Thus, Kyowa expanded its watch business from drilling to case cutting/forging, bracelet manufacturing, and polishing.
We have tools, we can make cases, we have carried out OEM of finished products. But we still want to make our ideal watches.
Therefore, in 2005 we decided to establish our own new brand, MINASE. The brand name comes from the place name Minase in Akita Prefecture, where our workshop is located. Minase looks rather like Vallee de Joux, which is known as the birthplace of the Swiss watch industry. The snowy, remote location of Minase geographically restricts its residents, but it also increases their patience, which is essential for craftsmen. Having developed excellent tools and jigs, manufacturing know-how, and skilled craftsmen, we decided to make our ideal watches that would be treasured for more than 100 years.
Our know-how accumulated through case manufacturing is still alive in MINASE today. Sallaz polishing, a substrate preparation technique for cases, is just one example. MINASE has learned the sallaz polishing technique which is unique to Japanese high-quality watches through manufacturing the exterior of high-quality watches. Thus, by meeting the challenging demands of watch manufacturers, in 1996 we became a general watch manufacturer engaged in design, development, and manufacturing.
Starting from the Master Craft Series in 2005, we completed our goal with the HiZ Series in 2011. The complex design employing the MORE structure, sallaz polishing, case-in-case structure, etc. requires many exterior parts and makes manufacturing difficult. And yet we were determined to embody the spirit of “Japanese monozukuri” (Japanese art of making things) with our HiZ Series.
Our challenge started from a single drill, and will continue into the future.
In 2017, the original movement was completed, and we will continue to line up models incorporating the original movement.


Taking pride in taking time

There are many excellent watch factories around the world, and MINASE is proud to be one of them by employing many highly skilled craftsmen. As with Vallée de Joux, which is known as the birthplace of the Swiss watch industry, the snowy land of Minase in Akita Prefecture has instilled a sense of patience in its residents, which is an essential quality for craftsmen. Additionally, our background is as a tool manufacturer. We had designs, shapes, and structures we wanted to create, but had no suitable tools or jigs. Therefore, we started by making the tools and jigs ourselves, so it is natural for us to create parts by ourselves as far as possible.
Sallaz polishing is a substrate preparation technique for exterior parts, which MINASE excels at. MINASE successfully provides distortion-free surfaces and sharp edges to the exterior of our watches by utilizing over 30 years of experience in applying sallaz polishing to the cases of high-quality watches. There are only a few manufacturers that apply sallaz polishing even to indices on dial plates, let alone most surfaces of the case. It is time-consuming, but produces an excellent finish.
To apply sallaz polishing, we attach abrasive paper to a rotary disk, then use the disk to polish the cases and indices. We seek to minimize distortion in exterior parts, and so the cases are repeatedly forged to prevent pinholes from appearing on the surface. Then, sallaz polishing is applied to make the surface completely smooth. Finally, the sallaz-polished surfaces are usually buff-polished to completion.
One of the features of MINASE watches is the hands, which proceed as if crawling over the dial plate. The clearance between the dial plate and the lower hand is only 0.3 mm, between hands, 0.3 mm, and between the upper hand and the glass, 0.5 mm. Even a slight fault will degrade the appearance and may even cause the watch to stop. To provide accurate clearances as designed, our craftsmen adjust the bending of hands one by one and assemble them carefully.
This shows the manufacturing of a bracelet segment of HiZ DIVIDO. Bracelet segments are normally manufactured by pressing and polishing sheet materials. Nevertheless, we developed a new manufacturing method to create even more precise bracelets. In our method, segments are extracted from a metal block one by one by means of wire electric discharge machining. Then, the segments are carefully ground one by one by craftsmen to ensure the correct, consistent clearance between the segments. The required accuracy is of the order of 1/100 mm. Such high accuracy results in the delicate feel of MINASE’s bracelets, which is unique to high-quality watches. MINASE still uses the manufacturing method once found in ultrahigh-quality bracelets.
This movement is uniquely customized by MINASE. MINASE’s craftsmen apply perlage finishing to the entire surface of ETA’s movement. Perlage finishing, which creates pearly patterns on the workpiece, is normally applied to just a small area in view of the cost. And yet MINASE applies it to as large an area as possible to deliver a truly beautiful appearance and to enhance the contrast with the luster of the case. Perlage finishing grinds the surface of workpiece and consequently removes the original silver plating, and so we apply silver plating again to perlage-finished parts. We create such a beautiful finish that no one can notice that it is re-finished.
This photo shows the forging of cases, which MINASE excels at. Forging is often used as a way to manufacture cases at low cost, but MINASE repeatedly forges the cases in order to harden the material and improve the endurance. The materials are hardened by repeated forging, so MINASE performs forging at least 10 times when preparing the cases. Every forging is followed by annealing at 1,100°C or higher for 20 to 25 minutes to eliminate distortion. We take pride in making every effort.