Out-and-about in Japan, walking down a city street, in a department store, waiting at the train station—when you look up to see what time it is you’ll likely be looking at a large Seiko clock. The same things we love about Seiko watches are evident in the clocks. Conservative design. Highly legible. Dignified. Distinctly Seiko.
Both Naoto Fukasawa and Riki Watanabe design clocks for Seiko. Today I’d like to glance at the wall where interior design and horological design meet.
Power Design Project
The wall clocks in the Seiko Design Project contain many elements shared by those in the Riki Watanabe line. They come in several sizes, above in small (200 mm diameter), medium (265 mm), or large (310 mm). In addition, you can choose a case that is all black, or white. The small size retails for ¥25,000, the medium for ¥28,000, and the large for ¥30,000.
For those who prefer digital wall clocks, there is a model for you. Again, it comes in small (¥5,000), medium (¥7,000), and large (¥10,000), and in either black or white. The clocks do not show seconds, only the hours and minutes for easy reading of the time. The readout has been designed with “crosstalk” or “ghosting,” which makes the numbers stand out clearly when viewed from an angle.
The small and medium versions come with a detachable bases so they can be used as a table clocks. They synchronize with both the 40kHz and 60kHz atomic clock signals in Japan.
Riki Watanabe Designs
Riki Watanabe also designs several clocks for Seiko. This is nothing new for the 97-year-old. He designed clocks for Seiko in the 1960s and ’70s too.
Like the Power Design clocks, Riki’s clocks come in identical versions of different sizes, and some of the wall clocks have detachable bases so they can be used as desk clocks. They too are highly legible (a good thing for old eyes), and reasonably priced.
The Riki Watanabe Plywood has a wooden body made by a tambourine manufacturer. There are two face designs which use different font styles, each version comes in a small (203 mm; ¥5,000) and large (365 mm; ¥10,000) clock.
Perhaps it’d be ideal to buy each size of a version and display them on walls facing different directions, like Watanabe’s masterpiece pair of clocks near Hibiya Station in Tokyo. But they also look great one piece displayed alone.
Riki’s 1970 wall/desk clock design was re-released last year (pictured above, and below). It comes in red, white, yellow, and blue, silver, and gold, and retails for ¥10,500. Read more about it here.
A Web site explains Watanabe used a font called Clarendon for the numbers, created by Robert Besley in 1845. It’s a font sometimes used by Starbucks. You can read more here.
There is also a Riki Aluminum clock (¥21,000), similar to one he designed decades ago, and a Riki Steel clock (¥14,490). All of these clocks are made by Seiko for Lemnos, a Japanese company that specializes in selling high-design interior goods and wall clocks. By the way, Lemnos is a Greek Island sacred to the god of metallurgy.
To visit Lemnos’ Web site, click here.
The clocks above (especially the Watanabe designs) are some of the best bargains going for Seiko enthusiasts, yet are rarely discussed by Japanese watch fans on forums or blogs — it’s mostly interior design fanatics aware of these pieces.