Kiura Chrono: Minimalist Masterpiece

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Kiura chronograph

I recently ripped Italian watch designer Alessio Romano a new one. I dubbed his Ora Major “the world’s most illegible timepiece, comprised of two armless stick figures rotating around each other like drunken sailors.” I stand by my assessment. And now I’m crediting Sr. Romano with designing a minimalist masterpiece: the Kiura Chrono . . .

I know: where are the sub-dial’s indices? Which sub-dial does what and what damn good are they without indices? What’s the point of a chronograph that only vaguely keeps track of time? Well exactly. If ever there was a post-modern (i.e. hugely, self-consciously ironic) watch, the Kiura Chrono is it. Alternatively, it’s funny!

“KIURA recalls the Sicilian shout-out ‘chi ura’,” Sr. Romano’s website informs us. “In the dialect of the watch’s designer that mean ‘che ora’ (what time is it in Italian).” Anyone who’s spent time in Sicily – an island where business is often conducted at a leisurely pace (occasionally at the business end of a gun) – has got to appreciate a watch making fun of time (or else).

Kiura Chronograph on its side

Alternatively, the Kiura Chrono appeals to intellectually challenged fashionistas. Sr. Romano defends his creation as being “free from all those confusing (and unnecessary) markings that few understand.” Some might say the Italian designer is projecting there, but I couldn’t possibly comment. Anyway, off to Japan!

Kiura is also a word that delves into the culture and language of Japan. In Japan where simplicity, harmony, ethics, and severity are the pillars of the welfare of the inner life, it is also the principle that have inspired past designers and present designers today alike to reflection and re-evaluation of the classic watch; the chronograph. 

Kiura Chrono designer Alessio Ramano

Kiura embodies these characteristics by reducing and simplifying every aspect’ of the classic” chronograph, by returning it to the essence of its simple and pure graphics ensuring maximum efficiency and precision.

Maximum efficiency and precision? The joke’s on us, apparently.

That said, how many chronographs qualify as minimalist? As I pointed out in my review of the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Chronograph, using the chronometer as a chronometer is a bitch, what with six overlapping white hands competing for space on an black and white dial. All of the Kiura Chrono’s hands are easy to read all the time – even if they tell you nothing at all.

Kiura Chrono detail

I’m also deeply smitten with the rehaut’s tiny numbers. Where so many watch designers make a big deal out of the hour markers, the Kirua Chrono’s numbers are like a gentle reminder. Laugh all you like, but they remind me of Grand Seiko’s “less is more” aesthetic (where applicable).

As for the negative space at the top of the dial, don’t be so negative. The branding typography – or the lack thereof – is a feature, not a bug. The Kiura Chrono displays the same monastic restraint that makes The Generic Watch Co. one of my favorite brands. The Kiura matches TGWC in another way: it’s cheap. Amazon will sell you one for $262 (no commission on link).

Alession Romano nails it

OK, the Kiura Chrono’s a quartz watch. But it’s 40mm and the case is made of black iron-plated stainless steel, connected to a matching honest-to-god leather strap. More than that, it’s gorgeous and it’s art. If you buy a Kiura, you’re a patron, not a punter. A supporter of the fine art of horological minimalism. A friend of ours. That said . . .

Lilienthal Berlin Chronograph

If you want the same vibe in a chrono that actually keeps track of elapsed time, check out the German-made, quartz-powered Lilienthal Berlin Chronograph. It’s currently 25 percent off using the code GET25, on your wrist for $284.25 all-in. (Click here to buy, no commission paid.)

Oh and FYI? The Kiura Chrono’s left sub-dial measures time in minutes, the center dial tracks seconds, and the right dial measures time in 24-hour increments. Of course.

UPDATE: A reader ordered this watch from watches.com. It arrived with the sub-dial hands knocked off-center – and a made in China sticker. Given my anti-Chinese watch, pro-human rights rants, I’ve been properly chastened.

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