Talking Watches features watch enthusiasts, celebrities, and serious collectors getting together with the HODINKEE editorial team to, you guessed it, talk about watches. Today, we bring you the second episode from HODINKEE Japan, featuring Naoya Hida. Before jumping into the world of watches, Hida was active as a professional modeler creating original cast models for garage kits. In the 1990s, Hida started his career in sales and marketing for watch brands including Eterna, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, and Breguet. He was also behind the launch of F.P. Journe and Ralph Lauren Watch & Jewelry in the Japanese market.
Virtually everyone in the Japanese watch industry knows Hida, and he finally launched his own brand to create his ideal watches. We have featured the brand’s debut piece NH Type 1B (on HODINKEE Japan) and this year’s brand new NH Type 2A. I must admit, we expected a somewhat dress-centric collection before meeting him, but his personal lineup turned out to be quite diverse. Let’s look into them.
Of all watches he brought to us, this was the very first piece he picked up. He appreciated the fact you could observe the internal mechanism from both sides, and he spent hours studying the components in action and the movement structure with a loupe when he first got into the watch industry. I’d say it is not common for someone to choose a watch with this level of skeletonization as their first piece. Perhaps his childhood experience — opening up a gifted watch that stopped working and falling love with the mechanism — led him to make this piece the first watch he purchased on his own.
Seiko x Giugiaro Design Speedmaster
Giugiaro designed several pieces for Seiko, and this one was introduced in 1983. Hida first saw this watch at a Giorgetto Giugiaro design exhibition held at his hometown museum in Kyoto, which included not only cars but also household electronics and even pasta! He was not able to acquire the watch then, but he would eventually bump into one by chance and purchase it for a reasonable price. He doesn’t feel too comfortable wearing the original vintage piece as a daily driver, and he opted to wear the 2013 re-edition model regularly instead.
Ebel 1911 Automatic
This watch has a special place in Hida’s heart as he made his first visit to Switzerland for Ebel. The Frederic Piguet Cal. 951 automatic movement runs this very thin piece. An interesting and rather uncommon aspect of this watch is that while the entire case and bracelet are made of stainless steel, the crown is made of white gold. He was told that gold, which is highly corrosion proof, was used for the crown because it would be handled by the user the most. Such attention to detail, as well as the fact that this kind of decision-making process in watchmaking flowed through a large organization from the top down, made an impact on Hida.
Vacheron Constantin Round Watch
Hida chose this vintage round-shaped Vacheron Constantin for its hand-wound movement and center-seconds configuration. In the 1960s, the era this piece is from, the industry thought the center seconds was the future of watchmaking, and some even modified existing small seconds hand-winding watches into a center seconder. At trade shows like Baselworld and SIHH, he kept several watches from manufacturers he worked with in his pockets and swapped them out on his wrist as he walked into each manufacturer’s booth. This watch was one of those pieces, and he remembers the VIPs of VC praised his choice when they saw this vintage piece for the first time.
Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 2383
While he was representing Breguet, his research into their biggest competitor, Patek Philippe, led him to actually fall in love with the competitor brand. While Ref. 2483 shares the dial layout with the Ref. 96, the former measures 33mm across its case instead of 30mm on the latter. The watch houses a hand-wound caliber 12-120 and features, in his opinion, a well-balanced dial layout. His ideals for his own watchmaking — like having the small seconds positioned closer to the perimeter of the dial instead of the center and using a large movement in a relatively small case — were solidified by this watch.
NAOYA HIDA & Co, NH TYPE 1B
The watch Hida wore to the filming was his first production model, NH TYPE 1B, which debuted last year. This watch is an embodiment of his experience in the industry and what he has learned from the watches he’s owned. From the case size to the location of the small-seconds dial, the watch is packed with his design philosophy. Check out our Hands-On article (in Japanese) of the piece for details.
Universal Genève Polerouter
There was a period Hida collected several watches equipped with a micro-rotor, and an example of such pieces is this Universal Genève Polerouter. The manufacturer commissioned Gérald Genta to design a watch to commemorate the launch of Scandinavian Airlines’ direct flights from New York/Los Angeles to European destinations. The watch featured antimagnetic properties, which was uncommon back then.
Swatch Sistem 51
The Sistem 51 left a deep impression on Hida when it debuted at Baselworld, and he purchased this watch at Zurich airport on his way to SIHH in the following year. What this watch brought to the table — like its fully automated manufacturing process, long power reserve despite the low price, and respectable timekeeping accuracy, to name a few — made Hida, who’s been in the industry for years, realize that watch manufacturing was transitioning into a new era.
This piece was designed exclusively for the fundraising effort of the International Museum of Horology (Musée International d‘Horlogerie). Ludwig Oechslin, then-director of the museum and a watchmaker, tasked industrial designer Christian Gafner with designing the watch. An independent watchmaker Paul Gerber worked on its highly modified movement. Hida would bump into someone wearing this watch once in a while, and he finds most of them to be serious collectors. He sees this watch as a sort of secret handshake, a membership card to the club of watch enthusiasts. It is an interesting conversation piece no matter how you cut it.
Ralph Lauren Slim Classic
Ralph Lauren, a highly detail-oriented designer and a watch enthusiast, launched Ralph Lauren Watch & Jewelry Co. with the Richemont Group. The Slim Classic is a very thin watch featuring a manufacture movement RL430 by Piaget. This watch, with its guilloché dial and ornate bezel design, serves as a bit of an accent piece for his outfit.
King Seiko Hi-Beat
This King Seiko Hi-Beat is Hida’s most recent acquisition. He became a fan of Seiko’s design from the 1970s, and he started to look into King Seiko, which shares the design language with Grand Seiko, as the GS price has risen considerably in recent years. He is fond of the unique design cues with a direct lineage to modern Seiko and Grand Seiko.