Based in Toronto and New York City

, Nancy Matsumoto is a writer and editor who covers sustainable agriculture, food, sake, arts and culture.

Archival posts from my former blog, Walking and Talking

Dedegumo: Bespoke Japanese watches come to New York

The other day I visited a recently opened Japanese shop on the Lower East Side called Dedegumo. It's the first U.S. and first foreign branch of a Kyoto-based handmade watch shop, founded by designer Izumo Senko. For anyone interested in Japan and/or Japanese design, it's well worth a visit.

Atlanta entrepreneur Bob Guest fell in love with the shop during a business trip to Kyoto and decided to bring Dedegumo watches to New York. He found a tiny space on Orchard Street just south of Houston, hired Brooklyn-based woodworker James Harmon to craft gorgeous shelving for the tiny workshop/showroom, and installed reclaimed wooden floors from a Buster Brown shoe factory in Missouri.

The result is a Japanese-style jewel box of a shop that embodies the simple yet subtle aesthetic of shibui.
Guest hired six artisans, all of them designers or jewelry makers, to work two shifts in the tiny, well-laid out workshop at the front of the store, where visitors can observe them at work. One of them is my former Japanese classmate and friend, Kai.

A Nippy leather skiver and a built-in anvil fit snugly between two work spaces. Kyoto artisans from the main store flew in to train their New York counterparts, while Guest stocked up on watch parts from Japan and four miles worth of Italian leather for watch bands.

Bands, faces, and even the color of the watch hands can be customized, and each watch is made from start to finish by a single artisan, usually taking about three days to complete and quality check. Dedegumo’s 150 designs ($350-$650) range from the delicate to the quirky to the masculine, featuring hand-stamped brass frames and numbers, and intricately buckled leather bands.

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