Musha Damascus Watch «Nobunaga» (Review)

I was going through Kickstarter as I usually do and found this amazing watch project and I just had to get one watch for review, and here it is, the Musha Damascus Watch «Nobunaga». Yes, the watch has a bezel made from Damascus steel. The company Musha just recently got funded in Kickstarter by 26 backers, and I’m surprised why there weren’t more backers as this is a pretty cool watch with interesting details, this is really a conversation piece. All they’re watches are made in Japan and hand assembled which nowadays is a rarity, as companies try to make the watches for cheap in China, Singapore or Hong Kong. The company name Musha from Japanese actually means Warrior. Before we talk about the watch let’s have a chat with the founder of the company Masayuki Otsuka:

1. Introduce yourself?

My name is Masayuki Otsuka from Japan
I was born on April 1988.
In 2011 I got a job at a knife manufacturing company in Seki City, and as
the production group leader, I gained experiences in various fields such as
product development, production management and logistics. In 2016 I left my
job and started my own business.
I studied engineering and design on my own, and currently work in industrial
design, exterior design and trial production of new products.

2. What started your watch passion?

The city of Seki, well-known for its blade and knife production, in Gifu
Prefecture, is a beautiful countryside city of approximately 87,000 people,
with the Nagara River, which is one of Japan’s most protected rivers,
running through the city.

Since the ancient times, Seki City has been blessed with superb water and
soil conditions, both of which are requirements for blade production, making
this city the perfect place for samurai sword making.

The city’s ancient craftsmanship of samurai sword making has evolved over
the centuries, and today it is alive and well in the production of
commercial knife products such as cutlery and scissors.

However, in recent years the blade and knife making industry of Seki City
has faced tough issues. The volume of blade and knife products shipped has
decreased in the face of competition by overseas manufacturers. At the same
time, the industry has been failing to secure successors of the
craftsmanship and heritage, due to a negative image people in their twenties
and thirties have about craftsmanship being hard work with a low pay. As a
result, some manufacturers went out of business.

My desire is to resolve these issues with my MUSHA brand.

I’d like to serve as a catalyst in increasing the potential of this city’s
blade and knife manufacturing industry by producing non-knife products, and
to attract an interest from small-to-medium businesses and the young
generations of this city to freedom they could feel and get from creative
manufacturing.

3. What makes a good wristwatch to you?

Each piece of Damascus steel used in my watches is polished by me with an
utmost care, after it goes through the usual blade and knife manufacturing
phases of machining and heat treating which are conducted by specialists in
Seki-City.

4. Who is your ideal customer?

Foreign customers who like Japanese culture

5. Tell about what you like to do outside of watches. Where do you find 
the inspiration for your work?

I often come up with ideas when I am alone.
It is when I eat alone or read while I sleep or in my dreams.

6. How do you see Musha watch brand in future?

I want to spread MUSHA all over the world.
Japanese brands are not yet famous in the world.

So the watch came in a regular rectangular box, inside you will find the watch, instructions and warranty, nothing special, but the watch is something. The first impressions were wow, as I only saw Damascus in knives, axes etc. , but to see Damascus steel in a watch is interesting. I also noticed that the second’s hand is shaped like a Japanese sword and that the strap is in the same style as they wrap their swords, I actually know this because I read a lot about the Japan culture and history.

The case itself is made from 316L stainless steel in polished finishing, but the bezel on the top of the watch is made from Damascus steel that is used in sword and knife making. Damascus steel goes back to its origin in ancient India and is characterized by unique wood-like patterns that surface as a result of banding different metals and polishing them repeatedly. Since the ancient times, Damascus steel has been used in sword-making, and today we see its application in high-end kitchen knives as well as luxury knives, due to the steel’s originality. Each and every pattern that surfaces on the steel is different depending on the parts that get sharpened, thereby making every one of the Musha Damascus timepieces truly one of a kind.  Each piece of Damascus steel used in Musha watches is polished by the founder of the company with an utmost care, after it goes through the usual blade and knife manufacturing phases of machining and heat treating which are conducted by specialists in Seki-City (which is the hometown of the founder and there Damascus steel is used in knife and sword making). The case diameter is 41mm, the thickness is 10mm, from lug to lug it measures at 49mm and the lug width is 18mm which is a quite unusual size for a 41mm watch, and on paper you would think that it doesn’t work, but when you see that watch in life, the strap doesn’t look small proportionally to the case size. At 3 o’clock you will find a push/pull crown with M etched on the side. The case back is snap on and has some specifications and Musha logo etched on it. I would like the case back to be a screw in rather than snap on as it makes easier the battery change and overall maintenance + it would improve water resistance. On the top of the dial sits a sapphire glass. Water resistance is 5 ATM (50m).

The dial is pretty simple but with cool details if you really look into it. The dial itself is glossy black, it almost looks like enamel dial that I have on my Ginault. The applied stick markers are polished and shaped as long and narrow ellipsoids of samurai sword cut marks. At 4 o’clock we have a date window. The date wheel is in white, but it would be nice if it was in black, to match the dial colour. At 3 o’clock we have a big Musha logo with Made in Japan writing. I like that they are proud that it is made in Japan and the logo actually looks good. Some companies make their logos big and they don’t look good on the dial, but this one works well. The hour and minute hands are stick shaped with pointy ends. They are also lumed, but be aware that it isn’t very long lasting, it lasts about an hour when fully charged. The second’s hand is shaped like a Japanese sword with polished finishing. That is a really neat detail.

The movement that is inside the watch is EPSON Japanese Quartz. I don’t know the exact model, but trust me, these Japanese quartz movements are like tanks. Of course, you don’t get that mechanical movement vibe, but the quartz will always stay precise, unlike the mechanical movement. The battery life is about 4 years.

Now we come to another exciting part of the watch,, which is the strap. The material of the straps in Musha watches also pay homage to samurai swords. The material used is silk braids, which is used in samurai sword-making. Silk braids were used to wrap handles of samurai swords. With the help of a long-standing braid manufacturer in Kyoto, Musha succeeded in producing straps using the «chirimen-kumi» technique («chirimen» is a Japanese traditional fabric and braid type). The silk braid straps are available in 4 colours – black, red, blue and olive. The colour I got here is the black. In addition, the silk braid straps are hole-less, allowing adjustments for a perfect fit on your wrist. The buckle is just a regular tang buckle with polished finishing. The strap is really comfortable and wears nicely on the wrist, plus as it is summer in my country when you wear for example leather, the wrist sweats, but with this silk strap it actually breads and feels nice in the summer.

Overall I really like the watch. The Damascus steel, strap and all the other small details that watch has are very interesting and it was interesting reading about what inspired this watch. This one is truly a conversation starter. You can check them out at musha.shop, the price for the watch you see here is 39800 JPY which is about 307€ or 360$. It is a pretty fair price in my opinion as you get a hell of a watch and of course, the Made in Japan is quality sign by itself!

Price: 39800JPY (307€/360$) @ musha.shop

-Full-length 260mm(US ver)

– Case: Grade 316L, steel oriented for laminated knives (Damascus steel) Case Diameter: 40 mm Case Thickness: 9 mm

– Movement: EPSON Japanese Quartz

– Glass: Sapphire glass

– Water Resistance: 5 atmospheres (suitable for everyday use)

– Strap: Silk

– Battery Life: Approx. 4 years

– Made in Japan

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