The brand-new Uruga collection from Japanese watchmaker Minase presents an intriguing array of 42mm and 31mm options. “Uruga” is an acronym of the Japanese words uruwashii and (麗しい) and miyabi (雅, also read as ga), which mean “beauty” and “elegance.” First impressions indicate that the brand is delivering on both principles. 

Minase Uruga — an interesting case structure

Japanese watchmaker Minase is no stranger to us here at Fratello. We collaborated with the brand on the Fratello × Minase M-3 “Very Peri.” Now Minase is introducing a new series of watches under the Uruga collection in both 42mm and 31mm case sizes. Each offers the choice of a steel bracelet, a leather strap, and several dial colors for a plethora of options.

The Uruga watches utilize a construction in which the elements of the case are clamped into place. This construction sandwiches the crystal between the bezel and mid-case, securing everything with four clamps. These clamps (at 2, 4, 8, and 10 o’clock), along with the bezel and lugs, display a brushed finish with high-polished bevels. Furthermore, the Uruga watches follow the Minase Original Rebuilding Equation (MORE). This patented approach allows Minase’s watchmakers to disassemble all exterior parts of the watch and replace each individually if necessary. According to Minase, this case-construction method takes inspiration from Japanese three-dimensional puzzles. The 31mm version, which Minase designed for ladies, features six genuine diamond hour markers and utilizes the same case construction as its 42mm counterpart.

When disassembled, the case looks like an elegant watch sandwich with each element locking into the next. It is certainly worth a look, as is the bracelet construction. And if you’re considering buying one of these watches, I’d certainly recommend buying one with the factory bracelet. The brand says no screws or pins should be visible when the watch is on the wrist. This is thanks to the use of tiny screws on the underside of each bracelet link.

Tried and tested movements

The 42mm watches utilize a caliber based on the ETA 2892-A2 movement, a higher-end caliber compared to the more familiar ETA 2824-2. This movement receives polished bevels, decoration on the bridges and mainplate, hand-done perlage, and blued screws. The 31mm watches have an ETA 2671 with similar levels of decoration and treatment. Both come with rotors modified to showcase the brand’s drill-head logo.  Because of the caliber inside, the larger watch has a 50-hour power reserve. The Uruga collection is water resistant to 5 ATM, which is a bit of a shame because the larger models look particularly sporty and a 10 ATM rating would be welcome for a true “go anywhere, do anything” watch. 

When it comes to the dials, the Uruga collection takes inspiration from the natural world. The horizontally embossed pattern on the dial looks pretty amazing on the brand’s website. For me, it brings strands of DNA to mind. The dials will likely come alive when handled in the metal. Minase says the dials’ array of interlacing lines symbolizes infinity and was inspired by the “waves of the Minase river” in Japan. The case and bracelet are treated to Zaratsu (Sallaz) polishing, an impressive method of polishing the metal that requires high levels of technical skill and is sure to give these watches a sophisticated look.  

Minase Uruga 42 and 31

Final thoughts

Minase has provided some very interesting contenders in the sub-$10,000 price bracket. In fact, the 42mm version retails for US$5,650 on a bracelet (US$4,400 on a strap) and is an intriguing option for those who value the time and craft involved in these timepieces. To see all of the options available, visit the Minase website.

My only gripe with these? I just wish the bigger models had slightly better water resistance. But what about you, Fratelli? What is your impression of these watches?