The next time someone suggests that your interest in watches is boring, or says they all look the same, point them in the direction of Japanese watch brands.

Try Seiko. The company's Power Design Project is an event that began in 2001 and is back this year after a 13-year gap. This is an exercise to encourage Seiko’s "in-house designers to deeply explore the essence of watches in a style different from their regular work and to generate innovative outputs". Which is shorthand for "Gentlemen, go as nuts as you like".

Being Japanese, this is not an invitation taken lightly.

Sukiyaki by Masanori Kawamura

This time the Seiko Power Design Project’s theme is Incredibly Specialized [sic] Watches. This is an exhibition of the results of which runs until 31 March in Harajuku, Tokyo.

The Watches

Billing itself as a show of ‘Watches That 99% Of People Don’t Need’ it includes an array of quirky timepieces. Like the Patternmaker, a watch surrounding by petal-like puffy pink pillows, somewhere to hold your pins while you sew. Or the Sunny Men, a model with a Doctor Who-style telescopic disk that creates a sundial. Others includes the Sukiyaki, a watch whose face contains all the instructions you need to make the traditional hot pot-style Japanese dish (and comes presented on a pleasing beef-themed strap). Or what about the Panda Lovers, a play on the watch world’s love of black and white ‘panda’ dials so literal you can’t believe no one’s thought of it before. And the Masking Tape, a colourful masking tape dispenser with a wristwatch in the middle.

Panda Lovers by Kiyotaka Sakai

“Rather than the ‘watch-like feel’ brought into Japan from Europe, the watches here are bound to give you a ‘Tokyo-like’ feel,” explains project director Naoto Fukasawa. “In Japan, a country whose strong point lies in its attention to detail in the creation of things, the watches here are bound to feel more familiar, somehow… Tokyo-ish.”

Frankly, any of these ideas strike us as entirely more useful. More useful than, say, a moon phase indicator or a split-second chronograph or any number of other haute horlogerie complications many Swiss brands dine out on.

They’re definitely not boring. And nor do they all look the same.

Sadly, there are no plans to put anything from the Power Design Project into production. But we can dream. And please put us down in the 1% of the world that really, really does need them.

Originally published on Esquire UK