Made on the LES: Watches from dedegumo

As we noted in our story yesterday about Roasting Plant’s pilot project on Orchard Street, ambitious and creative entrepreneurs, restaurateurs and artists of all kinds are finding success in using the Lower East Side as their incubators for new ideas and fledgling businesses. Here at The Lo-Down, we begin today an occasional feature showcasing some of the items being dreamed up, designed and produced in our neighborhood. We welcome suggestions for Made on the LES here.

Artisan Kai Bailey crafts watches at dedegumo.

First up in our series, a look at handmade watches from dedegumo, a Japanese watchmaker whose first store outside of Kyoto opened on Orchard Street in early December. Inside a tiny storefront, a rotating crew of six artisans begins with a selection of metals—brass, copper, aluminum—huge spools of Italian leather in many colors and widths, and a whole lot of patience. They tinker over tiny details with intricate tools, crafting mostly unisex designs that range from $400 to $650 each. The work studio is separate from the sales floor; customers can observe the creative process from inside the store or through a big window from the street.

“There’s a history of craftsmanship here on the Lower East Side,” says store manager Carrie Guest, explaining how the company chose its first U.S. location. “It had the right feel, the right vibe.”

Each watch is based on designs imported from dedegumo’s three Japanese stores, the first of which opened eight years ago. There are seemingly infinite variations of watch faces, hands, buckles and bands. Each product is unique. The store does not offer custom watch design, but will customize their own products at a client’s request for a particular combination of face and band styles, for example, says Guest.

Eventually, dedegumo’s local store will incorporate designs from New York designers, Guest says. Right now, they are offering a seasonal specialty watch in honor of Valentine’s Day next week. It’s a necklace shaped like a heart with a watch inset, and retails for just under $400.

Dedegumo is located at 188 Orchard Street, between Houston and Stanton.