Interview with Yoko Yamada – Watch Artisan in Tokyo

Translation by Saneyuki Owada.


Please introduce yourself and your background.

My name is Yoko Yamada, I am making hand crafted watches at my own brand “Ipsilon”. I first entered this handcraft world when I was student and I was studying metal carving at jewelry art school. After I finished school I went abroad to study jewelry crafts; I worked at a leather and textile bags artisan’s studio in Florence, Italy for 1 year. When I came back from Italy, I immediately started working at a handcrafted watch master’s office as an assistant for a couple of year and now I have started my own brand called Ipsilon.

 Please tell us about your work.

I design watches, such as the clock face and the watch belt and buy the moving parts, such as the clock hand, etc. Basically I do the whole process of watch making.


How did Ipsilon start?

Ipsilon started after I left my master’s office. Before I started my brand, I worked and learnt about hand crafted watches from my master for a couple of year, after the first year I made the time to make watches as my art work while I was also working there.

When I left the master’s office I got started in high gear watch making and started to build my brand concept of Ipsilon. It is only in recent years that I have begun to build my brand concept and it is gradually getting established. So it is a growing phase at the moment.

Where do your ideas for clocks/watches come from?

It depends. If it is for an exhibition, the atmosphere will be deeply involved with my design. If I exhibit with other person, I will arrange my design for it. I take my ideas from daily life without thought; moreover, my design reflects my interest on a moment –to-moment basis.

Where do you find the inspiration for your clock/watch designs?

I haven’t thought too much for my designs. Basically it is all my intuition. Important things fit into my mind whether I like it or not.

How long does it take to design and make a clock or watch?

This depends on different factors. If the design took a long time, I have to stop and think about it, or even do something different and refresh my mind. If the design is done quickly then sometimes I can finish in a day. If there is a design already, I am able to make it in a day.

To what extent do you draw upon your Japanese heritage for your work?

I don’t think about Japan when I design my watches.

I have no conscious desire to incorporate Japanese things; however when an Italian shop bought my watch the owner told me that through my watch they could feel a taste of Japan. I always make my watch with delicate attention, show great sensitivity and prepare the right box for each watch. I think that kind of style makes them feel something Japanese.


What do traditional Japanese crafts mean to you?

I am not making traditional Japanese crafts but I think we need to carefully protect traditional Japanese crafts in a sensitive way.

At the same time, we also need to adjust these traditional crafts to suit a more modern lifestyle. It is important that it fits in with our current daily life and use those crafts continually in order to not consign them to the distant past.

Do you have any exhibitions or events coming up?

Future events will be announced on my website Ipsilon (

Finally, any last words for anyone interested in Japanese crafts?

I believe Japanese crafts will continue to develop, become better and be more interesting by attracting the attention of foreign people.

To feel Japan-ness is difficult when you are living in Japan. It is great if we can know what foreigners think about Japan.



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