ARITA, Saga Prefecture--Shingama kiln here specializes in Arita ware bowls and other everyday ceramics, so when its president was asked to craft a ceramic dial for a luxury watch, he knew it would take time.

It took four years.

The resulting mechanical timepiece, called the Seiko Presage Arita Porcelain Dial, was released in September, winning praise from watch lovers at home and overseas.

"The product is drawing admiration from customers in the United States and Europe who see it as embodying a Japanese (traditional) aesthetic sense," said an official of Seiko Watch Corp., a Tokyo-based company that plans, develops and sells wristwatches sold under the Seiko brand name.

Founded in 1830, Shingama kiln produces mainly rice and other small bowls and plates primarily for use by domestic consumers.

The kiln's president, Shigehiro Kajiwara, 75, decided to take on the project to develop the ceramic dial four years ago, as conditions facing the traditional porcelain had become increasingly difficult.

"We must take on challenges to open up new markets and preserve the tradition," he said.

However, many hurdles had to be overcome, since only highly precise and strong parts are adopted for wristwatches.

To create the dial with a slightly bluish white color typical of Arita ware, measuring 3.2 centimeters in diameter and just 1 millimeter thick, the ingredient needs to be baked at 1,300 degrees in a plaster mold using a technique known as slip casting.

As the dial becomes smaller when baked, the component requires adjustments to the hundredth of a millimeter.

“Designs are normally drawn based on rough estimates in the porcelain industry, for good or bad,” said Hiroyuki Hashiguchi, 54, a traditional craftsman who serves as an executive director of Shingama and supervised the watch dial project. “It was therefore extremely difficult to have the parts match.”

Shingama adjusted the water content in the ingredient to be poured into the mold be one-10th of a percentage point to ensure stable product quality. It also repeatedly adjusted the timing of glaze application and how it is applied to prevent the finished dial from warping.

The "world's strongest" ceramic material developed by Nobuaki Kamochi, 48, a specially appointed researcher at the Saga Ceramics Research Laboratory in Arita, and others around that time was adopted to pass a drop impact test so that the dial could be used as a wristwatch component.

These many efforts finally resulted in the introduction of two models of the Arita ware-based watch: one that also shows the date and is priced at 180,000 yen ($1,653), excluding tax; and a multi-indicator model available for 200,000 yen before tax.

The upscale models appear to have already proven popular. Although Shingama delivered a total of 5,000 units by the end of July, it received orders for an additional 1,500 units in August, according to Shingama representatives.