Views from Within the Subculture

In order to further understand the steampunk culture more than just an outsider looking at it with my own views. So, in order to get any sort of idea of what it is actually like within the subculture, I decided to look up an old interview between an interviewer from a website site (known as, with a steampunk craftsmen from Japan.

The crafter’s name was Haruo Suekichi, a man who specialises in hand-crafted, steampunk style timepieces all the way in Tokyo. Suekichi makes all sorts of watches and nifty wrist devices using various rustic and authentic designs to put them into the steampunk era style.

(Examples of Suekichi’s works)

The interview between them went as such:

(Interviewer) Your watches have an antique, yet very futuristic form and design. Where do they come from? What inspires you?

(Suekichi) – When I make watches, it doesn’t usually start with design but with “fun”: fun gimmicks, fun looking, unique way of wearing them. They need to be fun, because they are more gadgets than watches to me. So the inspiration comes from everything that I find fun or interesting. My latest watch is based on my latest experience of watching the birth of cicada nymphs.

So there are no Japanese anime or historic events that influenced your Steampunk style?

– I had actually never known the word Steampunk before some magazine introduced my work as one. Now I know that brass and leather are significant materials for Steampunk, but I started using them because they are easy to use. Brass is the best material to make these watches, easy to melt, bent and make shapes. As a child, I liked this sci-fi comic book called Galaxy Express 999 by Reiji Matsumoto, and I’d say it must have some influence on my work, but I don’t know how or where. Other than that, I never watched any sci-fi anime. I never was into making those plastic models of ships and stuff either.

Do you make everything from scratch? 

– Everything but the movement. That’s the only thing I actually buy. Everything else I make from scratch. Heat the brass with my blowtorch, bent it, make shapes into all the parts from the frames to dial faces. The hardest part is carving the numbers on dial faces. I have my handmade protractor table. I put a plate on it and carve numbers, so that they are accurate. It takes a lot of time and concentration.

Why do you make watches? And for whom?

– All my life, I have always loved to make things on my own, and I have made a lot of things – I still do make lots of other stuff besides watches. But my passion for watches started when I was working in a wholesale store for toys and gadgets. I often visited this watchmaker that was a client of the store. It looked very interesting and I watched and learned how to make watches. I’d say I started making them for myself, like other gadgets and toys I make. I create them to make my fun imagination happen in reality. Luckily, a lot of people started liking them, so now I make them for those people now, too.

What are your plans with these watches? 

– The plan is to not have a plan. I’m a pretty impulsive person and when I make a a watch, I need to want to make that watch, you know. I’ve been this way for like 15 years and look how far I have come? So why should I change now?

Will you ever sell them overseas?
– I would love to, if you tell me how to do it. (laugh)

If you could live in any era, which one would it be?

Probably the 1960s, in Japan. I would love to have experienced the Japanese “post-war economic miracle.” Just the idea of growing and changing so much in such short time is exciting. It must have been a lot of energy in creative world too, varieties of opportunities and inspiration… I’d love to be there and just create whatever comes to my mind!

My opinion 

Having seen this interview with an actual member of the culture has actually supported my views on the subculture more than I originally thought, as I believed that members were more interested in the concept of the style rather than the DIY area creativity, however, I found that this was actually the opposite of what it really is like for them.

I found from what Suekichi said during his interview that he was more interested in the almost endless creativity of the style more than its actual concept and that he loves to make his steampunk inventions before even designing them just to see how fun they look in the end, and constantly says that he creates them in creative ways to make each one fun look at.

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