Interview with Koji Nakazawa, Founder of Celieu

Interview with Koji Nakazawa, Founder of Celieu

Koji Nakazawa is the founder of Celieu, a Japanese brand established in 2022.

Specializing in watch cases and pouches, Celieu combines meticulous craftsmanship with functional design to enhance the watch-wearing experience. In this interview, Koji Nakazawa shares his journey, his vision for the watch enthusiasts’ community, and the story behind his collaboration with Maison Jean Rousseau.

Can you tell us about your background and your involvement with watches?

I was born in Kyoto in 1979. I studied art and design at an arts high school. Then, interior design and architecture at university. After graduating, I worked in web direction at a publishing company and a web production company. Then, I became independent and founded the watch case brand “CELIEU” in 2022, where I am still working today.

My involvement with watches began in earnest when I purchased a Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic, with the aim of spreading awareness of the brand and its watches on social media. My activities were recognized by Stéphane Waser, Managing Director of Maurice Lacroix (hereinafter referred to as ML). This recognition led to the establishment of the world’s first officially recognized Maurice Lacroix Watch Club Japan (now Maurice Lacroix Club Japan).

The announcement of our first collaboration model, the Japan-only “Aikon Automatic Club Japan Edition,” drew the attention of both the New York Times and Courrier Japon, resulting in featured articles.

In 2023, we have launched a co-branded Jean Rousseau × CELIEU watch case collection.

What is your vision for the watch enthusiasts club and its evolution?

The ML Club Japan is a watch club for ML enthusiasts, with similar clubs established in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. We hope it will become a global community where ML enthusiasts can connect with each other across borders.

I also launched “All Watch Club” at the end of 2023, with the aim of providing a place where all watch enthusiasts can easily gather and create a community where they can empathize and share what they like.

There is a famous saying that “nice shoes take you to nice places.” I believe watches serve a similar purpose, as they help you meet wonderful people and forge heartfelt connections. In the future, the “All Watch Club” plans to host events in collaboration with brands and retailers to create enjoyable experiences for everyone involved.

Why did you start your own watch leather goods brand?

Nowadays, with the popularity of social media, watch enthusiasts frequently share photos of their timepieces on platforms like Instagram and X. However, I noticed many users protecting their watches with handkerchiefs or napkins in photos, fearing scratches. I was disappointed as it detracted from the watch’s inherent beauty. I also couldn’t find a small watch case that I could carry around easily, so I decided to develop one myself.

The design I developed in collaboration with Jean Rousseau is a watch pouch that has been part of CELIEU since its inception. It not only stores watches but also includes a flap that doubles as a protective tray against scratches. The reason for the launch of the brand CELIEU was that there were no watch pouches that could store folding clasp watches. So, I drew an original design that could be used as a tray to prevent scratches on watches and would look good on social media.

How did your collaboration with Jean Rousseau begin?

Both companies, in my opinion, contribute to making watches more glamorous. Our products are designed to create a meaningful connection between the watch and its wearer. Whether it’s the watch strap or the watch pouch, these items can often become the focal point. However, it’s important to note that our brands exist because of our mutual appreciation for watches.

Through my involvement in the “ML Watch Club,” I had the opportunity to meet Alexandre from Jean Rousseau Japan. I shared my thoughts on the watch club and CELIEU’s activities, and we found common ground due to our shared passion and vision. This led to discussions about a potential collaboration, prompting me to submit a presentation to Jean Rousseau’s headquarters in France.

Now, watch enthusiasts are becoming increasingly familiar with Jean Rousseau, thereby enriching the watch lifestyle experience.

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