Appearance: There were two prime variations of inro dokei:
The European watch, mainly English, was adapted by the Japanese clockmaker. These featured ordinary verge escapement and balance wheel, with or without repeating striking, plus had fusee chain or cat-gut on the barrel, but the fusee chain was more common. The Japanese fitted a single hand, as in all Japanese time-pieces. They adopted the namagata dial with moveable hour markers around the chapter ring, held in place by springs on the back of the dial.
The Japanese produced miniature makura-dokei brass clocks. They were either ornamented on the face with cloisonne, or elaborately engraved. The escapements were verges, the balance-wheels were brass. The key was kept in a little drawer fastened to the bottom of the clock, or attached to the inro cord. These are always covered with a wooden cage with a sliding door at the back, which is attached to the belt by means of an ornamented brass handle. The cases have glass on the front and sides and a highly ornamented wire gauze for one-third of the height on the side to let out the sound; or they are carried in a wooden case with a round glass in front, the top of which lifts off, but is attached to a string which goes around the whole case through holes made in the woodwork for the purpose, and to this the key is attached. This is fastened to the belt and is protected by a very highly ornamented leather case, which easily slips over the wooden one, which is generally carved. All of the brass work is highly ornamented.
Period: Late – 1825 to 1875
Usage: All inro watches were adapted to be worn on the obi, or sash which is one of the principal articles of both male and female attire. The Japanese dress had no pockets except in the sleeves, and articles of value could not be carried there; everything is adapted to the obi worn round the waist in the ordinary Japanese dress.
Example: From John Read Collection – left: cased verge pocket watch / right: Japanese cased wadokei.