When it comes to watchmaking, Logan Kuan Rao is motivated by a Chinese proverb that, loosely translated, says your character is shaped by your environment.
And by another, much less philosophical phrase: Made in China.
Both have been on his mind recently as Mr. Rao, an independent watchmaker based in China’s southern port city of Guangzhou, completed the first piece of his second design, called the Wuwei. It took time, but he has worked out how to use limited resources to make the watch, a 37.5-millimeter time-only mechanical piece, almost entirely by hand.
“Wuwei is a Taoist philosophical concept, not strictly defined, that means nondoing,” he said. “I’m only focusing on the design of the movement, the atmosphere, the shape, the parts in the movement. It’s a way of honoring the mechanical design.”
Mr. Rao, 27, hopes to complete another one or two Wuweis in the next few months. And now that he has honed the process, he intends to deliver 10 a year.
The past decade has been something of a horological journey, Mr. Rao said.
“I started learning watchmaking about 10 years ago in high school, when I was in a Chinese watchmakers’ forum, and I started collecting cheap Chinese-made watches,” he said. “Then, I started to collect vintage watches, and I developed a very niche taste. But the watches were too expensive. So, I decided to try to make one for myself.”