DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE FOR GRAND SEIKO
| Seiko Watch Corp. President and CEO Shinji Hattori discusses the separation of Grand Seiko from the Seiko brand.
— Since it was launched in 1960, Grand Seiko – the luxury watches that showcase Seiko’s fine watchmaking prowess – has been a special collection within the Seiko brand. On all Grand Seiko watches, the familiar Seiko logo had the dominant position at 12 o’clock. e Grand Seiko logo (yep, from the beginning it had its own logo) was in the secondary position at 6 o’clock.
Not anymore. At Baselworld, Seiko Watch Corp. President and CEO Shinji Hattori announced that Grand Seiko has been elevated to a full-fledged, separate and independent brand within Seiko Watch Corp. To signify the change, the Seiko logo has been removed from all Grand Seiko watches: e Grand Seiko label now has pride of place at 12 o’clock.
“Grand Seiko has always been distinct in its design, character and presentation, and more recently, in its calibers,” Hattori said in a statement announcing the change. “In order to further reinforce its unique appeal and to reach out to a wider audience, we are today taking one step further and presenting Grand Seiko as an entirely separate brand. From today, Grand Seiko lives a truly independent life and sets out on a new journey.”
e Grand Seiko brand will have its own trade dress and be marketed to the public and merchandised in retail stores separately from Seiko-brand watches. Grand Seiko watches are priced much higher than Seiko. Grand Seiko movements, whether mechanical, quartz, or Spring Drive, are handassembled in Japan, as are the watches themselves.
For decades, Grand Seiko watches were only available in Japan because quantities were so limited. In 2010, Seiko made Grand Seikos available on international markets. e reaction to the collection was “overwhelmingly positive,” Hattori said, and convinced Seiko management that Grand Seiko should have an identity separate from the flagship brand.
Grand Seiko launched watches in three categories at Baselworld. e first is a “historical” collection of four watches inspired by the original Grand Seiko watch that debuted on Dec. 18, 1960. ree are re-creations of the original watch containing Grand Seiko’s manual-wind Cal. 9S64 movement in a platinum case (136 pieces at $30,600), 18k-gold case (353 pieces at $17,200), and stainlesssteel case (1,960 pieces at $5,700). e fourth watch is a modern re-interpretation of the original watch in a titanium case containing automatic Cal. 9S68 (968 pieces at $7,200).
Last year, Grand Seiko introduced its first sports watches in a collection of Spring Drive chronographs with cases made of high intensity titanium and zirconia ceramic. is year it expanded the collection with a Spring Drive Chronograph GMT watch with a hybrid titanium ceramic bracelet. It comes in a limited edition of 500 pieces ($15,800) and two unlimited versions ($14,800).
Grand Seiko also introduced its first professional dive watch, the Hi-beat 36000 Professional 600m Diver’s Limited Edition. e watch features Grand Seiko’s 9S hi-beat automatic caliber that vibrates at 10 beats per second in a titanium case. It comes in two versions priced at $9,600 and $9,800. —
— At Baselworld, Seiko Watch Corp. announced the separation of Grand Seiko from the Seiko brand. Watchtime Editor-at-large Joe Thompson met with Seiko Watch Corp. President and CEO Shinji Hattori to discuss the move. JT: Why has Seiko decided, after 57 years, to give Grand Seiko its own separate identity? What were some of the factors that went into this decision? SH: Since its global launch in 2010, we have been building the reputation, distribution and sales of Grand Seiko in a steady way. Now that the foundation has been laid, I believe the time has come to go to the next stage. From now on, Grand Seiko will have its own distinctive identity and will be a fully independent brand. We will also broaden its appeal to a wider public. In Japan, Grand Seiko has already become one of the top five luxury watch brands. My aim is to achieve the same in the international market.
Every aspect of the brand will be developed. First, we are offering a wider range of design, function and price. e Hi-beat Professional Diver’s we just launched is one example. We will further expand the distribution by appointing more retailers from among the many who are asking for the brand. Finally, in our communication, in our boutiques and on our website, people will be able to feel the new world of Grand Seiko. I hope more people will see that Grand Seiko is a truly independent brand with its own history, character and visual identity. JT: As a brand, will Grand Seiko’s identity remain rooted in the extreme precision of its movements, or will it expand to include additional complications? Currently, the top complication in the collection is a chronograph. In the future, will Grand Seiko feature additional complications from the manufacture such as world timers or moon-phases, or higher complications like repeaters or perpetual calendars? SH: Ever since the start in 1960, Grand Seiko has had a strong focus on the essentials of watchmaking: precision, legibility and durability. is will remain true for every Grand Seiko watch. e clear and distinct DNA of Grand Seiko is its greatest asset and we will not change it. However, we are offering a wider collection in Grand Seiko with new models which express this same DNA.
As far as complications are concerned, I can foresee new Grand Seiko calibers in both medium complications and even higher complications in the future. You might know the eight-day power-reserve watch that our Micro Artist Studio built. It is a complication, but it is also very clearly a Grand Seiko. is is the way we will go forward. JT: Before you took over as head of Seiko Watch Corp., Seiko management was reluctant to move out of its historical strength in the midrange of the global watch market into the luxury category dominated by Swiss brands. You reversed that policy seven years ago with the launch of Grand Seiko on global markets. Now you are strengthening your presence in the luxury-watch segment. Skeptics argue that a brand renowned as a pioneer and champion of quartz watches will have difficulty competing with mechanical watches in the $5,000-to$50,000 price range. Can you elaborate on your thinking and the opportunity that you see for Seiko in that segment?
SH: For many people, Seiko is a dependable, advanced but middlepriced watch. It’s clearly a challenge for us to persuade people that our offer in the luxury segment is worth their consideration.
However, we have two great strengths. First, we now have a clearer brand portfolio than ever. Grand Seiko is now fully independent of Seiko with unique calibers, designs and presentation. We are taking a totally different strategy from Seiko and enhancing products in the price range you mentioned. Credor is equally distinct. [Editor’s note: Credor is another Seiko Group luxury-watch brand distributed only
in Japan.] In the future, I would like to market Credor internationally, but we must proceed one step at a time. Its time will come. Second, we are a real manufacture and a vertically integrated company. We can innovate and we can guarantee the very highest levels of quality. Because of this, our luxury watches are different and each one offers something unique. Credor Spring Drive Eichi and Grand Seiko Spring Drive 8-day Power Reserve model are good examples. ey are completely different from anything that is offered from Europe. Unique movements that only we can build are used. ey are handmade by selected master craftsmen in the Micro Artist Studio in Nagano Prefecture. ey are highly acclaimed for their beautiful finish. I am happy to see them selling well outside Japan.
We now have a Seiko boutique network around the world. In our boutiques, people can see, touch and feel these high-end watches and understand their quality and the story behind them. We have more than 70 Seiko boutiques today, and we plan to increase this to 100 in the near future. I am confident that we can satisfy our traditional Seiko customers and also attract new watch lovers to our luxury brands. —
‘I foresee high-complication Grand Seikos in the future.’ Seiko Watch Corp. President and CEO Shinji Hattori
Spring Drive Chronograph GMT
The re-creation of the original Grand Seiko
Hi-beat Professional Diver's Limited Edition
The re-interpretation of the original Grand Seiko