DEC­LA­RA­TION OF IN­DE­PEN­DENCE FOR GRAND SEIKO

WatchTime - - CONTENTS - By Joe omp­son

| 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

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