Announcing the Founding of Grand Seiko Asia-PacificBy Andre Frois
The soaring popularity of Grand Seiko is undeniable. Offering timepieces that combine traditional watchmaking with modern technology, Grand Seiko is continually garnering new fans. Besides unique and technically advanced movements, the brand also entices collectors with an increasing array of dial aesthetics. In light of this, Grand Seiko has been gradually expanding and just announced a new headquarters in the Asia-Pacific region.
On 1 October 2022, Seiko Watch Corporation will commence operations of Grand Seiko Asia-Pacific Private Limited, a new company that will be headquartered in Singapore.
Grand Seiko Asia-Pacific Private Limited is the third such company dedicated exclusively to the marketing and sales of Grand Seiko, after Grand Seiko Corporation of America and Grand Seiko Europe, S.A.S., and will be a joint venture between Seiko Watch Corporation and Thong Sia (Far East) Company Limited.
In a statement, Seiko Watch Corporation remarked that “Grand Seiko Asia-Pacific will bring decision-making about the implementation of the brand’s strategy closer to the market and allow Seiko Watch Corporation to increase its marketing investment in the brand,” and that Grand Seiko will also be opening a dedicated boutique in Marina Bay Sands soon.
Besides his current role as President of Seiko Watch Corporation, Mr Akio Naito will also take on the role of Chairman of Grand Seiko Asia-Pacific. The new company’s Managing Director will be Yoshikatsu Kawada, concurrently Executive Vice President, Seiko Watch Corporation, and the Regional Brand Director will be Ida Idris-Low. Shinji Hattori, the Chairman of Seiko Watch Corporation, and Joseph Wong, the Chairman of Thong Sia Watch Group, will both assume the role of honorary chairmen.
Quartz meets Mechanical Watchmaking
Mr Naito shared with Revolution that he is proud of Grand Seiko’s rich history in both mechanical watchmaking and quartz technology. Mr Naito emphasized how, in 1969, Seiko became the first brand to manufacture the quartz watch. The quartz watches Seiko designed required a special semiconductor integrated circuit that manufacturers did not offer, he shared, so Seiko had to develop a customized semiconductor in-house.
“In the process, we have accumulated expertise in the semiconductor area, including the development of MEMS technology, which happened to be usable in mechanical watchmaking too,” Mr Naito recalls. This unique synergy of mechanical watchmaking and modern electronics that powers Seiko watches, was thus developed.
Mr Naito added that Seiko is continuing its efforts to advance its watchmaking technology, and ceaselessly experiments with new mechanical movements.
“We even develop movements from scratch in order to improve accuracy. This is an ongoing and continual process.”
A perfect example is Seiko’s highly acclaimed Spring Drive, which is bolstered by both the technicality of a mechanical movement and the high accuracy of quartz. It is regulated by the semiconductor technology that Mr Naito mentioned, and is similar to other mechanical watches, except that it does not have a mechanical escapement. Mr Naito also revealed that he often challenges his engineers to make smaller and thinner Grand Seikos that still brandish great durability.
The Grand Seiko brand was launched in 1960 and its subtle elegance quickly garnered the attention of collectors. The vaunted 44GS of 1967 marked an important milestone for the brand, as this timepiece would inspire the design and movements of many future Grand Seikos. To fete the 55th anniversary of the 44GS this year, Grand Seiko launched several timepieces such as the Hi-Beat GMT SBGJ255, Hi-Beat Automatic SLGH009 and 44GS 55th Anniversary Limited Edition, which brandishes a deep blue sunray dial themed on a moon-lit night at the Shinshu Mountains.
Leveraging the brand’s flair with design, Grand Seiko has recently been increasing the variety of its offerings by unveiling timepieces with slightly different aesthetics. These include the SBGH287 “Snow on the Blue Lake”, SBGD209 Grand Seiko Masterpiece Collection Spring Drive 8 Days Jewellery Watch and the SLGT003 Openworked Kodo Constant-force Tourbillon.
A New Asia-Pacific Team and a New Standalone in Marina Bay Sands
Mr Naito shared that he interviewed many people from the management team of Seiko America when he moved from Tokyo to work in New Jersey in 2016. He came to realize from this experience the importance of hiring experts who know how to handle luxury watches. Mr Naito divulged that this became his priority as he expanded his Seiko and Grand Seiko teams, and hired distribution, marketing, communication and sales specialists for positions in the new Grand Seiko Asia-Pacific.
Mr Naito also highlighted that craft is very important when developing a brand to be positioned in the luxury segment, and that luxury watches need to comprise technicality, emotional value, beautiful aesthetics and heritage. With this approach, Mr Naito has formed a Grand Seiko Asia-Pacific team with a wide array of expertise, and who all understand these important aspects of luxury watches.
“We previously did not have a subsidiary in Singapore, which was why we hadn’t opened a Grand Seiko boutique in Singapore, up until now,” commented Mr Naito.
Mr Naito divulged that Grand Seiko Asia-Pacific will hold events that will demonstrate the brand’s technology. He explained, “Seiko has a fairly big following in Singapore and we have a huge potential to interact more with them, now with the formation of Grand Seiko Asia-Pacific and the upcoming Grand Seiko boutique.”