Grand Seiko, although of great repute among longtime watch lovers, has been mostly elusive for collectors outside Japan. Produced since the latter half of the last century, it differentiated itself from other Seiko watches as timepieces that belong to the top tier of the selection. The year it finally tapped into its international market was not too long ago—it has just been eight years since. But this 2018, the Japanese watchmaker makes the move of establishing something tangible in the United States, and having it run independent of its Japanese counterpart. This is a step as equally momentous as last year’s announcement that Grand Seiko will be a separate brand.
The company, which makes history as the first independent Grand Seiko, will be officially called Grand Seiko Corp. of America (GSA). This is seen as a logical step especially considering how the brand became among the best performing watchmakers in the United States in terms of sales. It is high time to capitalize on that even further, and Seiko CEO Shinji Hattori said that this will be a means to elevate the profile of Seiko outside Japan. Brice Le Troadec will be its president, previously making his mark as the head of Omega in the United States. The executive was brought in by Akio Naito, GSA’s Chairman and CEO.
GSA will be in charge of marketing, sales and distribution of the Grand Seiko watches, with prices that begin at US$2,200 and more or less reach the peak at US$60,000. It will also sell premium Seiko collections such as the Presage series and the Prospex collection, the Japanese brand’s mechanical and sports watches, respectively. Seiko has had presence is the US since 1970s through its Seiko Corp. of America, which will now be renamed to Seiko Watch of America (SWA). SWA will still be marketing the brand’s quartz watches, while providing logistical support to GWA and other related companies. Currently, there are Seiko and Grand Seiko boutiques in California, New York and Florida, which will continue to sell the Japanese timepieces.
Exclusive collection for the US market
There are more announcements to make by November according to the company, but there is exciting news as early as now: Grand Seiko has released its very first watches to be sold solely in the United States.
The collection is inspired by the Kira-zuri, which is a Japanese technique that makes paint sparkle, hence the glitzy dials of the three watches in the new collection. This is meant to give more depth and character through light, just as much as the mentioned technique did for Kabuki theater. The timepieces have been put together in Japan with the same thoroughness applied on Japanese offerings, and through the hands of the company’s expert craftsmen and women. The three employ the Spring Drive, but that’s not the only thing that makes the collection special; the company’s so-called Tri-Synchro Regulator that uses mechanical, electromagnetic, and electric energy will ensure precision that is unparalleled among existing mechanical watches.
The trio is made up of platinum, rose gold and stainless steel versions, all of which are limited pieces. These are available for purchase this month through American Grand Seiko boutiques and select retailers. Releasing an exclusive collection for the US market was seen as important in highlighting the significance of the region to the company, and further establishing the Grand Seiko brand and ensuring its growth in the future.
Image credits: Hodinkee, Grand Seiko, Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg