Grand Seiko: beautifully, precisely Japanese, inside and out.
Kintaro Hattori began selling and repairing clocks and watches in the Ginza area of Tokyo in 1881 and just 11 years later opened the Seikosha factory, manufacturing clocks and subsequently pocket watches.
By 1913 he had produced Japan’s first ever wristwatch, the Laurel and then by 1924 the first ‘Seiko’ branded watch. These foundations enabled the production of the first Grand Seiko in 1960, however, in a wonderfully ironic twist, production was pulled in 1975 because quartz had destroyed any demand for mechanical watches. Also a fully integrated watch manufacturer, with watchmaking centres dotted around Japan’s prefectures, for over half a century, Grand Seiko has quietly made, by hand, some of the most precise watches the world has ever known with some of the most poetically inspired dials, from the texture of birch bark, to the way snow settles on the mountains in Taisetsu, the 21st of Japan’s 24 ‘sekki’ or seasons. Some of the most well-loved Grand Seiko collections include its Spring Drive – mechanical watches with an electronic regulator, the Sport collection, and its Elegance collection. We have enjoyed a fruitful partnership with the brand and have collaborated on events such as the ‘The Nature of Time’ in 2020, based in Soho, New York. This immersive experience featured the largest collection of Grand Seiko timepieces in the world, as well as eight educational zones for guests to learn about the brand’s master craftsmanship, movements, and history. The collection also featured the Grand Seiko Toge, a piece that we partnered on, and that was launched exclusively with us in 2020. The Toge takes inspiration from the Japanese and British legacies of the two respective companies, combining classic British racing green with the fine texture of Grand Seiko’s signature Mount Iwate dial. The term 峠 (Tōgè), or ‘mountain pass’, refers to a navigable route through a mountain range, and this special edition timepiece subtly evokes the image of a spirited drive over the many ridges of Mount Iwate in Northern Japan. It is quite literally the embodiment of the Grand Seiko ethos.
We continue to honour our partnership with Grand Seiko by communicating and educating our clients about the brand through social media, newsletters and our Calibre platforms, both in print and online. At the watch fair Watches and Wonders we also included Grand Seiko’s UK Brand Manager, Rob Brook, in our series of interviews uploaded to our YouTube channels. The brand was also part of our ambitious and hugely successful multi-channel Watches of Switzerland US “Anytime. Anywhere.” campaign.
Grand Seiko and Watches of Switzerland Toge Special Edition
In 2020, we announced our first-ever collaboration with Grand Seiko on the new “Toge Special Edition”. This captivating new model takes inspiration from the Japanese and British legacies of the two respective companies, combining classic British Racing Green with the fine texture of Grand Seiko’s signature Mount Iwate dial. The term 峠 (Tōgè), or mountain pass, refers to a navigable route through a mountain range, and this special edition timepiece subtly evokes the image of a spirited drive over the many ridges of Mount Iwate in Northern Japan.
The timepiece launched virtually through an Augmented Reality (AR) experience for consumers to ‘try on’ the watch in the comfort of their homes through an Instagram filter. A first for Grand Seiko and the Watches of Switzerland Group, the AR component embodied the pioneering spirit of both brands and our shared desire to deliver an exceptional experience to consumers.
GRAND SEIKO MONO-BRAND BOUTIQUE
After the highly successful Nature of Time pop-up experience, Grand Seiko and Watches of Switzerland decided to take a major step forward by opening a stand-alone boutique. The SoHo location is the fullest representation of the Grand Seiko brand in downtown New York and features its Masterpiece, Elegance, Heritage, and Sports collections. Located at 154 Spring Street, the boutique serves to educate both local and international clients in the neighbourhood about the art of Grand Seiko and the uniqueness of Japanese watchmaking, while providing an elevated retail experience.
The Grand Seiko boutique’s exterior is framed by large glass panels with two display cases featuring the newest models from Grand Seiko’s collection of timepieces. Walking inside the boutique, visitors are greeted by an airy space that proudly displays the full range of the Grand Seiko collection, artfully merchandised to highlight the craftsmanship and quality of each watch. Adorning the walls are photographs of Grand Seiko timepieces, shot in detail to showcase their interplay with light and shadow and to reinforce how nature serves as the ultimate inspiration for its designs.
Making your way towards the back of the boutique, the space opens up into a lounge area -- with a large centre display case flanked by blue lounge chairs and a designated seating area. The backlit, whitewashed brick walls give a nod to the famous Snowflake dial, playing with depth and shadow. The space is intended to invite visitors and customers to learn more about the Grand Seiko brand, engage with its timepieces hands on, and fully experience the spirit of Takumi.