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Seiko - Grand Seiko flies the nest

Seiko Grand Seiko flies the nest

For a long time, the Grand Seiko’s status was rather difficult to define. Is it a collection, a family, a brand, or a sub-brand of Seiko? Well, the matter has finally been cleared up.

It wasn’t until the 2000s that Grand Seiko watches became available outside their native country for the first time. The Japanese giant, well known for its analogue quartz and affordable mechanical watches, finally revealed its high-end mechanical watch brand, which was born back in 1960, to the rest of the world. We were introduced to models equipped with the Spring Drive, a high-precision electromechanical movement. However, a close inspection revealed that Grand Seiko was not actually a brand. At 12 o’clock, on the dials of all the watches, the first logo you saw was that of Seiko. The legend “Grand Seiko” appeared underneath, at 6 o’clock, along with the extensive list of additional descriptors that each model required. This has always been somewhat ambiguous: the name “Grand Seiko” incorporates the name of the entire group, suggesting that Seiko itself is actually “Small Seiko” or “Normal Seiko”. In any case, not Grand. And that is why there has always been a temptation to place it at the top of the hierarchy.

Grand Seiko flies the nest

A 2015 Grand Seiko Hi-Beat; the name Grand Seiko is relegated to a secondary position on the dial © David Chokron/Worldtemps

Until 2017, that is. Since this year’s Baselworld, Grand Seiko has taken centre stage; it’s in the driving seat, it’s its own boss. Grand Seiko has grown up, and is confidently flying solo. The group has adopted a clearer and more intuitive branding strategy that gives pride of place to those products that are exceptional in quality, while still offering exceptional value for money. In Japan, the Seiko group owns some twelve brands, very few of which have been allowed nominal independence. Astron, Prospex, Galante, Premier and others operate under the banner of the parent company. Top-of-the-range Credor has until now been the only one allowed to use its own name, without any mention of the group. It’s time for these prestigious watches, which are increasingly destined for export, to differentiate themselves from the parent brand. Seiko, in fact, moves in different and generally inferior circles, in terms of price, precision and finishing. It’s not easy for parents to watch their offspring fly the nest. But when they have talent, they deserve the right to forge their own path, even if they retain a version of the family name.

Grand Seiko flies the nest

Grand Seiko - Hi Beat Professional Diver, modèle de 2017, the name Grand Seiko appears alone

 

 

 

 

The brand

The history of Seiko is a more than 130 year story of innovation. From the very start, Kintaro Hattori was determined to be at the forefront of the industry and his oft-repeated credo was that Seiko should be “Always one step ahead of the rest.”

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