We Want To Build Grand Seiko Into The World’s Top Watch
In 1960, Seiko’s independent brand GS (Grand Seiko Blue Lion) came out quietly. From the beginning of the development of Grand Seiko to today, the concept of making ‘ideal’ watches has always been the persistence and motivation of Grand Seiko. In terms of accuracy, durability and appearance, we must lead the world. On June 17, 2019, Watch House had the honor to interview Mr. Yoshimura, Chairman and General Manager of Seiko Watch China. As a “China Connect” who has worked and lived in China for more than 20 years, Mr. Yoshimura et al. Knows the development and changes of the Chinese market. On the same day, this visionary and insightful manager revealed to us the Grand Seiko’s major moves in the Chinese market in the next few years.
Mr. Yoshimura, Chairman and General Manager of Seiko China
Watch House: We know that Seiko has more than 100 years of history and cultural accumulation. More consumers are more familiar with Seiko than GS (Grand Seiko). Why did Seiko separate GS into a new brand? What are the reasons for this?
Mr. Yoshimura and others: Yes, Seiko has a history of more than 100 years and is committed to making the most practical watches. Everyone knows that Seiko’s quartz watches are very powerful and affordable. But this does not mean that Seiko only produces mid-to-low-end watches. Grand Seiko was born, on the one hand, because foreign clocks began to flood into Japan at that time, which caused a huge impact on Japan’s local clock industry. As a representative of Japanese watch brands, Seiko naturally needs to take the lead in occupying the Japanese domestic market. On the other hand, Grand Seiko’s brand positioning is a high-end watch brand. Our goal is to make Grand Seiko the world’s best watch. For 100 years, 200 years, we will always strive for this goal. .
Watch House: In October last year, Seiko held the grand opening ceremony of the ‘Grand Seiko Blue Lion GS9 CLUB China Club’ in Beijing. What does the membership system and membership club mean for Grand Seiko Blue Lion?
Mr. Yoshimura and others: We take Chinese consumers very seriously. In Japan, the membership requirements for GS9 CLUB are: Grand Seiko and live in Japan. But many Chinese consumers returned to China after buying Grand Seiko in Japan, and they could not enjoy the same after-sales service as Japanese consumers. Therefore, we set up the GS9 CLUB China Club in China, so that Chinese consumers can enjoy the same services. The entry requirements for GS9 CLUB China Club are: You must have Grand Seiko and live in China. No matter your nationality, you can enjoy this service as long as you live in China.
Watch House: There is a very famous concept in Seiko’s corporate culture-‘Always ahead of the times’. How did Grand Seiko implement this concept when expanding into the Chinese market?
Mr. Yoshimura and others: It is mainly divided into two aspects, the first is production. We have to make products that are ahead of the times. In addition to mechanical watches and quartz watches, Grand Seiko models also use a Spring Drive movement. This movement took more than 20 years to research and develop, and only Seiko can produce it. It increases the kinetic energy through mechanical winding and uses a quartz crystal, which not only avoids the problem of battery replacement, but also achieves high accuracy. In terms of sales, we will consider from the standpoint of a consumer who owns Grand Seiko, and the price, service and after-sales will all be the same price as in China and Japan. We do not sell to dealers to keep prices under control. In China, there is a watchmaker who specializes in repairing Grand Seiko high-end watches to ensure consumer after-sales service.
Watch House: It is a great advantage for Seiko to constantly enter major e-commerce companies and cover consumers through all channels. But at the same time, online e-commerce is weaker than physical stores in terms of ‘after-sales’. How is the brand perfect in this respect?
Mr. Yoshimura and others: Our after-sales service is independent of online and offline. Whether it is Seiko or Grand Seiko, we have special repair stations. Not only that, our repair station can be searched on the ‘Popular Review Network’, each consumer can perform service evaluation on the ‘Popular Review Network’, and we will evaluate and evaluate based on the evaluation of ‘Popular Review Network’ The top three watchmakers with good reviews will be invited to Japan to communicate with maintenance engineers at Seiko headquarters. We just want to be completely transparent and face consumers bravely, because ordinary people are the bosses.
Watch House: We all know that you are a ‘China Connect’. You have lived and worked in China for more than 20 years. Will Chinese and Japanese watch consumers differ? How do brands respond to different consumption environments and consumption habits?
Mr. Yoshimura and others: In fact, there is not much difference between Chinese and Japanese consumers. What makes China more advanced than Japan is that few people in China now pay in cash, and their usual focus is more on online platforms. This is what we need to pay attention to and value. The Chinese market is changing very fast, so I will distinguish it from the sales philosophy of the Japanese headquarters and adjust to the changes in the Chinese market.
Watch House: If it is not as the chairman of Seiko China, but as an ordinary consumer, what does a watch mean to you?
Mr. Yoshimura and others: Watches are not only a decoration but also a companion for men. People who like watches will constantly buy and buy watches of various styles. This is also true of me. I will decide which watch I wear today based on the events and occasions I participate in, and I will also replace my watch with a different material strap according to the change of season. I find these very interesting.
Watch House: Do you have any expectations for the development of Grand Seiko in China? Have you set any ‘small goals’ in the near future?
Mr. Yoshimura and others: We are currently promoting Grand Seiko. This year’s GS9 CLUB China Club event will be held shortly. At that time, table friends with Grand Seiko will be invited to play together. In September we will announce the Asian spokesperson for Grand Seiko, a well-known Japanese star. The action next year is also very big. 2020 is not only the Tokyo Olympics, but also the 60th anniversary of Grand Seiko. We will launch some new movements, more accurate and advanced. Not only that, Grand Seiko’s Chinese limited edition watches will also be launched. Only China can buy them, which is very worth looking forward to.
Summary: Seiko always pays attention to independent research and development. For brand development, quality and integrity are higher than profit. Whether it is a Seiko watch or a Grand Seiko, they use a simple and elegant appearance design to show charming Japanese taste, and have an unshakable position in the watch industry through advanced and exquisite watchmaking technology. We believe that with its watchmaking attitude of continuous improvement and innovation, Grand Seiko will usher in a more brilliant future in a brand new era.