Japanese watch brand Grand Seiko recently celebrated its 60th anniversary in the Philippines at the Lexus Manila Showroom in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. The event, which highlighted the launch of the original Grand Seiko timepiece in Japan, also gave Filipino fans the chance to view the brand’s other popular timepieces.
“The Nature of Time: The Grand Seiko Master Craftsman Event” featured an immersive tour of the history of the storied brand through an interactive tableau, complete with video presentations, company and product timelines, and product displays. Grand Seiko is not very well known in the country, but has a very devoted following in the world of collectible timepieces, said Edric Dy, vice president and senior digital marketing officer of Timeplus Corp., which carries the brand here in the islands. “Grand Seiko has only been here for a few years, and the public exposure has not yet been that big,” says Dy. “Grand Seiko has only recently expanded their market globally. For decades, it was really only available in Japan. But for the collectors and real watch aficionados, Grand Seiko watches are much sought-after.”
We marveled at the watches on display, and were surprised at how much one costs. Most Filipinos, and those new to the world of upscale timepieces, associate the name Seiko with simple and functional watches, but the Grand Seiko pieces are on a whole different level.
The most basic Grand Seiko watch costs hundreds of thousands of pesos, with some units even reaching the one million peso price point. The watches on display were undoubtedly beautiful—the design aesthetic of the Grand Seiko collection is simple, understated elegance—with cues taken from storied watches such as Patek Philippe and Rolex. Particularly beautiful, and representative of the Grand Seiko aesthetic, is the Grand Seiko Spring Drive “Snowflake Blue” dial model. It has a simple silver bezel, dark blue leather straps, a pale white watch face, and visible dials and hands.
“The precision of the timepiece, the exact and precise way of assembling it, and the premium materials used justify the price,” said Dy. “That is what sets Grand Seiko apart from other brands. Grand Seiko watches have long been the holy grail of watches for many horologists because of the combination of understated elegance and functionality that espouse the uniquely Japanese aesthetics in details.”
The highlight of the Grand Seiko event was an exclusive demonstration by Takuya Nishinaka, a watch “craftsman” flown in from Japan. Nishinaka is part of the elite group of artisans in Grand Seiko, tasked to hand-assemble each of the coveted timepieces. At the event, the craftsman assembled in front of a live audience a Grand Seiko Snowflake, one of the most sought-after timepieces in the brand’s lineup.
Nishinaka worked his magic, and used tiny instruments to assemble the minute pieces in the watch.
A macro camera set up beside the hunched craftsman projected close ups of the artisan working on the timepiece. Nishinaka moved each cog and dial with precision, and within 10 minutes, his work was done.
Guests were invited to try and beat Nishinaka’s record, but none were as deft and precise as the artisan. He has, after all, won several awards for his workmanship, including a gold from the Japan Technical Skills Olympics. Nishinaka heads the training program for the new, up-and-coming craftsmen of Grand Seiko.
Karl Dy, president of Timeplus Corp., noted how the watch collector community has grown in the Philippines, “with many enthusiasts going for luxury brands that have a long, proud heritage such as the Grand Seiko.
“We are proud to bring the Grand Seiko concept store to the country, especially with the expertise that has been shared with us by craftsman Nishinaka, to demonstrate the technology that goes inside each timepiece,” he added. “Aside from the Snowflake, we are planning to bring in more styles in the future for our collections from the proud 60-year history of the brand.”