Seiko is scouting London for the ideal location for a monobrand boutique, which is described as the company’s top European priority.
Shinji Hattori, chairman and chief executive officer of Seiko Holdings Corporation, spoke to WatchPro editor James Buttery at the company-owned Wako department store in Tokyo’s luxury shopping district, Ginza, on Friday.
“I lived in London in the early 1990s and I love London very much,” he said. “It is a shame we do not yet have a Seiko boutique in my favourite town. Our aim is to have a network of Seiko boutiques in many major cities and London is obviously a leading candidate.
“We have been actively looking for the right location for quite some time and we hope to have a boutique open in the near future. We are looking at locations in The City, in the Regent Street area and around Sloane Square.”
Robert Wilson, Seiko UK’s marketing director, described the search for a London location as the global company’s ‘top’ European retail priority.
While the brand’s luxury mechanical, hybrid Spring Drive and quartz Grand Seiko watches are widely understood and accepted by domestic customers, the company has struggled to persuade international markets to buy into its luxury collections at higher price points, although the recent success of its Astron GPS watches has begun to change that to a certain degree.
To address the issue Seiko has opted to open a network of its own boutiques in key markets to spread the word itself. While it has long operated a boutique in Paris, it has recently opened locations in Frankfurt, Moscow and Madrid.
Seiko is seeking to address the various differences in horological perspective that exist in its international markets. For instance, while the brand sees its electro-mechanical Spring Drive movement – which is powered by a mainspring, but regulated using quartz and an electromagnet, as the pinnacle of its achievements – European customers have so far opted mainly for mechanical Grand Seiko watches.
European customers also largely shun Grand Seiko’s quartz options based around its refined, elegant 9F movement, while Japanese customers buy versions with precious metal cases and bracelets. During a visit to Seiko’s recently opened premium brands boutique in Ginza – which carries Grand Seiko, Credor and Galante – WatchPro viewed a white gold quartz Grand Seiko costing the equivalent on nearly £18,000. Grand Seiko’s precious metal models are only available domestically.
Seiko will also be exhibiting at SalonQP in November.