Interview with Yoshikatsu Kawada, Director and Senior Vice President of Grand Seiko

“Our winning the men’s category prize for Grand Seiko means our unique technology in making mechanical watches are recognized by our friends in Switzerland”. Excerpts from the Interview with Yoshikatsu Kawada, Director and Senior Vice President of Grand Seiko.

AWJ at Watches & Wonders Geneva

What does Grand Seiko bring to the Watches & Wonders 2022?

We are much honored to be here as an Asian brand. It’s the first time for Asian a non-Swiss brand to be presented here in the luxury brand class. You’ve heard of the new development about the Kodo - it’s a mechanical complication watch. We are more focused on the high luxury segment, with a totally different high jewellery watch characteristic of the white lion. It is a very complicated technological piece combining a constant-force and a tourbillon as one unit on a single axis. We have worked very hard to develop two particular masterpiece to be presented here at Watches & Wonders. 

How do you define the luxury Grand Seiko code? Also how do you define the luxury of fine watchmaking in terms of philosophy and approach?

Like many other companies with a long history, our company was established in 1881, founded by Kintaro Hattori who is the great grandfather of the current CEO. It is unique to have such imagination by generations of the family. We have instilled the founder’s motto and philosophy which is accuracy, legibility, beauty and durability in our brand vision. I can show you - I know you are familiar with Kintaro Hattori – this is what he was saying about evolution always being the advance step over the rest. Quality and worthiness always get the customer’s patronage. We developed the Grand Seiko in 1960 and we put this belief in our ultimate product. To answer part of your question as to how we define luxury in Grand Seiko… we are unique not only in producing a superb product but our Japanese origin is unique and we are 100% integrated as a manufacturer. We put the Japanese touch and the ethos of how we consider time in Japan – all these spiritual things we put into the product. 

You mentioned the code of constant force-tourbillon which is a piece of art and ultrafine watchmaking. Is this statement an ongoing development?

During the Watches & Wonders show I have presented the development of Grand Seiko in this area. So, in Tokyo in Wako Department, a landmark in the center of Ginza, we will develop a new studio, the Atelier Ginza.  The Kodo was designed by an elite group of watchmakers and designers at the studio.  

In 2014, Grand Seiko won the Hi-Beat award followed by last year’s Grand Seiko “evolution” at 2021 at the GPHG Geneva. What does this mean to Seiko as a player among all the big Swiss watchmakers?

We are honored that we are the winner of the men’s category prize for our product. It means our unique technology in making mechanical watches are recognized by our friends in Switzerland and so we are all the more proud of having this award for Grand Seiko.

Very few watch brands claim to have a dedicated watch “club”  and Grand Seiko has a its own “club”. Also the brand has its own boutiques around the world. How do you support this Grand Seiko club and how do you communicate about it? Do you have a division and people that look after these collectors? 

Very good question indeed. In Japan we have the GS9 club open to all Japanese customers. Why 9? All calibers used by Grand Seiko start with 9, 9S for the mechanicals series and 9R for the spring drive.  So 9 is the symbolic number for Grand Seiko. That is why the club is named GS9. It was only available in Japan, however from last year, we decided to bring this GS9 club to the international market. For the Middle East market, we are about to launch GS9 later this year. Country wise, for example, we started last year in US, in Europe we are going to introduce it from this year depending on the country. This is a kind of syndicate for the Grand Seiko loyal customers to get to know what is going on with the brand. As part of the benefits of being a GS9 club member, maybe we will invite them to visit our factory, once the pandemic situation is over.

That brings us to the Middle East, what are your plans for the Middle East in terms of Grand Seiko boutique?

The key market for the Middle East is of course Dubai. One of our dreams is to make the Grand Seiko boutique in Dubai a reality in the coming years. We are seriously working on this.