Last night Ape to Gentleman attended the launch of Seiko Watches’ new flagship boutique at 57 Brompton Road in London’s trendy Knightsbridge. The purpose of the store is to primarily sell watches but almost equally important- education. Seiko in my mind has always been a watch brand which represents value for money, reliability but not especially ‘cool’ when compared to some of the leading Swiss watch brands. Its new Knightsbridge store is fronted by these typical Seiko product lines but head to the back of the store and most likely, you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise. For this is where Seiko keeps its Grand Seiko collection- a luxe offering aimed at watch aficionados who aren’t swayed by brand ‘pull’ but more by insane levels of attention to detail, quality and purist timepieces.
Grand Seiko is pretty much unknown within the UK but as of opening its new boutique last night- the Japanese brand is unleashing its prized possession into the UK. Without getting into the intricacies of Grand Seiko watch manufacturing, the watches are technical masterpieces, all hand made, super-reliable and it has to be said- on the whole; stunning.
I’m a big fan of the Swiss watch brands; IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Vacheron Constantin to name but a few- all predictably superb in every respect but Grand Seiko have served up a curve ball for me. All of the aforementioned watch brands represent a certain ideal- again all good. Grand Seiko however, with perhaps not the strongest brand image, comparatively, represents strongly in its own unique niche. Grand Seiko is a brand which, crucially, you will feel an emotional attachment to- the basis of this is reliability, quality, story and of course looks but the differential is- an underground, underdog type of vibe. I can hear people asking, “what brand is that watch?” – drawn by its looks. Grand Seiko I’d answer. It doesn’t carry that Swiss kudos but the watch will feel great on the wrist, look superb and people will like it. This can easily be surmised as an emotional attachment for you, or an emotional connection for those who witness the watch aboard your wrist. And this is really all that matters. How does it make you, and importantly albeit less so, others feel.
Above: the first Grand Seiko, re-created in platinum
With the Grand Seiko SBGH019 headliner boasting a price tag of £25,000 and made in limited numbers, the brand is certainly gunning for the big time. The Grand Seiko collection starts at £2,250, representing serious value for money and a unique proposition for your wrist. Hats off to Seiko, our education is complete. Another fine watch brand of distinction to add to your want list.