Sydney’s First Grand Seiko Event (Kind Of) – My Brief Thoughts
Not since the launch of the very first Australian Seiko Boutique in Sydney (2016), has there been another event held for Australian Grand Seiko fans. Yes, I am aware that there have been other events in other states (e.g. Time and Tide at Kisumé in 2018), but my argument here is that if you compare what the brand’s international counterparts are doing in terms of marketing and targeting consumers, frankly it is quite embarrassing. Grand Seiko USA (@grandseikousa) have been the champions of the brand since its departure from Seiko and have been throwing cocktail parties left right and centre. No, I’m not saying that they need to entice customers through free booze (although I’d personally welcome that idea), what I’m saying is that they should increase their efforts to understand their loyal fan base and reach out to new customers. I guess you could say that they need to hustle harder. Take the case for Grand Seiko USA, what did these events do for the brand? It created a snowball effect by getting watch lovers talking. By marrying Japanese culture (whom most of us adore) with horology, those lucky enough to attend were sure to fall in love with the brand and maybe, that was the tipping point to get good old Johnny boy to drop his credit card on that new Spring Drive.
So a couple of days ago, I was fortunate to be invited to a small get together at the Sydney boutique. I must admit, another reason why I love visiting the store is because I adore the building it is nestled in. The Queen Victoria Building (QVB), originally built in 1898, is sure to excite architectural nerds out there with fetishes for stained windows and 19th century stairs. The purpose of the event was to showcase to Australian collectors for the first time, the models released at this year’s Baselworld. The lineup included the SBGA407, SBGY002, SBGY003, SBGZ003, SBGC231, SBGA403 and of course, the drop-dead gorgeous platinum SBGZ001. This allowed potential buyers to try these watches on their wrists to get a sense of how they would look and feel. However, on a more slightly disappointing note, these were dummy watches without movements but of course, that is understandable. So, what’s the verdict? At first, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the new case designs. But on the wrist, gosh they were beautiful and so comfortable. And man are they thin! These are true dress watches and even though they are sized at 39 mm, the curved lugs cleverly provide an illusion to the wearer that they are wearing a smaller watch. So, my advice to you, is that just like any other Grand Seiko, see it in person and try it on your own wrist before making a judgement (or purchase online).
What did the event mean? My interpretation was that this was a clear “flex” by Grand Seiko Australia, that they were ready to start reaching out to its consumer base and fill the gap that I was addressing earlier. From what I understand, there have been some shifts at the executive level and they now have a new strategic manager (who is a top bloke by the way). I believe that he and a few others spearheaded the idea of organising a small event and I must say, it was quite successful as a stepping stone to greater things. Grand Seiko in Australia is still a niche market, but I believe that with an increase in marketing both physically and online, it could help drive the brand into the direction that they are trying to go. As mentioned previously, Grand Seiko Australia only needs to look towards their US counterpart to realise that what they are doing there, is what needs to happen right here at home. I am looking forward to future prospects and do hope that they increase their presence for Australian watch collectors.