Grand Seiko's Rare Watches Are Now Available at Its New Online Shop in the Philippines
ILLUSTRATOR Warren Espejo
Despite a most cursed year, Grand Seiko has made the best of its 60th anniversary. The Japanese luxury watch brand nixed a splashy celebration in Tokyo early in 2020, opting for a digital tour and the continued release of several limited edition watches around the world, including the Philippines. It also opened its first boutique in Europe, in the glitzy Place Vendôme in Paris (also the largest Grand Seiko boutique in the world), in June, as well as the Seiko Premium Boutique in Ayala Malls Manila Bay for local fans. Now, it ends the year on a high note with a fresh batch of timepieces and, more pertinent to the times, an online shop where you can get your fill of all things Grand Seiko from the safety of your home.
Grand Seiko SBGR321
The online hub, which launched this week, is a confirmation of the label’s adaptable spirit. For companies, the current measure of success is how brave they dare to be, how fast they can wiggle out of a conundrum, and how ready they are to jump into the murky waters of the world wide web, where business now lives. Beaming in from Japan for the Grand Seiko virtual presentation, Yoshikatsu Kawada, director and senior vice president of the Seiko Watch Corporation, confirms how the company needed to completely change how it works.
“Digital communication is key,” affirms the director, who also remarks, at the end of the virtual session, how he doesn’t feel the distance between Manila and Tokyo. The more specific barometer for success then becomes how good—how very smooth—is a company’s e-commerce experience. Kawada describes the shopping website of Grand Seiko Philippines as more than a touch-free way to get its goods into your hands, noting how the portal provides consumers with the similar experience of a physical store. To start, a concierge service is available for any of your inquiries about recommendations, specifications, delivery arrangements (it's via LBC, by the way), and more.
The Grand Seiko Philippines Online Shop
We also did a little poking around. Much like a hallmark of a Grand Seiko watch—how it has unparalleled legibility—the website is easy to navigate. In short, it’s quite simple to get what you want.
Maybe you are shopping for… yourself. And would like to please get the SBGA407 (all models are straightforwardly named), the one with the delicate blue Snowflake dial. You pop into the Elegance Collection (there are only three so you won’t get lost) and click on it (it’s the first entry). And then find it is woefully out of stock.
Grand Seiko SBGJ241
Undeterred, you can navigate to other available options like, say, the SBGJ241 (in the Heritage Collection), the one colored with the emerald green of a Japanese forest. Kawada describes the color as youthful and its banded effect as similar to “the way colors reflect on the wooden floor of a traditional Japanese house.” You can then add this watch to your virtual cart, submit your details, and proceed to check out.
Here is where it gets interesting: Payments are deposited in one of three bank accounts and then you e-mail your deposit slip to Grand Seiko. A warning: If you dilly-dally with completing the order (paying!), it will be canceled after three banking days.
Another thoughtful idea: Grand Seiko lists all its prices on the website, so you can forecast the degree of consternation your wife will experience because of a purchase (chances are, it will be low as the watchmaker has more reasonable prices for its premium watches).
The Best Grand Seiko Watches to Get Right Now
What should you get? Consider the latest and upcoming Grand Seiko 60th anniversary limited edition releases. The SLGH003 from the Heritage Collection catches the eye because of its blue dial and red seconds hand. For tech-heads, the watch is also powered by the new 9SA5 Hi-Beat caliber, which is touted as “the finest mechanical caliber Grand Seiko has ever created.”
Grand Seiko SLGH003
Elsewhere, the SLGA001 from the Sport Collection is a professional diver’s watch (dark blue dial) that can withstand depths of up to 600 meters, while the SBGR321 from the Heritage Collection (vivid blue dial) has a power reserve of 72 hours and a precision rate of +5 to -3 seconds a day.
The deliciously green SBGJ241 (mentioned above) is also a fine example of Grand Seiko’s novel polishing method, the Zaratsu technique, which produces an extraordinarily smooth and distortion-free finish. Apart from the SLGA001, which is arriving soon and now available for pre-order, the rest of the watches are already here for you to enjoy.
Grand Seiko 9SA5 Hi-Beat Caliber
According to the watchmaker, all of its 60th-anniversary watches are inspired by the morning view of Mount Iwate, the blue of the sky and tinges of red from the rising sun, to be exact. The case back also features a limited edition label with a serial number and the signature lion emblem of Grand Seiko.
Why Grand Seiko Appeals to Collectors
The Japanese watchmaker continues to enjoy immense popularity in the Philippines. Kawada attributes Grand Seiko’s success partly to its state of emergence in the international market with more people now recognizing the premium watch brand—a fact that has helped its sales amid the pandemic.
Grand Seiko SLGA001
For Karl Dy, president and CEO of Timeplus, the distributor of Seiko in the country, the brand has also become a symbol for people who value the technical characteristics of well-built watches. “Because of this appreciation, it brings out the personality of the person,” he says. “It gives you an opportunity to express yourself.” With a Grand Seiko strapped to your wrist, you declare that you know good value and very good watches. And that ability to say who you are through your choice of ticker is another reason why it is popular.