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In conversation with Akio Naito, President of Grand Seiko.

Chaniya James 4 minutes
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Join us as we sit down with Akio Naito, President of Grand Seiko. We discuss his favourite memory at the brand so far, the journey of Grand Seiko and what the future holds for the brand.

Can you tell us a little more about the theme for Grand Seiko at Watches and Wonders this year?

Watches and Wonders 2024 for Grand Seiko is a showcase of the key elements of our brand - Takumi craftsmanship and design inspired by nature. The embodiment of this is within our new launches – the foremost being the first new mechanical high beat watch movement in almost 50 years within the ‘Birch Bark’ pieces.

With such a storied history, what key elements or values from the brand's past do you believe still resonate in today's watchmaking industry?

Grand Seiko’s brand philosophy is the ‘Nature of Time;’ there are two meanings to this. One is the essence of watchmaking - we are proud of our Takumi watchmakers, perfecting watchmaking for many years, constantly trying to come up with the best possible functional watch to measure the natural passing of time. The other meaning of ‘the nature of time’ is natural beauty; the beauty of the natural environment in Japan, which is expressed in our dial designs. Balancing both technical expertise and beautiful design - I hope appreciated by our consumers.

What has been your best memory of working at the brand so far and why?

Grand Seiko was born in 1960 but was not available outside Japan until 2010 and few people knew about it. In 2016 I was assigned to be in charge of the US market with a special mission to develop Grand Seiko. The following year, in 2017, we decided to boldly separate Grand Seiko as an independent brand from Seiko – before then, Grand Seiko watches used to feature the name Seiko on the dial. After the separation of the brands, we were able to quickly grow Grand Seiko outside of the Japanese domestic market. This is the memory which I recall vividly in the initial stages of my assignment in the US – the initial difficulty which was gradually overcome. Today I’m proud that the brand is globally much better known and understood.

How would you describe Grand Seiko in 2024?

When Grand Seiko was born in 1960, our aim was to make the best watch possible within the Seiko brand family. Our initial objectives were functional and around accurate timekeeping and precision. Over the years our watchmakers continue to refine their skills and today people are appreciative of the emotional as well as the functional values of our watches – which is represented in our latest collection.

How do you envision the future for Grand Seiko?

In the last seven years Grand Seiko has developed globally. in 2018, we established Grand Seiko America as a dedicated company. In 2020 in Paris we established Grand Seiko Europe, this year we are going to open a new subsidiary: Grand Seiko Shanghai, and we will have covered all major world markets. Utilising these networks, I look forward to seeing Grand Seiko in all major cities of the world.

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