Seiko has been the official timekeeper for the IAAF for 32 years, and this year the IAAF World Championships were held in London, with Seiko prominently displaying everywhere around the stadium. Seiko timed every event, with a large crew of timekeeping engineers and workers from both Japan and the host UK.

The 2017 World Championships were a sight to behold, with Usain Bolt finishing a shocking third in the 100 meters and pulling up with an injury in what he said was to be the final race of his career (the 4×100 relay), Seiko ambassador Darya Klishina winning an unexpected, but deserved, silver medal in the long jump, a Botswana sprinter running his own race in the 200-meter qualifying and a host of other truly remarkable performances.

Darya Klishina

Seiko’s effort as the official timekeeper is not a profit center for the company, but rather a huge expense. (Seiko shared with Revolution that one of the big LCD displays — and there were eight of them in the stadium — cost about $500,000) So, why does the company participate?

“There are two important reasons for Seiko,” says President, COO and CMO of Seiko Watch Corporation Shuji Takahashi. “The first reason is that playing the role of official timer, Seiko can exhibit our precision quality to the world. By doing this we can emphasize the close affinity between Seiko and sport and we can enhance our sports watches. Another reason is social contribution. Sport provides emotion and courage to all sorts of people, so by supporting sports we can pay back to society some of what we have received from society.”

Opening the London Boutique

Seiko took advantage of the timing (pun intended) to open its first-ever boutique in the UK, at 57 Brompton Road in Knightsbridge, London. Takahashi attended the boutique opening and, instead of cutting a ribbon, smashed open a box of sake with a hammer, along with other Seiko personnel, the Japanese ambassador to the UK and celebrity Jonathan Ross (who is a Grand Seiko wearer and a Japanophile).

Seiko Boutique United Kingdom
(Left to right) Mr. Shuji Takahashi, Mr. Tsuruoka; and the brand's ambassador Jonathan Ross

The boutique will showcase all that Seiko has to offer, including the Astron GPS Solar, Presage, Prospex and Premier collections as well as, for the first time ever in the UK, the full international collection of Grand Seiko. Also on temporary display were three Credor pieces (the minute repeater, the tourbillon and the Eichi-II).

Seiko Astron
Grand Seiko
Grand Seiko

“The UK market is the largest European market for Seiko, and we established our first locally incorporated company in Europe in 1971, so Seiko has a long history in the UK and has been loved by many Seiko fans,” details Seiko’s Takahashi. “We consider our boutiques not only the place to showcase our products but also to communicate our history, philosophy, competence and background to the world. We believe that through this boutique, we will be able to make people understand our capacity for manufacturing watches and our world view and we will be able to enhance Seiko and Grand Seiko’s position in the market.

“Seiko considers our independent retail partners to be extremely important to us,” Takahashi continues. “We regard boutiques as a center of communication of our history and our world view. At the present moment, the brand awareness of Grand Seiko and our four Seiko product brands is still not sufficient, so by setting up boutiques we want to increase the brand awareness of the world customers.”

President & COO & CMO of Seiko – Mr. Shuji Takahashi

Having been to Japan two times to visit the Seiko facilities there, I can confirm that there is a great story to communicate concerning Seiko – they are one of the only companies in the entire watch industry that is 100% verticalized – and this new London boutique will certainly help tell that story.

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(Seiko) Sake Barrel Ceremony
Japan traditional Sake Barrel Ceremony "Kagami Biraki" (鏡開き)