WatchTime Q&A: Seiko Watch CEO Shinji Hattori on Seiko’s First U.S. Boutique

Seiko CEO Shinji HattoriSeiko Corporation of America has opened a boutique at 510 Madison Avenue in New York between 52nd and 53rd Street. The official opening was August 19. Seiko has many boutiques in Asia but this is its first one in the United States. On hand for the occasion was Shinji Hattori, CEO of Seiko Watch Corp. and chairman of its parent company, Seiko Holdings Corp., who is the great-great-grandson of Seiko founder, Kintaro Hattori.

Shinji Hattori led a delegation of Seiko executives from Japan for the official opening of the boutique and a celebration party at 620 Loft & Garden in New York. A special guest of honor at the party was Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic, who is a Seiko ambassador.

Earlier that day, I met with Hattori in New York to discuss the boutique. The following is an excerpt from the interview.

WT: Why is Seiko opening a boutique in the United States?
SH: Seiko has been seeking the most ideal time and location to spotlight our products that cater to the affordable luxury timepieces category, including Grand Seiko and Astron. Opening our own boutique in a market such as New York City does just that for Seiko. The timing is perfect because the U.S. market has stabilized and the U.S. consumer is more interested than ever in the affordable lifestyle segment of timepieces. We are communicating the elements that make Seiko unique to the market, including our rich heritage and our being the only watch manufacturer with every watchmaking technology.

Seiko Watch CEO Shinji Hattori
Seiko Watch CEO Shinji Hattori

WT: What will this boutique opening mean for the future of the Seiko brand in the United States?
SH: I have personally encouraged the introduction of Grand Seiko, Astron and Solar collections, among others, to the U.S. market, as I am passionate about continuing to expand Seiko’s presence. We will show the essence of the Seiko brand and tell the untold story of Seiko by showing our premium collections such as Astron and Grand Seiko. By doing this we can increase our brand value and help our distribution.

WT: Will there be other Seiko group brands in the stores?
SH: For now the focus will be on Grand Seiko and Astron and the high complications of Seiko. We are also showing the Prospex collection, our sports collection. In the far future, we’d like to sell Seiko Credor and Galante watches.

WT: What is Seiko’s attitude toward discounting in the boutique?
SH: Seiko’s primary objective with the boutique is to tell our story. Therefore we will not discount products in the Seiko boutique.

Seiko Boutique - Interior
Seiko’s flagship boutique in New York

WT: Does Seiko plan to open more boutiques in the United States?
SH: This is the start. New York is just the beginning of our U.S. boutique strategy. We are evaluating our possibilities. We are reviewing markets in the U.S. to determine our best fit.

WT: Is there are particular target customer that you hope to attract to the boutique?
SH: The target is consumers who are passionate about affordable luxury timepieces offering superior design, quality and innovative technology. Seiko’s brand recognition is already widespread and people consider Seiko as a very reliable and trusted brand. However, U.S. consumers do not know the full story of Seiko’s history, heritage, craftsmanship and expertise. We would like them to understand Seiko’s story through the boutique.

WT: How many boutiques does Seiko have globally?
SH: We have now more than 50 Seiko boutiques around the world. The first one was opened in Paris in 2004.

Novak Djokovic with Seiko CEO Shinji Hattori
Novak Djokovic (left) with Hattori at the boutique-opening event
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