Fine Japanese cuisine and even finer Japanese watches highlighted a collectors’ dinner hosted by Seiko Corporation of America and WatchTime.
On Dec. 1, at Miami’s celebrated Zuma Japanese restaurant, Seiko Corporation of America offered an intimate experience with its Grand Seiko collection to 30 watch collectors invited by WatchTime. The guests were welcomed by Akio Naito, who is chairman of SCA and a director of Seiko Watch Corp. in Tokyo.
Grand Seiko is Seiko’s top-of-the line collection of mechanical, quartz analog and Spring Drive watches. Originally created in 1960 exclusively for the Japanese market, Grand Seiko’s have achieved cult status among watch aficionados. The collection only became available internationally in 2010.
Grand Seiko watches were available for guests to handle and wear, including the new limited-production Grand Seiko 8 Days watch (20 per year) with a platinum case and diamond-dust dial that sells for $55,000.
The evening began with two presentations, one by long-time WatchTime editor-in-chief Joe Thompson, now the magazine’s editor-at-large, and one by Joe Kirk, manager of Seiko’s Miami boutique.
Thompson noted that he has been on “the Seiko beat” ever since his first visit to Seiko in Tokyo in 1981. Grand Seiko, he said, “represents a side of Seiko that most people don’t know.” He discussed five things about Seiko and Grand Seiko that watch aficionados might find surprising. They are:
- That Swiss watch executives privately express admiration for Grand Seiko mechanicals. One told him, “Seiko makes the best mechanical watch in the world. I hate to say it but it’s true.”
- That Seiko has a long history making mechanical watches. It began producing pocketwatches in 1895 and wristwatches in 1913.
- That, like Swiss producers, Seiko had a mechanical watch revival in the 1990s. Seiko had stopped making Grand Seiko mechanical watches in 1975, but brought them back in 1998.
- That the Seiko Group is giant diversified manufacturer with annual revenues bigger than the Swatch Group and the Richemont Group.
- That, while Seiko produces millions of watches, its annual production of Grand Seikos, is extremely small, numbering in the low thousands.
Joe Kirk’s presentation focused on the Grand Seiko Spring Drive 8 Days watch, with a video showing fine details of the watch and its movement.What followed was a feast, with numerous courses of Japanese specialties prepared by chef Rainer Becker and his team.
Becker is celebrated for preparing Japanese food in a modern manner inspired by an informal Japanese dining style called izakaya. The great cuisine, camaraderie and watch chat lasted for hours.