Grand Seiko has put together a dazzling agenda for its 60th anniversary, marked by the opening of new manufacturing facilities, the inauguration of a flagship boutique on Place Vendôme, a dozen limited editions fitted with new calibres, and the unveiling of a concept movement.
Articles on the subject:
The Japanese market, with its codes, rituals and demands, remains a case apart in Asia. A booming economy until the 1990s, it is now returning to the spotlight, particularly where luxury is concerned. For watch brands, Japan is already emerging as the year's fastest-growing market.
Grand Seiko's success on international markets has been the cue for the Japanese firm to transform the collection into a full-fledged brand with its own production resources, logistics and sales support.
Japanese watch firms are intent on beating the crisis and, with competition rife at entry level, are strengthening their footing in the mechanical market, as shown by last year's takeover of Frederique Constant by Citizen, and by Grand Seiko's international launch.
The downturn in Swiss watch exports continued in May. Their value dropped 9.7% compared to last year, to stand at 1.6 million francs. Over the first five months of the year, the level was lower than that of 2012.
Every two years, the FH Centre in Tokyo conducts a survey of watch purchases among several thousand Japanese consumers. Finding: the Japanese are fond of luxury and Swiss watches.
Japan's first encounter with mechanical timekeeping came in the sixteenth century, as it did in Geneva. But whereas Calvin's Protestant doctrine had been the vector in Switzerland, it was Catholicism that brought horology to Japan.
Switzerland and Japan are this year celebrating the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between their two countries, a bond that was further reinforced in 2009 by a free trade agreement.