Founded in Chūō, Tokyo, Japan in 1881 by Kintarō Hattori, Seiko Holdings Corporation, widely known as Seiko, is a Japanese company that manufactures and markets watches, clocks, electronic instruments, semiconductors, optical products, and jewelry.
Seiko has been making high-quality watches for over a century now and is known for its innovative design and technology. The company still has its headquarters in Tokyo and is selling many of its products across the world.
The company and the brand had a long history and has faced and survived challenges, including the Great Depression and World War II. Seiko has always been known for its quality watches, but has been active in enhancing its own brand value in recent years. This is due in part to its partnership with Japanese fashion house, Issey Miyake, as well as its sponsorship of the Olympic Games.
But was Seiko able to successfully enhanced its branding to be considered a luxury brand? Keep on reading to know more.
Is Seiko A Luxury Brand?
Seiko is not a luxury brand despite its long history, quality products, and craftsmanship. While they make excellent watches, Seiko does not have the same level of prestige as other luxury watches such as a Rolex. Here are the reasons why Seiko is not a luxury brand:
1. The Affordable Price Tag
Since its inception, Seiko launched and still launching products that are affordable to the mass-market. And although the company has some high-end and expensive products, its overall product range is still considered to be more affordable when compared to other luxury brands.
2. The Lack of Luxury Ambiance
In terms of the materials used for Seiko watches, most of them don’t really have really made with the finest materials. Many Seiko watches, such as its original design, made with stainless steel, and not with the likes of high-grade yellow gold or platinum. Although stainless steel is still a great material to use, it’s just not too special or exotic.
3. The Lack of a Strong Brand Identity
Luxury brands are known for their strong brand identity, which is something that Seiko lacks. Although the company has a wide range of products, it doesn’t have a strong and clear brand identity that is distinguishable from other brands.
This is one of the main reasons Seiko is not considered as a luxury brand because a luxury brand should be able to create a strong emotional connection with its consumers. And in order for that to happen, the brand should have a strong identity.
Just to be clear, in Japan, to where it originated, Seiko is a big name and has a very good reputation. But for the rest of the world, it might not always be the case. Although for sure, the rest of the world is particular with the brand, it’s just that it is not in the luxury level of brand status.
4. It Lacks Exclusivity
Seiko watches are known for their quality and affordability. The beauty about Seikos is that they are amazing time pieces for under a thousand dollars which makes it a very appealing ‘first watch’ for many watch enthusiast. Some even refer to Seiko as the gateway drug to more expensive watches.
This philosphy is the complete opposite to how many other luxury brands position themselves where scarcity and controlled supply are used to bolster exclusivity which further adds to the allure of the brand to some.
Seiko on the other hand has continuously focused on delivering quality products at an affordable price tag which made the company very successful for many years.
Do Seiko Watches Hold Value?
Not all of Seiko watches hold its value. Just like any other brands, some of their products hold and appreciate in value while some don’t.
Some of the Seiko watches that are known to have a good resale value are the King Seiko, Prospex, and Astron. These collections are where some watches are specifically mentioned on its website that are limited in numbers and won’t be reproduced again once the stock runs out.
For example, the Men’s SNR041 from Prospex collection which cost $6,500 and is limited to only 200 pieces.
On the other hand, please take note that although some of Seiko watches may have a good resale value, especially the limited edition watches, the prices may or may not be higher than its original prices. One obvious reason is that although these watches were released in limited numbers, it may or may not be as rare as they are still produced in large quantity.
The Seiko watches in limited edition were in limited number of at least 200 pieces which is still a lot more than other luxury watch brands that do the same strategy. For example, the Vacheron Constantin Métiers D’Art Year Of The Tiger was only released in 12 limited edition models which makes it really rare, and which is why its resale value would really be high considering that its price tag is of around $111,426 USD!
Instead of offering luxury watches through their Seiko brand, the company has a separate brand called Grand Seiko which has a more prestigious offering. Some even go as far as to put it on par with a Rolex.
This strategy of starting a separate brand for to have a separate offering at a different price point is not uncommon in the fashion and watch industry. This allows the company to reach a different audience without diluting any brand equity. Another great example of the relationship between Rolex and Tudor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Seiko a respected watch brand?
Yes, Seiko has become one of the world’s most respected watch brand because of its humble beginnings, quality products, and efforts to innovate through the year.
What is the difference between Seiko and Grand Seiko?
The main difference between Seiko and Grand Seiko is that Grand Seiko is the luxury line of Seiko while regular Seiko watches are more affordable.
Where are Seiko Watches Made?
Seiko watches are made Japan, but the company also has manufacturing production in other countries in Asia. But take note that majority of Seiko watches are still manufactured in Japan. For example, its high-end line, Grand Seiko, manufactured in Northern Japan indefinitely to maintain its exclusivity as it builds its value as a luxury collection of Seiko.