NEW HORIZONS
World of Watches|Autumn 2021
Interview with recently appointed President of Seiko Watch Corporation, Akio Naito WORDS
KELVIN TAN

With almost four decades of experience within Seiko Watch Corporation, Akio Naito recently rose to take on the helm of the famed Japanese watchmaking company. We took some time to speak to him via email in July 2021 and understand the key points behind Seiko’s recent successes as well as the direction the company is heading.

What were the learnings from your international capacity that you will now bring to Seiko as the leader?

Seiko is a global brand. It is also a brand covering a wide range of price points. Thus, diversity is an important aspect of our business. My experience and learning overseas, along with various positions I took within our organization, through more than 35 years of my career at Seiko, helps me think globally and from many different angles.

What will you do differently from your predecessor? And what will you continue to do the same?

My predecessor and I have very different professional backgrounds. He has much more experience in marketing and sales than I do, and my experience has mainly been in management. I have supported him for four years and often admired his strong leadership in forming marketing and sales strategies. My management style is different and my aim is to arrive at a decision through exchanges of ideas with my staff rather than initiating some new marketing and sales strategies based upon my own experiences.

What do you think Grand Seiko and Seiko have done right to be in such great spotlight today?

Thank you for your kind comment. Our founder, Kintaro Hattori’s philosophy ‘Always one step ahead of the rest’ has been passed down through generations and still inspire the company. He teaches us that every merchant needs to be one step ahead of the rest, but only one step. If you go too many steps ahead, you will become distant from the public and closer to a prophet. In all our brands and all aspects of our operations, this philosophy guides us today and will continue to do so in the future. The success in Grand Seiko and Seiko in recent years is, I believe, a result of our faithful efforts to realize Kintaro’s vision.

Let me elaborate on how our latest products capture his vision by taking one of our latest Grand Seiko creations, SLGH007, as an example, whose dial is inspired by tree-rings and perfectly captures Kintaro’s spirit and words. It is equipped with the latest Hi-beat Caliber 9SA5, which delivers a remarkable 80-hour power reserve, exemplifying our continuous pursuit to make advances in our watchmaking. In addition, the series of delicate and organic lines of the dial denote each year of the company’s steady growth ever since its foundation. I sincerely hope people can touch it by hand, feel the elegant beauty of this watch, and know the stories and the technology behind the creation.

How important are brand ambassadors to Seiko?

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