Shinji Hattori of Seiko on Changing Perceptions

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Shinji Hattori, President and CEO, Seiko on adhering to the vision of his great grandfather, while striving to introduce a new sense of fun, vitality and excitement.

What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
The most challenging aspect is to keep focused on the long term. There are always day-to-day issues, but what really matters is the long-term health of Seiko and to keep the focus on that is my greatest challenge. I am helped in this by the vision of my great grandfather, “Always one step ahead of the rest.” When I make decisions, I try to take the long term view with this vision in mind. However, I also have another priority. I want Seiko to have a new sense of fun, vitality and excitement, and we want to reach out to people in a new, more engaging way. I also want our own people to share this same spirit of fun and excitement in the many Seiko facilities around the world.

Which are some of your favourite pieces?

I have two favourite watches at the moment. The first is my Grand Seiko Hi-Beat GMT. We are very proud that this watch received a prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in 2014. I also like to wear an Astron GPS Solar Dual-Time, because its function is perfect for a frequent traveller like me.

How will Seiko appeal to new customers?
We do this in several ways. First, we take care to present Seiko as a brand that has a sense of fun, vitality and excitement. We offer watches that have emotional technology and innovation as well as refined design. May I use Astron as an example? Astron is a beautiful watch, of course, but its real appeal is the sense of wonder that you feel as it adjusts to the exact local time wherever you travel. It uses just the power of light to connect to a GPS signal from satellites 20,000 kilometres up in the sky. Only Seiko can offer the new consumer watches with this capability and there is a special feeling of pride and excitement that our customers describe to us about their Astron watches. It is watches like Astron that are bringing the new consumer to Seiko. Another way is via our growing network of boutiques. Through our own boutiques and through our many independent retail partners, our aim is to bring the excitement of Seiko to more watch lovers.

The impact of the smart watch continues to be a matter of debate. What’s your view on this?
It is clear that the connected watch is one of the most important developments in our industry in recent years, and we are watching this new market very carefully. I believe it is a positive development. It is important for the future of the whole industry that new ideas and products bring new energy to the watch market. We found this with Astron, and I think the smartwatch will have the same effect. Seiko is a traditional watchmaker and our customers want every
Seiko watch to be a long-life, self-sustaining product that needs no external energy input. They also expect Seiko to be a leader in any technology. So we don’t want to make any watch that is not true to our values, but we are listening carefully to the market. If we decide to enter this market, we have the skills to do it in a uniquely Seiko way.

What’s your plan for India?
As I look ahead, India is a vital market for Seiko and I am very optimistic about the future of our brand in this rapidly growing market. We are also developing collections especially for the Indian market.

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