Seiko’s International Push

Seiko’s International Push

Japanese watch manufacturer Seiko recently announced that its coveted “Ananta” series would be released for international distribution. This is a curious but welcome development, and deserves some further comments.

Seiko itself remains a bit of an outlier in the high-end luxury watch market. That industry really and truly belongs to the Swiss, French, Germans, and Italians. In other words, it’s a European monopoly. Japanese maker Seiko represents the pinnacle of Asian engineering in an industry dominated by Europe. That it’s able to compete and thrive speaks volumes to its commitment to quality.

Maybe that’s what makes the Ananta so attractive and competitive. After all, the Japanese didn’t just mindlessly copy what the Swiss were doing. Instead, they applied techniques that have made them successful in both the electronics and the automobile industry. They applied precision manufacturing to the Ananta, and they incorporated certain cultural elements that serve to set their products apart from those of the Swiss. For example, Seiko claims that the Ananta is based upon Japan’s samurai sword. The lines, the cut—even the processed steel—derive their inspiration from the katana.

The icon is culturally unique, as well as bold and striking. It’s the perfect icon to build a brand around. Additionally, it’s a curious time for the Japanese to make a foray into the international market with one of their best products. The market is hurting; global sales are down across the board. Seiko’s left the Ananta in its own domestic market for some time, and only in 2010 does it decide to export it. Perhaps the recession has given the Japanese the opportunity to claim market share at their expense. When the global economy rebounds, Seiko may find itself in a better overall position than its rivals. Perhaps this is Seiko’s preliminary steps toward building a stronger international clientele.

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