During Baselworld 2014, TimeZone met with Shinji Hattori, President & CEO of Seiko Watch Corporation (Seiko). Mr. Hattori is the great-grandson of Kintaro Hattori, who founded Seiko in 1881. From an early age, Mr. Hattori’s commitment focused exclusively on Seiko. This is different from the typical Fortune 500 CEO whose average tenure at a company is a few years. Mr. Hattori’s steady and continuous commitment to Seiko is certainly reflected in its success. Today, one-third of the world’s watches use Seiko components and demand for high-grade Seiko watches continues to increase worldwide with sales seeing double-digit growth.
Mr. Hattori shares his personal values and insight into how Japan’s oldest watch and clock manufacturer continues to stay one step ahead of the competition. He discusses his involvement in developing the Astron GPS, the significance of the Grand Seiko Historical Collection, the first US Seiko Boutique that opens in August, as well as the the company’s long-term plans to expand its US service center.
Shinji Hattori, President & CEO of Seiko
TimeZone (TZ): Were you involved in the development and design of the Astron GPS?
Shinji Hattori (SH): Yes. Astron is a project that is very close to my heart and I was involved in every aspect of its development.
TZ: How did you conceive of the Astron GPS?
SH: We’re now experiencing rapid globalisation and I felt we needed to develop watches that were also borderless. I had been thinking for a while that a watch that adjusted to the exact time anywhere on Earth could be very convenient and popular. In 2005, we began a brainstorming project to envision our future watches. Everyone agreed our biggest dream was making a watch with a GPS function. The GPS watch provides exact local time anywhere, even in the middle of the Pacific Ocean or on top of Mt. Everest.
TZ: From 2005 until 2012, that’s seven years from the time the Astron GPS was conceived until it came to market. That seems like a long-term commitment to the project?
SH: Our engineers are given a lot of freedom to pursue whatever they think is innovative, and they’re given the time and resources to do it.