Fine Time With Seiko Watches In Arizona

Fine Time With Seiko Watches In Arizona

Fine Time With Seiko Watches In Arizona   watch shows events

A potentially unlikely spot for die-hard high-end Seiko fans is a unique shop located off the main drag in Scottsdale (area of Phoenix) Arizona. Arizona Fine Time is the watch selling arm of Cigar King, the very well-known mostly online cigar retailer. For close to a decade now they have been growing their retail and e-commerce sales of some of the more interesting watch brands in the mostly under $10,000 segment that they carry. They are also the best performing high-end Seiko watch retailer in the entire US.

Fine Time With Seiko Watches In Arizona   watch shows events

What is AZ Fine Time's secret? In addition to running a watch store unlike most watch retailers, the guys at AZ Fine Time just love Seiko (and watches). While most of their business is online, it would be a shame to miss out on a visit watch store itself. Well, the part watch store, part cigar humidor, part lounge, and all-around guy hang-out.

Seiko recently threw another "Grand Seiko Roadshow" event at Arizona Fine Time where a few hundred watch and cigar fans came together to meet with some select Seiko staff and check out watches. In here you'd think that Seiko was the top-dog brand as educated watch connoisseurs discussed everything from rare models to intricate details of their favorite Seiko watches. Some of their biggest fans are the guys who work at Arizona Fine Time.

Fine Time With Seiko Watches In Arizona   watch shows events
The cigar lounge, a major reason patrons visit the store

Cigar King owner Mitchel Hirsh reportedly started selling watches several years ago due to his own passion for collecting timepieces. This was to be a supplement to his already thriving cigar business. Though business has gotten good enough that plans for a dedicated watch store are in the works. Hirsh does not employ commission-based sales guys pressured to push timepieces. Instead, the store has some highly dedicated watch lovers who are more in charge of the watch sales department and work with customers to educate them on the timepieces they carry. The difference between consumer education and pushing a sale is very real.

Fine Time With Seiko Watches In Arizona   watch shows events

Fine Time With Seiko Watches In Arizona   watch shows events

I didn't see a lot of actual traditional sales going on while spending time at the store. The customers saw what they like and simply asked for what they wanted. This comfortable store environment that feels more like a club-house lends itself well to a low-pressure sales environment where customers feel it is appropriate to be casual and themselves. It is a big change compared to the typical stuffy environment of most watch retails that feel highly unwelcoming and sterile. In America, this is how luxury is bought and sold at its best. Come in and Mitch will pour you a class of whiskey and you can talk watches, cigars, or anything else on your mind.

Arizona Fine Time prides itself on carrying unique brands. They have a growing brand list made up of both popular and niche watch makers. All three major Japanese watch brands are prominently displayed, as well as others such as Fortis, Tutima, Glycine, Mido, Union Glashutte, and Luminox. More are added each year as Hirsh likes to mix it up with new styles and brands that regularly offer novel designs. One thing common to all of the brand he carries is that they tend to have a good value proposition given their price and features. Of course that includes Grand Seiko and Seiko Ananta watches that are highly cherished among many of the most educated watch lovers.

Fine Time With Seiko Watches In Arizona   watch shows events

Fine Time With Seiko Watches In Arizona   watch shows events

Seiko was there with their usual bevy of educational materials. Charts, trays, and a live watch maker from Japan to show everything from how cases are polished to what it looks like when assembling a Spring Drive movement. A key treat for Seiko lovers was the personal autograph received by the watch maker himself on new watches they bought (most people wanted him to sign the box, not the watch).

High-end Seiko watches are still "officially" new to America. For years the most dedicated enthusiasts could import pieces like ones in Seiko's Grand Seiko line directly from Japan on an individual basis. Though a few years ago Seiko decided that Grand Seiko and its higher-end Ananta collection would be officially sold through distribution channels in the US. A risky move for Seiko, places like Arizona Fine Time prove that it was a good idea as the watches fly out of the store on a regular basis. Either you've been loving Grand Seiko for a while and are happy that they are here, or the passion from those that have been waiting for them to hit our shores easily rubs off on you.

Fine Time With Seiko Watches In Arizona   watch shows events
Halfway through assembling a Spring Drive movement

Fine Time With Seiko Watches In Arizona   watch shows events

Mostly priced under $10,000 (with a few notable exceptions) high-end Seiko watches deliver all the quality refinement of a Swiss watch, but made in Japan. Not only that, Grand Seiko and Ananta watches have features and technologies that you simply can't get elsewhere. Coming to mind first of course is their highly innovative Spring Drive movements - that are a combination of both quartz and mechanical timekeeping technology. So good are the movements that according to Arizona Fine Time, not a single piece has ever come back for service. And that is saying a lot from the guys who sell the most of them in the USA. It is true that among other qualities, Seiko is known for making a very reliable product.

While popular in the US, Seiko is still very much a Japanese brand in design and spirit. Lots of models never make it to the US, and the brand's marketing and engineering philosophy is highly conservative. In Japan for example watch lovers are keenly interesting in technology and quality. While also true in the US, most European watch brands have focused their marketing on luxury and lifestyle, versus treating watches like precision instruments. For Seiko, a watch will always be a precision instrument. You never get the feeling from them that they are selling a lifestyle product.

Fine Time With Seiko Watches In Arizona   watch shows events

Fine Time With Seiko Watches In Arizona   watch shows events
Why yes, this is an amusing typo

An interesting model for 2011 is the Grand Seiko 130th Anniversary model. It's design is an almost exact copy of one of the first Grand Seiko models from the 1960s. It comes with a manually wound movement in a steel, gold, or platinum case. Even here in the US where Grand Seiko doesn't have a history dating back that long this retro homage watch has done well. More contemporary Grand Seiko watches showcase the real nature of the Seiko sub-brand. To offer the same utilitarian values as the more mainstream Seiko watches but with increased quality and technology. These are watches that don't feel pretentious, which rubs off on the way people perceive them.

Fine Time With Seiko Watches In Arizona   watch shows events

Small enclaves of high-end Seiko fans exist all over the US. It could take decades (or longer) for more people to become aware that Seiko sells watches valued at more than a few hundred bucks. Though those who discover and decide to purchase these watches tend to be universally happy.

I recommend that you check out Arizona Fine Time if you are in the Phoenix area for a unique watch buying experience. If the odor of cigar smoke bothers you then check them out online.

23 comments
Krayzie
Krayzie

Getting a Grand Seiko is like buying a Honda NSX. Only the true fans would appreciate or even know its existence. It is a technical exercise to showcase engineering precision as they rely on volume sales of their low-end line-up to fund this costly high-end production. Thanks for the enthusiasm Ariel about GS and BTW I love your Hour Time Podcast with John the show is hillarious! :D

Cliff
Cliff

i just purchased a GMT yesterday at AFT. The watch, especially the bezel, is spectacular. and the mechanical inside appear to be second to none!

I agree with the comments on Mitchel and Joe. Pleasant and knowledgeable and enthusiastic. A pleasure with which to work.

While I don't smoke, the store is perfect. Comfortable and welcoming.

John
John

Thank you Ariel for bringing my attention to this event it was a pleasure talking with you and meeting the staff over at AZ Fine Time. Firstly nice to see so many people with the same affliction I have,and for a brand that produce a far more interesting watch at their pricepoint re movement and finish than most.I look forward to adding one to my collection , maybe at next years event if we're that lucky to have another in AZ.

Molle
Molle

Excellent write up and pictures! Thanks!
Visit my site for pictures of my Seiko Collection.

/Stefan

Mike
Mike

Really regretting not buying a Grand Seiko when I was Hong Kong a few months back. I could have gotten one of their hi-beat movements for around $4500 USD. Next time I'm in Asia I'm definitely going to be buying a Grand Seiko even if it means I have to stay in a backpackers hostel instead of a hotel.

The build quality of them is amazing, comparing it to my seamaster and aquatimer its really in a different league.

Roger
Roger

Hi Ariel,
I really like how you champion Seiko. Aside from being very interesting and informative, it's also very refreshing. Great article, great angle, great content.
Roger

Eric
Eric

Here I am with ready access to everything Seiko and I am thinking of purchasing a Panerai or JLC. Go figure. As Greg says above, I too have yet to hear any real criticisms of the high-end Seiko lines. Maybe I should have a look one of these days. And since the yen rate is a non-issue, the price would be probably 30% cheaper than what is being paid in the States. The exchange rate is a killer if you have the US dollar!

Randy Torres
Randy Torres

I would love to have been there. I bought a Seiko Ananta Spring Drive from the great folks at AZ Fine Time and I can't say enough good things about them (or the watch), especially Joe Kirk, one of the truly great watch sales professionals.

That GS spring drive chrono with the blued hands in the picture? A thing of true beauty and on my grail list. The MSRP on that watch is a tad under USD $10k. I can assure you that if you take that exact same watch and just simply replace the Seiko logo with the Patek, Audemars or Vacheron logo, the watch doubles in price, at the very least!

Great article and excellent photos Ariel, thank you. I am very jealous that you were able to make it to Scottsdale. Last year Seiko did a roadshow in NYC (which I missed) and I sure wish they would do another one here in NYC.

Ulysses
Ulysses

Are blatantly commercial posts allowed in this blog? Getting a little tired of this "Harvey" fellow trying to push Bianci watches in almost every post. Anyone in agreement?

Frank
Frank

We definitely had a great time out there in Scottsdale and echo Ariel's observation he made above. You can see a wrist shot of my Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT SBGE001 that I purchased earlier this year from the fine folks at Arizona Fine Time. Many thanks go out to Mr. Mitchel Hirsch, Mr. Joe Kirk, Joshua and all the members of AZ Fine Time that made us feel right at home during our visit.

It was also great to personally met the Seiko Japan and Seiko USA management in attendance. The nicest bunch of people you'll ever meet.

Thanks Ariel and it was also a pleasure to get to talk to you as well.

Anthony
Anthony

So glad to see this article. As a fan of both the Grand Seiko line and Citizen's high end Chronomaster, these watches deserve more coverage. Besides beautiful examples of watchmaking, they're relative bargains.

Thanks for the great shots and thanks to AZ Fine Time for bringing them to the USA.

BIG CHRONO
BIG CHRONO

I have the Orange Monster (quartz), but after losing much weight, & reaching ideal BMI,
the monster is too large diametrically, & fitwise. I have retired it, but am looking @ smaller Seikos, @ smaller prices.

shinytoys
shinytoys

Excellent article Ariel...

Long Live Seiko !!!!!

Dr4 (Steve)
Dr4 (Steve)

"Snow Frake Dial"??? Is that intentionally misspelled...?

Greg
Greg

The 130th anniversary piece in picture 4 is an absolute beauty in my opinion. I'm really drawn to its simple, pure lines, but at a touch below 36 mm in diameter I think I might be stuck in my 'big watch' ways. Still, definitely want to check one out in the flesh and see, I hear they're selling fast in steel. I've so far read nothing but good things about the build quality and accuracy of these watches.

admin
admin

No problem Roger, thanks for the thoughts.

admin
admin

I am torn on this one. On the one hand I don't like deleting comments that are not blatant SPAM. I feel that too many watch sites censor like mad and I never wanted to be that. On the other hand Bianci is getting a bit over-zealous. Having said that, a human is doing it and you readers freely understand what they are trying to do. I recommend responding to "Harvey's" comments telling them to knock it off and start commenting more intelligently.

admin
admin

Good to meet you as well. Thanks for the thoughts Frank!

Krayzie
Krayzie

That's not a typo. When Japanese speaks English in their own native accent that is how they pronounce snowflake (the syllables L and R are swapped) haha silly Japanese. :D

admin
admin

Oddly enough that is just one of those typos that seems to further stereotypes a bit more than we'd like.

kris c
kris c

Man, I hope so. I barely kept myself from spraying coffee on my screen reading that.
What is that SD chrono model in the picture below that? I've never seen that one, and it is certainly the nicest I've seen yet.

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