June 18, 2016
Sponsored Post ・ Written by Steven Leed of Royal Jewelers in Boston, Massachusetts.
Before I tell you about the upcoming launch of Grand Seiko watches at our store (and an event to mark the occasion that will be near our store – see RSVP link below), let me tell you a little bit about myself. I grew up in the jewelry and watch business. As a child, I would visit my dad at Royal Jewelers and sneak behind the counter to open the showcases. That’s when I would take the watches off their display pillows and examine each one closely. I would stand at the watchmaker’s bench watching him, with his loupe in-eye, assembling and servicing watches. It was at a young age that I developed a passion for watches.
In the ’50s and ’60s, American watch brands were popular and held in high esteem. All the watches were mechanical, and Bulova was king. In the mid 1960s, our country was engaged in the Vietnam conflict. GIs were coming back from Southeast Asia with a very cool-looking and inexpensive watch. The brand was Seiko, and they were beginning to distribute in the U.S. The style was sporty. The dials had color like blue or yellow. The watches were bold and well-made, and the prices were mostly sub-$125.
In 1968, I was away at school. Thumbing through the pages of Newsweek in the sunny school library, an advertisement jumped off the page. It was the coolest-looking watch I had ever seen. A Seiko with an orange dial, day/date, and an internally rotating bezel. Royal Jewelers had just become a Seiko retailer, and I had to have that watch.
Back then, there were no cell phones, no texting, no camera phones. I looked at the backside of the Seiko ad and it was an advertisement too. I had no guilt ripping the page out of the magazine. I folded the ad with a letter to my dad naming the upcoming holidays and my birthday. I expressed my desire – no, NEED – to own this watch. On Sunday, my weekly day to call home, my first words to my parents were, “did you get my letter with picture of the orange Seiko watch?” Persistence pays. I still have that much-coveted Seiko.
I joined Royal Jewelers in 1975. My passion for watches grew even stronger. We brought in Heuer and Breitling, then IWC. Watch collecting in the U.S. started to gain a little traction. Royal Jewelers along with about a dozen retailers in America started to focus on the collector market. We added Ulysse Nardin, Girard Perregaux, and many more Swiss brands. Seiko disappeared from our watch selection.
At Royal, we realized early on that to be the go-to store for watch collectors we needed to be a trusted source. To us, this meant a team of passionate, honest, and knowledgable associates. Most importantly, to be great advisors they had to be non-commission. To guide collectors in shaping a collection, they have to have the best interest of the collectors at heart. We continue to hire the most talented consumer-centric people. They visit the watch houses in Switzerland with regularity. We attend watch trainings almost monthly. If a collector is looking for a watch brand we do not stock or a watch no longer in production, we reach into our 68-year-old contact list and find it. Many of our associates have been at Royal 10-plus years. Some as many 25-plus years. We breed a great culture.
Fast forward to 2016 when Rusty Rowlands of the Seiko Luxury division shows me Grand Seiko and Prospex. I am taken with the high level of finish. The polishing is spectacular. I can’t recall seeing dial markers and sword hands polished so fine and so bright. The case, too. I am also smitten with Spring Drive. What a nice marriage of the fine art of traditional watchmaking and the latest in micro quartz oscillating technology. The watches are the most accurate mechanicals in existence. And one more accolade: the Snowflake dial. How do they do it? Truly a beautiful and unique dial.
Yes, Grand Seiko and Prospex are now in the fine-watch mix at Royal Jewelers along with Breguet, Cartier, IWC, Panerai, Ulysse Nardin, Piaget, DeWitt, Jaquet Droz, Omega, Girard Perregaux, Graham, Tag Heuer, and Oris.
This Tuesday, June 21st, 2016, from 5:30pm – 8:30pm, we are launching Grand Seiko and Prospex with a “Baselworld”-style event in Boston at:
Liquid Art House
100 Arlington Street
Boston, MA 02116
Seiko is flying in a Master Craftsman from Japan. He will assemble a Spring Drive movement at his bench. Guests will be able to see this process up close and ask questions. In addition to having the complete line of Spring Drive and Hi-Beat models, we will have on display the Basel 2016 introductions as well as Limited Editions. The party is by invitation only, so you’ll need to RSVP.
Members of the aBlogtoWatch audience may RSVP to the June 21st, 2016, event in Boston at Royal Jewelers by clicking here.
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