The GS topic has piqued my interest, so given what others have posted in this thread, I did a little bit of research to learn more about this specific offering. Hayward and RogerP - you two have probably forgotten more about GS than I will ever learn. So forgive my sophomoric and possibly simplistic impressions below.
1. GS has been around for over 50 years, and for the majority of this time it really didn't care about markets outside Japan, as RogerP mentioned. However, presumably they did start caring in 2010 - or at least they began exploring international markets and how they would do. Summary article here from the 'Dink back in July 2010 about the GS international push:
Hayward's note above provides some perspective as to why they might have done this relatively late in their long history.
2. They expanded to about 20 markets, including North America. It looks like they cared enough about these new markets to come up with a new website, according to this article:
3. Late in 2010 articles like this appeared in the New York Times, raising questions about whether GS could crack the higher end market given various issues associated with the brand. BUT read the entire piece and it's actually very positive: they highlight attributes about GS that they feel is clearly superior, and it ends on a high, optimistic note:
“Most parts of the movement are crafted manually,” Gisbert L. Brunner, a German author on watches, noted in the May issue of Chronos magazine in Japan. “That’s something not been done in Swiss factories in a while.”
“If more people learn of the superior processing technology and the level of the precision, nothing seems to stand in the way for Seiko to achieve success in the European market,” Mr. Brunner added. “Grand Seiko delivers value far exceeding the price tag it carries.”
(I actually enjoyed reading this article a lot; worth three minutes of your time if you haven't read it)
4. OK - so GS is clearly high quality. Misunderstandings from earlier posts and exchanges aside, it's been clarified that no one really questioned the quality of GS. It's also been clarified (I think) that:
4.a. If you choose GS over other watchmakers for its quality, aesthetics, mechanics, etc - good for you! Wear it in good health! As an individual spending your own money you are most entitled to your choice for a timepiece with which you've fallen in love.
4.b. The question revolves around whether GS can compete in the market against other watchmakers with a similar price point, along with everything else subsumed under the heading of "brand offering."
Does anyone have actual numbers of GS's sold, say, in the US market or other markets excluding Japan? I can't find any stats.
5. As an economist by profession, I am morally obliged to check out pricing patterns. One possible telling development: while we have had endless discussions about watchmakers like Rolex or Patek raising prices (the 2008-2009 blip aside), last July GS actually lowered its prices for the US market.
Notes here from Arizona Fine Time, a dealer describing themselves as "Grand Seiko's Premier Authorized Dealer in the US:"
(And before anyone shreds me to pieces for comparing Rolex or Patek to GS, here's none other than a guy from Arizona Fine Time emphasizing the quality of GS... by referencing Rolex and Patek):
"Grand Seiko is still relatively new to the US market, but collectors are becoming more aware of its presence every day. I have seen many avid Patek and Rolex collectors switch to Grand Seiko because of its superior quality. Grand Seiko is not only a brand of beauty, but a brand of accuracy. The biggest goal in the watch industry is accuracy. Seiko holds the crown in every sense."
- from "Joe @ AZFT" via this site: http://www.watchtalkforums.info/forums/thread60904.html
(Also, I'm not so sure that the biggest goal in the watch industry is accuracy... but that's a topic for another day ahaha)
6. So - again - the point is not that GS is a bad watch, or about any value judgments about GS versus non-GS buyers. GS chose to enter non-Japan markets in 2010 for one reason or another. Presumably they want to succeed in some form. The issue is not "eh, I don't care if GS succeeds in non-Japan markets. I love GS watches." The question is has GS been successful, so far, given its overall offering, brand associations and pricing strategy? Dino944, stitchy and others are skeptical.
But I wonder if we have actual numbers that can speak for themselves. Market share? Volume, year over year growth stats compared to their initial projections? Anyone have awesome numbers they can and would like to share...?
Edited by no frills - 9/11/13 at 11:40am