CEO Speak – Tetsuji Ishimaru

CEO Speak – Tetsuji Ishimaru

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Tetsuji Ishimaru, Managing Director, Seiko India, tells Mitrajit Bhattacharya what sets the Credor Spring Drive Minute Repeater apart …

In the event of the recent tsunami and earthquake in Japan, will Seiko be reviewing its plans?
In terms of production, some of our factories were affected but none significantly. So, we don’t see a major effect on the production side. But the best way to recover from a disaster is to stimulate the economy by producing and selling more.

What about the market in terms of consumers in Japan?
Consumer sentiment is extremely low. So, it takes some time to get it back to where it was which wasn’t very high at the beginning. But then I think this tragedy has changed many things and a lot of people are just thinking there might be a huge shift in paradigm, the way people think, the way people react, the way people spend on luxury products.

Will you kindly take us through your tie-up with Barcelona FC?
We are very excited about it since Barcelona FC is one of the top football teams in the world. It’s not just about winning or losing games, but the way they play the game. Besides, like Seiko, Barcelona FC too has a long history.

Do you have any plans to get associated with the game of cricket as well?
Not immediately. We are focusing only on soccer for the time being. We feel it’s too cluttered for the time being, and too much is happening there with too many brands. From paan masala to laptops everyone is in it. What we want to do is we follow a global strategy. So, it’s soccer that we are looking at and that’s where I think India needs to grow.
If you look at Indian cricket, there is Sachin and everybody has endorsement from him but not much team endorsement, just players basically.

You’ve just launched the 130th anniversary product, the Credor Spring Drive Minute Repeater. Do take us through it.
We have a small group of people at the Seiko-Epson Factory, which we call the Micro Artist Studio. They are involved with innovations alone. Sonnerie was a result of that. The Minute Repeater is the next generation of complication.

But Minute Repeater has been attempted by many others too.
Yes, Minute Repeater is one of the most difficult complications. What makes our product stand out from traditional Minute Repeaters is that we use Spring Drive movement, which is completely different from the existing mechanical movements in terms of sound; it doesn’t tick. It’s a completely silent movement.

In Sonnerie and Minute Repeater you have a mechanism called Governor. Do elaborate on this mechanism.
Governor controls the speed of the gong by utilising the resistance of the air to reduce or control the spin, thereby making it a silent operation. Traditional Minute Repeaters cause a fairly large background noise, thanks to the metal scraping inside the tube. If you listen to the traditional Minute Repeater closely, you hear the background noise. The Governor uses the resistance of the air, called viscosity, to reduce or control the spin, so nothing touches anything. That’s why it doesn’t make any sound. Because of the quiet movement and silent governor there is no background noise at all. For Sonnerie we generally use the traditional Buddhist bell. This time we looked for the perfect material and found a family that uses a specific kind of steel, which was earlier used to make weapons, to make wind chimes. We have used that steel in our Minute Repeater. That’s one of the highlights of this year.

Another product that caught my attention was the Grand Seiko.
We have done the Grand Seiko in gold, platinum and stainless steel. This is the reproduction of the original but with a new movement.

Coming back to the Credor, what’s the price?
It is US dollars four hundred thousand, making it one of the most expensive watches in recent years.