According to Forbes, the Grand Seiko Godzilla watch has “a number of elements in honor of the legendary creature. The prominent rays on the dial emanating from the center and shooting outward symbolize the heat ray beam that shoots from Godzilla’s mouth. The angular shape of the titanium case symbolizes the size and strength of the monster, while the red-and-black sharkskin strap recreates the rough texture of its skin.” WTF?
On the same week that Rolls Royce unveiled its one-off Horology Phantom – “with inputs from master horologists from the mecca of high-end watches, La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland” – Seiko is associating its high-end watch brand with a movie series famous for a rubber-suited actor laying waste to a miniature Tokyo.
If Grand Seiko wants watch buyers to equate their timepieces with Switzerland’s finest, this is exactly the wrong way to go about it. Can you imagine an Aliens Anniversary Edition Rolex Daytona? Me neither. Just as I was flabbergasted by the Grand Seiko Godzilla. I mean, who could have seen that one coming?
Anyone who caught wind of Grand Seiko’s previous co-branding reveal, the $21k NISSAN GT-R 50th Anniversary model. Pistonheads will recognize the connection between GS’s garish chronometer – complete with an 18k yellow gold GT-R emblem set into its oscillating weight – and the latest limited edition watch. Godzilla is the GT-R’s nickname.
Don’t get me wrong. The GT-R is a damn quick car bristling with high tech. But it’s an automobile that made its bones as a “bargain supercar” – a characterization it never managed to shake. Is that how Grand Seiko wants its products to be seen – as the lower-priced, high-performance alternative to Swiss quality, heritage and cachet?
Apparently so. So much so, they’re willing to hide their world-beating electro-kinetic-mechanical movement under a freaking cartoon.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe millenial millionaires see the $14k Grand Seiko Godzilla as “fun,” in a post-modern ironic kinda way. Or maybe they consider Swiss watches made by the likes of Rolex, Blancpain, Audemars Piguet, Patek Phillipe and Vacheron Constantin stuffier than Build-A-Bear’s biggest bear.
I doubt it. And even if it is true, the high-end watch market’s core clientele – Old Fat White Guys – aren’t dead yet. Like me, they’re attracted to Grand Seiko’s minimalist masterpieces. And put off by watch brands that sully their good name with cheap marketing gimmicks and garish special editions.
I reckon the Grand Seiko Godzilla and GT-R watches are the manifestation of corporate madness. After years of building timepieces far superior to their Swiss rivals without proper recognition or sales, Seiko’s marketing mavens lost their minds.
Godzilla? God help Grand Seiko. Next up: the limited edition Grand Seiko Pokémon Pikachu.