Last night was no different. As much as both Josh and myself avoid discussing touchy issues at midnight, this one could not have been avoided. And quite frankly I didn't see it coming.
"Why are you spending so much time promoting Seiko? You should promote our own watches. One day, in maybe 5 years or even sooner, Seiko will get rid of you and you will end up like any other discarded Swiss 'authorised dealer' out there."
Make no mistake - Josh is a fantastic maker, and without him there would be no NH watches. But our project is much more complex than just NH watch. In order to grow, we need locally trained, clever, enthusiastic young watchmakers. And my role is not to promote our watches. My role is strictly defined: to create an environment that will allow us to grow. From building a workshop and importing machinery and tools, to the training of new apprentices. Growth takes time. Growth takes patience. Growth needs money.
To blame a salesman for being enthusiastic about Seiko is like blaming a terrier for being enthusiastic about chasing rabbits. I've spent decades spruiking second hand Omegas, Rolex, and Breitling. I got nothing in return. Not even a lousy Christmas card. And while Swiss brands were doing their best to prevent me repairing their watches and providing an honest service to their customers, I have nothing against the watches themselves.
Unlike the Swiss, Seiko does respect us - and always has. Most importantly, many of our customers absolutely love Seiko watches. At this stage, Seiko does not restrict supply of spare parts to independent watchmakers. If they ever decide to follow the path of Swiss megabrands, or to close our dealership - then I will re-evaluate my stance. But Seiko was always good to us. My grandfather sold Seiko, and my dad still sells Seiko. So will I - and so should Josh.
Seiko simply makes sense. There are only so many Omega buyers out there, and even fewer people who can afford a $20,000 sports Rolex. Yet every person you see on the street, in the food court, or on the bus to work, is a potential Seiko customer. Millions of people in this town alone could easily afford a brand new, retro looking, robust Seiko watch. Selling just two Seiko watches per week would provide wages for one full time employee. It's as simple as that.
Seiko is no longer a $250 watch. Surely there is plenty of room for improvement (better bracelets, expansion into ladies' range, better timekeeping) but as the prices of new watches are going up, Seiko will have more room to make even better watches.
Our watch - the NH2.1 - is no longer a watch. It is a mechanical piece of art. And art is extremely difficult to sell. Artists have no choice but to do what they do. They don't chase customers. They don't scream 'buy my art'. They don't beg. Most of them struggle until death and die anonymous and poor. That's art for you. But that piece of art which will outlive the artist, bearing the maker's name, will provide enjoyment and pleasure for generations to come.
Our customers understand what our project is all about. Many of them are great supporters and will continue to support us, and help us grow. We are blessed because at the end of the day, it's the journey that matters, not the destination.