Earlier this year I was lucky enough to be able to visit the new Seiko Dream Square (SDS) in Tokyo. The SDS opened on the 20th of December 2018 and the building is a showcase and interactive experience for Seiko to help raise awareness of the brands history and current series on offer today.
The SDS is located between the WAKO Annex building and Gucci on Harumi dori Ave in Ginza, and is about a 20 second walk from the main WAKO building, that is located where Kintaro Hattori established his first headquarters, that houses the iconic clock tower that has become synonymous with the Ginza district.
The first floor of the SDS is designed to replicate the WAKO clock tower and visitors are greeted with a large sculpture representing the clocks mechanics when you first enter. The main doors to the building also have the clock face design duplicated onto their surface. On the walls of the first floor is a display that replicates the scene looking down upon the Ginza 4-chome intersection in front of the WAKO building. The display has a number of videos that show the development of the region over a little more than 100 years, a timelapse of the intersection taken from the clocks position and a video showing the evolution of Seiko watch designs over the years.
In the centre of the first floor is a mini satellite of the Seiko Museum with a display showing various key models from the development of Seiko watches.
The displays start with the founding of Seiko in 1881 and then the establishment of the clock tower and company headquarters in 1892 at the current WAKO location.
Next is an example of the Empire pocket watch which became the first big success for the company after its launch in 1909. Next to the watch display is a small diorama showing Kintaro Hattori demonstrating the watch to train commuters. These small dioramas continue on the other displays featuring Hattori-san and a related scene. Next to this is an example of Japan’s first wristwatch the Laurel, produced by Seiko in 1913.
Located in the centre of the main display area is the remains of a number of customers pocket watches that were destroyed at the Seikosha factory, as a result of the fires that broke out after the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. The fires destroyed a large number customers watches that were in for service, and despite many destroyed records Seiko announced that they would offer customers new replacement watches for free. Almost 1,500 watches were provided in this replacement program.
Some of the original destroyed watches that were melted together in the fire can be seen in the display case. This collection of destroyed watches was previously located at the main Seiko Museum but has been relocated to the SDS for display.
The next item on display is from 1924, with the first model watch to carry the Seiko branding.
This is followed by an example of the first Grand Seiko model from 1960. This model evolved from the Marvel and Crown models and was Seikos first move to make the best possible practical watch.
Following the First GS is the Crown “one button” Chronograph from 1964 the same year that Seiko was the official timekeeper for the 1964 Olympics. This is followed closely by the 1965 release of Seiko’s, and Japan’s, first true dive watch with the 150m rated 62MAS.
Just a few years later Seiko released the watch that would revolutionize the industry with the release of the world first quartz watch, the 35SQ Astron.
The rapid development of quartz technology can be seen in the 1982 release of the world's first TV watch. The watch had a seperate tuner section and a 1.2 inch LCD display.
Rounding out the historical pieces on display is the second watch from the Lukia series for women that was released in 1997 and the first model Grand Seiko Spring Drive that was released in 2004.
On the wall is a diorama and video screen highlighting the sports timing technologies produced by Seiko.
This is an interesting collection of historical models and there is the opportunity for these models to be swapped out for others over time to ensure the exhibits remain fresh. If you are interested in the history of Seiko and these exhibits pique your interest then it is definitely worthwhile making the journey to the main Seiko Museum if you have some time. A quick walk through of the main museum can be found in my previous article as well as directions and booking details.
Completing the first floor of the SDS is a work area showing numerous tools that are used in the assembly and production of watches at the Shiojiri and Shizukuishi facilities where the Grand Seiko and Credor models are created.
This area has a large workbench with lighting and cameras that allows the work space to be displayed on a pair of large monitors flanking the bench. There are regular displays that are conducted at the SDS by artisans from both Epson and SII where they demonstrate movement assembly or specific craftsmanship like engraving. These demonstrations are held on most Tuesdays and Fridays, at multiple times usually 11:00, 14:00 and 16:00. It is worth checking with the staff what the current schedule may be if you are visiting on those days or check the SDS website as it will usually show the upcoming demonstrations.
Heading up the stairs to the second level you pass a display for Prospex on the wall that indicates what is to be found on the next floor. Here a collection of the current Prospex models can be seen. When you have this many different models presented at the same time it becomes clear the depth of the range. The models are shown in a number of cabinets around the room but there is also numerous models out on display where you physically handle the watches to get a feel for them.
In addition to the watches on display there is also an interactive exhibit that allows the user to dive through a virtual underwater experience and identify numerous key models from Seiko’s long history in dive watches.
Also on this floor is an interactive display that allows users to find out more about key Seiko technologies and historical models.
Heading to the third floor you again pass a display indicating what to expect on the next level. This floor has displays for both Lukia ladies watches as well as the Presage series. The first part is dedicated to Lukia and it surrounds a display an artwork by the TAKT PROJECT design studio, featuring a range of color palettes representing the different seasons throughout the year. Surrounding the artwork are a number of cabinets displaying various models from the Lukia range and these are paired with different color themes for each season.
Behind the main Lukia counter was a sign autographed by Japanese Actress Haruka Ayase who was given the honorary title of CEO for a day when the SDS was first opened.
The second half of this floor is dedicated to the Presage range. There are displays of all of the major models in the series as well as some displays showing the different traditional Japanese techniques that are utilized during the creation of many models.
In the center of the floor is a single watch contrasted against a video display showing scenes from each of the four seasons. When I was there the new Urushi Byakudan-nuri SARW045 model was featured but I am sure this model with change regularly, highlighting the latest releases.
Throughout the various displays on each level are numerous iPads with details of the watches in that area. Visitors can go to the dedicated Square Navigator website on their mobile device that provides a number of functions. In addition to a general floor map and help section there is also an area where users can save their favourite watches to the “My Album” section. The user simply selects the watches that they are interested in on the iPad and then these can be saved to the users mobile.
The Square Navigator also has a Walk Rally feature where users can touch their mobile against a gear symbol on the wall to gain access to special content. There are four main gears located throughout the SDS and also a hidden fifth gear.
Travelling up to the final level you are presented with a display for Astron. This area has a place to relax and check out the latest range of the GPS solar watches. There is a display with all the latest models as well as an interactive exhibit that show the technology behind the Astron and how the watches operate.
Customers can purchase all of the models at the store and also ask the knowledgeable staff any questions they may have about the products. I think this is a great showcase for the different Seiko ranges and the inclusion of the small satellite museum and demonstration area make it a great place to visit. If you are in the Ginza area it is definitely worth your time to spend a few minutes checking out the Seiko Dream Square and chatting to the staff there.
I visited the Seiko Dream Square as part of my Japan Winter 2019 Travels.