JAPAN WATCH REPORT


Orient: the watch brand of Epson

JAPANESE BRANDS

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July 2019


Orient: the watch brand of Epson

Orient, which specialises in automatic watches, wants to take advantage of Epson’s global infrastructure to make itself better known internationally.

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astering the organisational structures of large Japanese conglomerates requires a little training. Take the Orient watch brand, which has been producing mechanical watches since 1950. In 2017 it became part of the Seiko Epson Corporation, which manufactures watches and movements for... Seiko Watch Corporation, but also produces its own Epson watches. Try not to get confused!

Less well known than the triumvirate that dominates Japanese watchmaking, Orient went into international distribution in the early 1960s (see Europa Star archive pictured). At that time, the brand was concentrating on countries that were not yet supplied by the major watch companies, such as Korea and Vietnam.

Orient went into international distribution in the early 1960s (see Europa Star archive pictured).

An advertisement by Japanese brand Orient in a 1978 edition of Europa Star.
An advertisement by Japanese brand Orient in a 1978 edition of Europa Star.

Today, however, the Japanese domestic market remains by far the largest market for the manufacturer, ahead of the EMEA region. “Being part of Epson gives us greater distribution and marketing strength, through Epson’s regional offices,” says Wiebke Bird, the company’s UK based head of European operations.

“Being part of Epson gives us greater distribution and marketing strength, through Epson’s regional offices.”

Focus on mechanics

While Epson’s main market – printers – is undergoing major changes, the conglomerate sees watchmaking as a possible growth driver. Orient’s output is currently 80% automatic watches and 20% quartz. It is thus much more “mechanical” than other Japanese brands, with an average price of 250 dollars.

This emphasis on mechanics is accompanied by an effort to promote its heritage, in line with the trend we’re seeing in Japan to move from a technological perception to a more emotional image of the nation’s products. The watches are equipped with movements produced at Orient’s facilities in Akita Prefecture.

Orient’s output is currently 80% automatic watches and 20% quartz, with an average price of 250 dollars.

“We want to restore the brand’s long-term strength and reputation for quality,” says Wiebke Bird. “Today, a large number of sales are generated through word of mouth. We want to improve overall visibility. In terms of distribution, our integration into Epson offers a clear advantage.”

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