Tidlos Craft had the pleasure to interview Toby Takahashi (@jdm_horologist), an enthusiastic collector, trader, and expert on Japanese Made Watches, foremost Seiko. We enjoyed hearing about his perspective of Japanese watch collectors and him living and working in Japan.
Photo Courtesy of @jdm_horologist
Tidlos Craft: Thank you Toby for finding the time to speak to us
@jdm_horologist: The pleasure is mine.
TC: Where are you from and where have you spent time?
@jdm_horologist: I was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada. Both of my parents are Japanese and made their move to Canada three decades ago. I naturally developed an interest in my parents' Japanese roots which brought me to Japan and other parts of Asia where I currently reside.
| "Living in Canada with Japanese parents, I was always curious about Japan. When I was 17 I made my move to Japan and lived there for a decade."
Vancouver, Canada, Photo Courtesy of @wikipedia
TC: How was it growing up in a Japanese household?
@jdm_horologist: My mother is a Japanese tea ceremony teacher, so Japanese traditions were part of my life. I grew up in a fairly strict traditional Japanese household, this helped me to better integrate myself into Japan and their working culture.
TC: Did you travel to Japan often during your childhood?
@jdm_horologist: I often traveled to Japan until my teens. My grandfather who was a school principal allowed me to join classes to learn Japanese.
TC: What made you decide to move to Japan later in life?
@jdm_horologist: Living in Canada with Japanese parents, I was always curious about Japan. When I was 17 I made my move to Japan and lived there for a decade. I completed my studies, began my career, and eventually got married in Japan. I worked as a salesman in a telecommunications company and became a global account manager related to IT sales and consultancy.
TC: Many Western Media often write negatively about the Japanese economy or mindset, being pessimistic. How do you perceive it?
@jdm_horologist: From my personal viewpoint, the Japanese have a hard time adapting to new methods that may be much more efficient than the ones that brought them success in the past. Old virtues such as respect and honor are integral to the working environment and many are scared to change a system that has worked for them in the past. I would say this mindset is halting the growth of Japanese society. I don’t think it’s declining but they are definitely not improving as efficiently as they could. However, the younger generation has a much more open mindset and can hopefully change the stagnant economy of Japan.
| "Everyone is usually well dressed, wearing similar style suits. The only thing tangible would be your shoes, ties, and watches."
lomography, David Tesinsky's Visual Chronicle of the Salaryman
TC: When did you get interested in watches?
@jdm_horologist: I was not really into horology when I was young, although I had a Casio or two. My interests began when I moved to Japan and got my first part-time job. In traditional Japanese working environments, everyone is usually well dressed, wearing similar style suits. The only thing tangible would be your shoes, ties, and watches. As I worked in sales I saw many other colleagues wearing different watches which got me curious. As a Japanese born in Canada, I naturally gravitated towards Japanese watches. Near my office, there was a Seiko boutique which I passed by every day. That is where I had my first encounter with the watch that would start my JDM watch collecting journey, the Seiko SARB033.
Photo Courtesy of @jdm_horologist
Seiko SARB033, Photo Courtesy of @jdm_horologist
TC: What watches do the Japanese like?
@jdm_horologist: The Japanese mainly like swiss watches. Most Japanese people have an admiration and affection for foreign luxury brands and unfortunately, most people would rather purchase a Rolex or Omega and never consider purchasing a Grand Seiko.
Grand Seiko, Photo Courtesy of @jdm_horologist
TC: What’s your philosophy on collecting watches?
@jdm_horologist: Collecting watches is a never-ending journey, just as our fashion style and hobbies change over the years, our style of collecting watches will be shaped indefinitely by our lifestyle. In the early 2010’s I was so intrigued by the Seiko SARB line that I collected over 40 models out of the 49. Over the last few years, I have been on a mission to purchase all Japanese pieces that I believe have a chance of becoming collectible in the future. As Japan has a huge range of watches from low-end Seiko’s to Credor, there are many hidden gems to uncover.
Royal Orient, Photo Courtesy of @jdm_horologist
TC: What other watches are you looking at?
@jdm_horologist: Although I am first and foremost a Seiko guy, as my name JDM Horologist (Japanese Domestic Market) suggests, I am also into all aspects of Japanese watches. Whether that be Royal Orient which takes their signature Power Reserve indicators and open heart watches to the next level, or Citizen Chronomasters which have the most accurate watches to date and showcase the capabilities of standing head to head with the likes of Grand Seiko.
Citizen Chronomaster, Photo Courtesy of @jdm_horologist
| "I spend at least 10 hours a day doing something related to watches and many might call me crazy."
TC: Do you have a holy grail?
@jdm_horologist: My grail would be the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon, the movement is breathtaking. Although the watch is extremely complicated, it has an incredibly clean, legible look.
TC: How did you start your IG account?
@jdm_horologist: I initially just wanted to share my stories and watch collecting journey with fellow hobbyists. I am very fortunate and blessed to say that it has now grown into a business. I spend at least 10 hours a day doing something related to watches and many might call me crazy. At the end of the day, watches are my beloved passion and this is what drives me to perfect my ever-growing JDM Collection
TC: What advice would you give younger people who want to start collecting?
@jdm_horologist: I would say it comes down to your personality. You should buy what you want and what suits your lifestyle, of course depending on your budget. When I worked in Japan I always wore suits, so dress and sports watches were the ones most suitable for me.
TC: What watch would you pass on to your kids?
@jdm_horologist: I would definitely pass down the Seiko Expo 70. This is a watch that has significant meaning to me as a Canadian with Japanese parents. The Expo70 was a limited production piece gifted to the executives of the Osaka Expo. The red logo symbolizes the concept of five separate continents harmonizing and coming together in the image of a Cherry Blossom, Japan's national flower. As my father is from Osaka and because I have many fond memories of traveling there when I was young, this is a piece that speaks to me on a personal level.
Osaka Expo ’70, Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia
Seiko EXPO ’70, Photo Courtesy of @jdm_horologist
TC: How do you see your future in watch collecting?
@jdm_horologist: Watches are my passion and lifestyle. I believe this hobby will last with me for the rest of my life. I’m only at the beginning, I’m meeting new incredible people around the world every day. This opportunity we have right now to speak to each other is also thanks to watches.
TC: What did you learn about yourself while collecting?
@jdm_horologist: In the world of watch collecting, something that I have learned is to always stay humble. Not everyone has the same taste, budget, or philosophies when collecting. We need to have an open mind to appreciate various brands and models for what they excel at and realize how much time and effort is put into all of these pieces.
Seiko Automatic 29 Jewels, Photo Courtesy of @jdm_horologist
TC: Thank you Toby for sharing your journey! We look forward to learning more through you about the Japanese mindset and Seikos.
@jdm_horologist: Thank you very much, it was my pleasure.