I spent a special time in the '90s playing through Squaresoft’s 1997 masterpiece, Final Fantasy VII. I can still remember the moment the in-game clock rolled past 100 hours of playing time. More than 20 years later, Square Enix (as the company is now known) is set to release a remake of the RPG classic, hoping to reach a new generation of gamers as well as allowing those like myself the opportunity to relive fond memories. However, I never thought my interest in video games and high-end timepieces would merge into limited products, and I absolutely never imagined the arrival of $2,500 Square Enix x Seiko Final Fantasy VII chronograph watches.
Elevated Merch or Cash Grab?
These timepieces are part of Square Enix's compelling Final Fantasy VII merchandising strategy, which features far more than the standard assortment of plush toys, action figures, and other straight-to-the-shelf collectibles. Upscale products like jewelry and leather goods, for instance, are included in the offerings.
In Japan, video game-themed luxury timepieces are not unheard of. Look no further than a nearly $20,000 Super Mario Bros. watch for proof. For those in the rest of the world, why a video game franchise’s remake merits a $2,500 timepiece is understandably a mystery.
On more than one occasion, Japanese domestic market (JDM) watches leaving the country experienced incredible global success. An excellent example is Seiko’s own Grand Seiko line of high-end Japanese timepieces that were once sold only inside of Japan and a small number of other markets. Today, Grand Seiko is sold everywhere and considered a consumer phenomenon. Interestingly, Square Enix has designated three sets of 77 pieces (per set) for each of the two Final Fantasy VII chronograph watches to be sold in the United States, Europe, and Japan.
To make these watches, Square Enix tapped Japan's K-uno jewelry brand, which produces a select number of bespoke watches and is mostly unknown outside of Japan. The watches they produced for Square Enix are designed and named after the protagonist, Cloud, and antagonist, Sephiroth. The former comes in a natural steel case while the latter is coated in black. Both are equipped with matching bracelets, while unique emblems at the 12 o’clock hour marker and other visual details distinguish the two models.
Both timepieces are 44mm wide with a sapphire crystal, and they contain a high-quality, Japanese-made Seiko Instruments automatic chronograph movement. These particular chronograph movements are rarely seen outside of Seiko-branded timepieces. The movement can be observed through the rear of the case, and the automatic rotor is given an attractive “VII” motif on it. Aside from the case, dial, and bracelet design, additional decorative elements include mother-of-pearl in the center of the dial, as well as the onyx cabochon located inside the crown.
So, Would I Buy the Square Enix x Seiko 'Final Fantasy VII' Chronograph?
Given the limited production of the Final Fantasy VII chronograph, as well as the bespoke nature of the majority of parts, the asking price is not unreasonable — though at a glance it is true these designs don’t immediately suggest such demanding retail prices. Square Enix was nevertheless savvy enough to release a high-end luxury watch with the RPG remake.
Why? Well, not because of the spending power of newer, younger gamers. Instead, they're for guys like me who grew up playing Final Fantasy VII, have since become watch lovers with a bit of disposable income, and want to have a respectable wristwatch that reminds them of simpler times. If you're like me, then $2,499 ain't so bad.
The Square Enix x Seiko 'Final Fantasy VII' chronograph is expected to release March 31, 2020. Sign up for the waiting list here.
Ariel Adams is a professional timepiece critic, founder of aBlogtoWatch.com, and an internationally recognized expert on the industry of wristwatches.