It is difficult to summarize SEIKO history in a short, concise post. Nevertheless, this post tries to capture the essence of SEIKO and the milestones it achieved.
Early years with a humble shop
It was the year 1881. A young 22-year-old entrepreneur, Kintaro Hattori, started a humble shop selling and repairing watches and clocks in central Tokyo. His passion and love for watches made him start his factory in 1892, just 11 years later.
The factory was called SEIKOSHA. In Japanese, SEIKO means ‘exquisite’ and SHA means ‘house’. That is the reason, SEIKO watches are excellent in craftsmanship!
It was here, that Kintaro Hattori produced his first clocks. This was the beginning of a company whose timepieces would be loved and admired by the world!
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As the business for these wall clocks was booming, in 1895, he created a pocket watch, the Timekeeper. This was the most important milestone for the company as it paved the way for Japan’s first ever wristwatch.
Introduction of the wristwatch
Till 1912, pocket watches were very popular and wrist watches were being imported from all over. So, in 1913, Japan’s first wristwatch ‘Laurel’ was produced.
In 1923, the great Kanto earthquake struck and the SIEKOSHA factory was reduced to a rubble. Not bogged down by the quake, the company was rebuilt and they made an entirely new watch. This was for the first time ‘SEIKO’ branding was used and it started to become the norm for all other watches. The SEIKO branded wrist watches started getting extremely popular and well known for its quality and durability.
In 1956, SEIKO started using the Diashock which is a shock-resistant device. This was used to absorb shocks from unexpected falls. That way, it protected the most vulnerable part of a watch i.e. the balance-staff pivot.
In 1959, SEIKO made its first self-winding watch with a proprietary device called the ‘magic lever’. This device was clever, low cost and produced excellent winding quality. These watches instantly dominated the world market and the popularity of self-winding watches went thru the roof!
In 1960, it produced the Grand SEIKO, which was the ‘crème de la crème’ watch they could produce. It was the most accurate and durable watch that SEIKO ever produced.
In 1969, it produced the world’s 1st automatic chronograph with the magic lever, column wheel, and vertical clutch.
The quartz revolution
They did a double whammy in the same year and started the ‘Quartz movement’.
These quartz watches were 100 times more accurate than any other watch in that period. The hand movements were aided by a quartz crystal and powered by a battery. Moreover, Quartz watches were easy to manufacture and were economical. Factory machines could churn out several of these in a day!
This revolution was called the ‘Quartz crisis’ by the Swiss watchmaking industry. As Swiss watchmakers primarily relied on mechanical movements, Quartz presented a serious threat.
The 1st quartz watch was called ‘Quartz Astron’.
In the coming years, it produced the 1st LCD digital watch, professional divers 600m with a titanium case, TV watch, kinetic watch, GPS solar watch and many more.
At present, SEIKO produces a variety of collection to suit every pocket. In fact, it is one of the most luxurious brands that makes amazing watches at very competitive prices and excellent quality!
Check out the cheapest mechanical movement watch made by SEIKO. This is an amazing watch for a price under $100!