|Famous for||Launching the world’s first quartz watch|
The Seiko story starts in 1881 when Kintaro Hattori founded a clock repair shop in central Tokyo.
By 1892, Hattori had started making his own clocks under the name Seikosha (meaning House of Exquisite Workmanship) but it wasn’t until 1924 he started concentrating on watches. By 1929 Seikosha had caught the eye of the Japanese Railway Network, which deemed the Seikosha pocketwatch as the only one precise enough to be carried by its drivers.
Since then Seiko, as it was shortened to, has been a firm of ‘firsts’: the first quartz chronograph, the first multi-functional digital watch and the first spring drive watch, among many others.
In 1969, it launched the Astron, the world’s first production quartz watch. It had been 10 years in development and, at the time, cost 450,000 yen, which was the equivalent of a medium-sized car.
Despite its extortionate launch price, the Astron has remained a core watch for the Seiko brand. At Baselworld in 2010 it launched an anniversary edition and, two years later, it chose the Astron as the model in which to premier its GPS technology. This watch is able, thanks to its ability to triangulate your position via information received from satellites, to calculate what time zone you’re in anywhere in the world. Even if you’re in the middle of nowhere. Seiko launched its Astron with GPS capabilities for women in 2014 (see above).
Seiko hasn’t just made its mark in the world of quartz watches. Under its Grand Seiko brand extension, which was born in 1960 with the purpose of creating the best luxury watch in the world, it has set out to create a line of watches that exceeded the standards of precision and reliability set by any other watch in the world.
Unfortunately for watch enthusiasts, Grand Seiko was, until recently, only available in Japan – partly due to the limitations on how many could be produced. However under the current president and CEO Shinji Hattori, great-grandson of the brand’s founder, the Japanese monopoly on Grand Seiko has been lifted and we’re actually seeing some on these shore at last.
Back in the 1880s Kintaro Hattori devised a motto for Seiko, that it should always be “one step ahead of the rest” and remarkably, nearly 140 years later, it still is.
Did You Know? The new “Seiko Solar” technology converts all types of light into energy to power a watch – thanks to a solar cell with high performance electricity generation. No battery replacement ever required.
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