The story of Seiko began in 1881, when a 21
year old entrepreneur, Kintaro Hattori, opened a shop selling and
repairing watches and clocks in central Tokyo. Just eleven years later,
in 1892, he established the 'Seikosha' factory.
In Japanese, "Seiko" means "exquisite", "minute" or "success" and "sha"
means house. It was here that Kintaro Hattori produced his first clocks
and these marked the beginnings of a company that was to become one of
the world's most important manufacturers of timepieces.
The list of "Japanese first" is endless: first wristwatch, first Railway
pocket watch, first mechanical chronograph, first divers watch. In 1969
Seiko releases calibre 6139 – world’s first automatic chronograph with
both column wheel and vertical clutch.
It was Seiko who would produce the world's first quartz watch: Seiko
Quartz Astron was introduced in Tokyo on December 25, 1969. It delivered
an unmatched performance. It was accurate to within 5 seconds per
month, 100 times more accurate than any other watch, and it ran
continuously for a year. The quartz revolution had begun!
(Image: seikowatches.com )
However, what impresses me the most, is the dedication and persistence
of Seiko to cover the entire spectrum of watch and clock-making,
producing a vast number of timepieces. From entry level battery operated
watches to Grand Seiko and tourbillon; from domestic alarm clocks to
impressive public clocks. An amazing range of products, all designed and
manufactured ‘ in house' , in Seiko’s own factories. There is no Swiss
equivalent to Seiko, and the only Swiss brand that offered a wide range
of watches was Omega, in it's golden days, half a century ago.
Next time you are to travel to Japan, which I
hope will be soon, keep an eye out for Seiko public clocks which range
from high tech to simply art installations.