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Seiko

The history of Seiko is a more than 130 year story of innovation. From the very start, Kintaro Hattori was determined to be at the forefront of the industry and his oft-repeated credo was that Seiko should be “Always one step ahead of the rest.”

About

Kintaro Hattori was born in Tokyo in 1860. At the age of thirteen, he was working as apprentice near a clock store when he had the idea of opening a workshop; his thinking was that he could earn a decent living from the sale and repair of clocks. He learned the trade and opened a shop selling and repairing watches and clocks in central Tokyo in 1881.

In 1881, Hattori founded the Seikosha clock factory. The firm’s first pocket watch came out three years later.

From 1910, Seiko was making its own balance springs and, in 1913, started to produce wristwatches, becoming the first company in Japan to do so.

Having won all the chronometer competitions in Japan in the 1950’s, Seiko looked overseas and won two European watchmaking competitions, gaining international acclaim.  All the components in these chronometers were designed and made in house, and this led, in 1960, to the launch of Grand Seiko, a watch designed to be as perfect as any in the world.

Seiko continued to innovate: in 1969 it presented the Astron, the first quartz watch in the world, followed in 1973 by the world’s first six-figure LCD digital display watch. In 1988, Seiko presented Kinetic, a quartz watch powered by the wearer’s motion and in 1999, Spring Drive,  a luxury mechanical watch with one second a day accuracy.

In 1964, Seiko had become official time-keeper for the Tokyo Olympics, marking the start of a partnership with major sporting events that still continues. Seiko will time the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow, and has been the choice of the IAAF since 1985.

The Hattori family has remained at the helm since the start and, today, the Company’s President is Shinji Hattori, the great grandson of the founder.

1881
Kintaro Hattori opens his watchmaking workshop in Kyobashi.
1913
Kintaro produces Japan’s first wristwatch, the Laurel.
1969
Seiko Astron, the world’s first quartz watch, is launched.
1988
Seiko Kinetic, a quartz watch powered by motion, is launched.
2012
The launch of the Astron GPS Solar, the watch that adjusts to your time zone.
Philosophy

From the outset, Kintaro Hattori determined that Seiko would be “Always one step ahead” and this vision has inspired the company ever since.  

 

From the moment that Kintaro made his first pocket watch in 1895, he saw that the leadership he wanted would only come if Seiko developed the capability to build every component of every type of watch in-house.

Thanks to Kintaro’s vision, Seiko has always been at the forefront of watchmaking technology and has centred its watchmaking values on the real fundamentals : accuracy, durability and  reliability over time. From quartz watches right through to the ‘manufacture’ Grand Seiko mechanical movements, the firm offers leading edge technology.

Collections

Astron

The world's first GPS solar watch. By connecting to the GPS network, the Astron adjusts at the touch of a button to your time zone and, by taking all the energy it needs from light alone, never needs a battery change. A luxury watch that adjusts to all 39 times zones on earth, using the GPS network and just the power of light.

Premier

This collection is a blend of tradition and modernity. The harmony between these opposites is the inspiration for a dress watch combining technology and design.

Prospex

For true watchmakers, adventure sports – whether on the sea, on land or in the sky – present the greatest challenges of all. Since Seiko made its first diving watch in 1965, Seiko has been exceeding the expectations of those whose sports require watches with truly professional specifications.

Sportura

The sport watch collection that proves the value of 50 years of sports timing at the highest level.

Watches

A rival to Switzerland

Seiko watches have earned something of a cult status in watchmaking circles, namely for its high quality craftsmanship that hails from Japan, with price tags that are three times less than watches made in Switzerland. Today Seiko is based in Ginza, Tokyo, and is run by Shinji Hattori, the great grandson of founder Kintaro Hattori. The house produces both Seiko women and Seiko men watches, and as the original inventor of quartz, continues to innovate in energy saving technologies, whether watches powered by light or by the movement of the wearer.

Solar energy and Seiko Astron

Seiko launched the world’s first quartz watch in 1969 and has been a pioneer in the field since. It debuted the world’s first solar watch in 2012, and today its Astron line is equipped with GPS solar technology. High complication functionality is very much part of the range, such as the SSE174 (price £2,400) for men with its perpetual calendar, dual-time and 40-zone world time capabilities – and with good looks from its black PVD case and bracelet strap, matched with a black dial that has day window and geometric markers. Also part of the Astron range for men is the Executive Line of chronograph watches for men, such as the stylish SSE129J1 with a black dial on a titanium case and bracelet strap. There’s also a Astron solar chronograph for women, the SSE021J1 (price £3,095), that is truly chic and feminine (and notably without a diamond in sight): titanium case, white dial on white leather bracelet strap, and all the same high functionality, from perpetual calendar to world time.

Next-gen quartz technology

Seiko has also created watches powered by light. The Seiko Solar collection features the SUT068P9 (price £329) for women with a two tone stainless steel case and bracelet strap and diamond bezel for a jewelry look. The markers are lovely mix of Roman numerals and indexes, and there is also a date window. Also in the women line is a two tone (in stainless steel and rose gold) jewelry design, and diamond bezel with 20 stones. High quality dress watches for men also feature, such as the understated SNE034P1 (price £169), also with two tone stainless steel case and bracelet strap. For women there is the art deco style SUP252P9 (price £109), its solar powered quartz movement set in a rectangular case of high quality stainless steel gold tone and fitted with a brown leather strap. The SUP250P9 (same price) has a black leather strap, and a case once more in high quality stainless steel gold tone - but here with elegant Roman markers. Also for women is the SUT196P1 (price £179) with a gold tone stainless steel case set on a brown leather strap and a day window. The SNE372P1 (price £189) meanwhile is the version for men of the former, again with a gold tone case on stainless steel, the day window at 3 o'clock. With a brown leather strap, the watch is water resistant to 100m.

Seiko kinetic

In 1986, Seiko was the first to convert kinetic movement to electric energy, and today it has developed that know-how into a line of watches with self-charging batteries – based on energy stored from the movement of a wearer’s wrist.. The line includes the likes of the stainless steel case and bracelet strap SKA267P1 (price £219) for men, featuring a blue dial with silver markers. Meanwhile a black ion-plated stainless steel model, also for men, looks especially stylish with its black dial. There is also a Kinetic Diver’s watch (price £379) with a cool blue dial, a rotating blue/red bezel and stainless steel case and bracelet strap. (Indeed it also makes the Seiko Automatic Diver, with an automatic movement and black silicon strap from the Prospex collection). And neither is it all sporty designs: a version for women in stainless steel comes with a white dial and diamond jewelry markers.

Spring Drive movement

Another technical feat is Seiko’s Spring Drive mechanism, which combines a mechanical movement with a quartz oscillator to create a gorgeously gliding seconds hand. The functionality extends to the likes of the Grand Seiko SBGA011 (price £5,500) with hand-winding capability, and a special snowflake dial, or the SBGC005J chronograph (price £8,500) with chunky markers for men.