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Seiko’s History: "Always one step ahead of the rest”

Posted by George Bogdan Bejan on

The History of Seiko

Discover the history of the Seiko watch brand in our guest blog post below, kindly written by MontresPubliques.

Seiko's History: Always one step ahead of the rest

Seiko was founded in Tokyo back in 1881.

Japanese watchmakers, like many of their large conglomerates, have rich histories going back hundreds of years. Seiko was founded by a 21-year-old entrepreneur, Kintaro Hattori, after he opened up a shop selling and repairing watches and clocks in Tokyo. This first store was established in 1881.

 Kintaro Hattori and the Seikosha factory in 1897

Kintaro Hattori (1890) and the entrance to the Seikosha factory in 1897 / Credit: Bangkok Post

By the 1890s, it was producing both clocks and pocket watches manufactured in the ‘Seikosha’ factory. Then in 1913, Seiko produced Japan's first wristwatch, the Seiko Laurel. Seiko had beat out several other Japanese companies, including other Tokyo clock companies like Tokyo Clock Co. and Japan Pocket Watch Manufacturing Co. to reach this milestone.

 Seiko Wristwatch from 1924

Seiko wristwatch from 1924  / Credit: Seiko

By the mid-20th century, Seiko produced some truly innovative timepieces that set the stage for its future. In the early 1950s Seiko produced the Seiko Super which then became the Marvel. And in 1960 Seiko released the first Grand Seiko. This marked the beginning of not only the Grand Seiko but also the King Seiko and Lord Matic lines to follow.

Then, in 1969, Seiko released the Astron-35SQ. This was the world’s first quartz watch, which delivered unparalleled performance. It was accurate to within 5 seconds per month, which was 100 times more accurate than any other watch.  This watch would upend the Swiss watchmaking industry through what is called the ‘Quartz Crisis’. The effects to the mechanical watch sector were devastating, the Swiss watch industry was effectively cut in half, with about 1,000 companies closing and more than 60,000 people losing their jobs.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Seiko continued to produce extraordinary quartz watches, along with many legendary vintage Seiko dive watches, but also stopped producing Grand Seiko between 1975 and 1988.

Last year, Seiko celebrated its 140th Anniversary. It is still a company dedicated perfection, just as young Kintaro Hattori was when he started Seiko back in 1881.

In modern times Seiko continues to innovate, especially through its Grand Seiko brand. Keeping true to their motto “Always one step ahead of the rest”.

Grand Seiko Snowflake

Grand Seiko “Snowflake” SBGA211 / Credit: Linda Jewellers

By: Montres Publiques

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