History of the only manufacture with every watchmaking expertise.
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.
Today, after more than 130 years of innovation, Kintaro Hattori’s company is
still dedicated to the perfection that the founder always strove to achieve.
On the following pages you can explore Seiko’s long history
and see many of our landmark watches.
Kintaro Hattori opens a shop selling and repairing watches and clocks in Ginza, Tokyo.
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.
Seikosha was founded; started producing wall clocks.
In 1892 Kintaro Hattori bought a disused factory in Tokyo and Seikosha was formed (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.
Seikosha builds the first pocket watch.
Throughout the 1890’s, the success of Seikosha’s wall clock business increased, and Kintaro looked to broaden the range of his business. In 1895, he created a pocket watch, the Timekeeper. It was a vital step forward, without which the future of Seiko would have been very different as it paved the way for Japan’s first ever wrist watch.
The Laurel, the first wristwatch made in Japan, makes its debut.
In the beginning of the Taisho Era, pocket watches were still very popular and there were only a few wristwatches imported to Japan. Kintaro, however, was determined to be ‘one step ahead’ and embarked on the arduous task of creating Japan’s first ever wristwatch. In 1913, he succeeded and the Laurel was produced. In the early days, the company was able to produce only 30 to 50 watches a day, but, for the first time, Kintaro had established a lead on the rest.
The first Seiko brand watch was produced.
Seiko pocket watch is appointed as Japan National Railway's official "Railway Watch".
1929. As its railway network expanded, Japan National Railways appointed Seiko as its official supplier. Train drivers often made wooden cut-outs on their consoles where the approved pocket watch would sit in line of sight as they drove their trains.
Constructed The Wako Clock Tower, the familiar face of Ginza.
The current clock tower was constructed in 1932. The building adopts a style called neo-renaissance.
Started to use "Diashock", a shock-resistance device.
Seiko's signature piece, the Grand Seiko is first launched.
In 1960, the first Grand Seiko model was produced. High in the mountains in Nagano prefecture in central Japan. A small team of Seiko’s most experienced and skilled watchmakers were entrusted with the task of making the very best watch of which they were capable. Grand Seiko was to represent the pinnacle of Seiko’s excellence in mechanical watchmaking and to deliver more accuracy, legibility and durability than any other watch.
Seiko serves as Official Timer of the18th Olympiad, Tokyo, and provides 1,278 timing devices.
Introduced Japan's first wristwatch equipped with a stopwatch.
Japan’s first wristwatch equipped with a stopwatch, introduced in 1964, the year of the Tokyo Olympic Games. Its smooth operation and durability were ensured by a column wheel.
Produced the first Japanese Diver's watch
The first Japan-made diver’s watch, waterproof to a depth of 150 meters. The winding crown was designed with a double packing structure to withstand high water pressure. Designated for use by the 8th Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition.
Neuchatel Observatory Competition and Geneva Observatory competition
Introduction of cal. 6139, the world’s first automatic chronograph watch equipped with both vertical clutch and column wheel.
As the world’s first automatic chronograph with a ‘magic lever’, column wheel and vertical clutch, this may have been the world’s first such timepiece, and it was a milestone in Seiko’s journey toward pre-eminence in chronograph technology.
Introduction of the world’s first quartz watch, “Seiko Quartz Astron.”
The world’s first quartz watch, the Seiko Quartz Astron was introduced in Tokyo on December 25, 1969. It delivered 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, or 250 times longer than most mechanical watches. The quartz revolution had begun.
Introduction of the world’s first six-digit LCD quartz watch cal. 0614.
Introduction of the world’s first multi-function digital watch cal. 0634.
In 1975 Seiko launched the world’s first digital quartz watch with a chronograph, the 0634. It could record time to 1/10 of a second and had a lap time function. It also incorporated an internal light, so that it could be seen clearly in the dark. It became a huge hit and created the market for high-function digital watches.
Introduction of the world’s first diver’s watch with titanium case, the Professional Diver’s 600m.
One day in 1968, Seiko’s engineers received a letter from a professional diver from Hiroshima Prefecture. The letter shocked Seiko’s engineers with its vivid description of the stresses and strains put on a watch by professional saturation divers who dive to depths of 350 meters. Seiko took up the challenge. After seven years of research, the Professional Diver’s 600m, the world’s first diver’s watch with titanium case, was created. A gasket impervious to helium, legible at great depths and with a titanium case. It set a new standard for diver’s watches.
Introduced the world’s first TV watch.
The world’s first watch designed with both a tuner and headphone jack for watching TV at any time or place. Also equipped with an FM radio, together with all of the standard watch functions such as alarm, chronograph, and calendar.
The world's first Voice Recording Watch 'Voice Note'
Introduction of the world’s first analog quartz watch with chronograph.
Seiko’s mastery of quartz technology and of mechanical chronograph watchmaking came together in the creation of the world’s first analog quartz chronograph. It measured elapsed time to 5/100 second and offered split time capability and a tachymeter. It was designed by the celebrated Italian car designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro.
Introduction of the world’s first watch with computer functions UC-2000.
After introducing the world’s first TV watch, Seiko introduced a wrist computer that stored data. It was the first of its kind. It had memory of up to 2,000 characters and could store telephone numbers and addresses as well as a diary or schedule for up to one month. The Seiko wrist computer marked the beginning of the age of portable information devices.
The world's first Diver's 1000m with a ceramic outer case
The Diver’s 1000m was the first watch to use ceramic material for the outer case layer. The lightweight, corrosion resistant titanium case with a remarkable one-piece structure enabled this watch to withstand depths of 1,000 m.
Served as Official Timer of the IAAF World Championships in Rome, Italy.
Seiko serves as Official Timer at the 2nd IAAF World Athletic Championships in Rome, Italy.
Introduction of the world’s first “A.G.S.” watch cal. 7M22 (later renamed as “Kinetic.”)
Introduction of the world’s first computerized diver’s watch “Scubamaster” cal. M726 with dive table and depth meter functions.
Seiko’s mastery of electronic watchmaking and long experience in diving watches allowed the creation of the Scubamaster, that was equipped with a water sensor and depth sensor and that displayed diving time and depth, vital information for divers.
Served as Official Timer of the IAAF World Championships in Tokyo, Japan.
Seiko serves as the Official Timer at the 3rd IAAF World Athletic Championships in Tokyo, Japan.
Seiko serves as the Official Timer at the Games of the 25th Olympiad in Barcelona, Spain.
Seiko was selected to time the Olympic Games in Europe for the first time. A team of over 300 engineers and timing specialists served the event.
Served as Official Timer of the IAAF World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
Seiko serves as the Official Timer at the 4th IAAF World Athletic Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
A new generation of Grand Seiko mechanical watches.
The first new Grand Seiko mechanical caliber in twenty years. It set a new Grand Seiko standard, with cutting-edge production technology making possible a new interpretation of the traditional values of Grand Seiko.
Introduction of Spring Drive, a spring-driven luxury mechanical watch with quartz accuracy.
Spring Drive is a technology unique to Seiko. The traditional escapement is replaced by a totally new regulator that delivers silent and smooth glide motion hands and accuracy of one second a day.
Introduction of the Ultimate Kinetic Chronograph cal. 9T82.
Seiko’s successful Kinetic watch was equipped with stopwatch function in a very unique design. It is equipped with zero resetting function using heart shaped cam and special movement construction that avoids dusts.
Introduction of the first Grand Seiko Spring Drive automatic winding movement. Power reserve extended 72 hours.
Since unveiled in 1998, Spring Drive movement has been improved and reached its adoption in the Grand Seiko. Cal. 9R65 has a 72-hours power reserve in addtion to an automatic winding mechanism.
Introduction of the world’s first three-band (Japan, Germany, US) Radio Wave analog Solar watch.
Seiko commercialized solar powered radio controlled analog watches capable of receiving the standard wave of three countries (Japan, US and Germany), the first device of its type.
Introduction of the Kinetic Perpetual.
Powered by the motion of your body, it is the first watch to generate and save its own electricity. It goes to sleep when not worn and the hands return automatically to the correct time when put on again. The perpetual calendar will be correct until February 28, 2100.
Introduction of world's first E-Ink watch.
Using, for the first time in a watch, electronic ink technology, time or any other data is presented on a wide display area, with perfect legibility at any angle. Furthermore, the display allows the wearer to choose from many presentation graphics for the time, including a “day and night” background that shows, in a dazzlingly simple graphic style, AM and PM. This watch won the Grand Prix de Geneve.
Introduction of Credor Spring Drive Sonnerie.
Only Spring Drive presents the true natural and continuous flow of time, with no ‘tick’ as the hands move in perfect glide-motion. Only Spring Drive is so silent that time can be marked by the long, lingering chime of the Japanese Orin bell.
Introduction of the Spring Drive Chronograph.
Thanks to its glide motion hands, only the Spring Drive Chronograph can measure elapsed time exactly, and not to the nearest fraction of a second. It redefines the accuracy of the spring-driven chronograph by offering one-second-a-day precision.
The first new hi-beat caliber in Grand Seiko for 41 years.
Introduction of Seiko Spring Drive Spacewalk commemorative edition.
This watch was designed specifically for a spacewalk. Both inside and outside the International Space Station, it performed flawlessly in space. It won the sports watch award of Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
The world's first EPD watch with an active matrix system.
This new display system retains all the legibility benefits of Seiko’s first E-Ink watch, but allows for a much richer range of imagery and data to be displayed on the watch dial with 80,000 pixels, each capable of four different shades, delivering 300 dpi of display.
Introduction of Credor Spring Drive Minute Repeater
The beautiful lingering sound of the chime is created by the use of a special steel forged by a celebrated Japanese steelmaker, Munemichi Myochin. The purity of the sound is ensured by the magic of Seiko’s totally silent Spring Drive mechanism.
Introduction of the world’s first GPS Solar watch, Seiko Astron GPS Solar.
At last, the search for totally precise time, everywhere on the planet, is over. By developing our own, patented, low-energy-consumption GPS receiver, Seiko has been able to create a watch that can receive GPS signals and identify time zone, time and date data using the global network of GPS satellites. It recognizes all the 39 time zones on earth. This breakthrough timepiece is called Seiko Astron. Like its celebrated 1969 predecessor which was the world’s first quartz watch, the new Seiko Astron ushers in a new age of timekeeping technology.
100th Anniversary of Seiko watchmaking.
When, in 1913, Seiko built its first wrist watch, the company’s president called it the Laurel. It was not only a first for Seiko, but also a first for Japan and it was the beginning of a tradition of innovation that resulted directly from Kintaro Hattori’s determination that Seiko would always be “one step ahead of the rest”. Movie shows Seiko’s historical timepieces.
The Seiko Astron GPS Solar 8X Series Chronograph. The Astron revolution gathers pace
Chronograph: The new caliber offers a 6 hour chronograph whose operation could not be more simple.
Seiko wins the “Petite Aiguille” prize at the 2014 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève
Seiko's first tourbillon watch the FUGAKU from the Credor brand
Caliber 6830 is Seiko’s first tourbillon movement. Caliber 6830 was created utilizing the utmost in mechanical movement manufacturing expertise, with the base part a mere 1.98mm thick. Including the carriage, the whole movement measures just 3.98mm in depth, and the diameter is just 25.6mm, with the result that it is the world’s smallest tourbillon by volume.
Introduction of Grand Seiko Spring Drive movement 9R01. Power reserve extended 8 days.
Caliber 9R01 is the remarkable movement with a power reserve of eight days (192 hours). This extended power is provided by a linked series of three barrels, while general mechanical movement equipes one barel only. The three barrels are arranged vertically to save space. 9R01 has also been designed throughout to maximize energy efficiency, reducing friction between parts that would otherwise lead to loss in the transmission of the energy derived from the mainspring.
Grand Seiko "The Black Ceramic." Expansion of its horizons
Practicality and durability are vital attributes of all the best sports watches and are also core values of Grand Seiko which has demonstrated a consistent commitment to the pure essentials of watchmaking since its creation in 1960. Grand Seiko expands its design into sports watch category from the black ceramic models introduced in 2016.
Grand Seiko became an independent brand from Seiko
Grand Seiko has always been distinct in its design, character, presentation and, more recently, its calibers. In order to further reinforce its unique appeal and to reach out to a wider audience, it was decided to take one step further and presenting Grand Seiko as an entirely separate brand.