When it comes to classic brands, Seiko watches is certainly one of the most well-known and beloved watch companies in the world.
Where did Seiko get its start, and how did the brand become such a household name?
Read on to learn more about the history of Seiko and how it became such an iconic watch brand.
Humble Brand Beginnings
In 1881, a young 21-year old entrepreneur by the name of Kintaro Hattori opened up a watch and clock repair shop in Ginza, Toyko. Eleven short years later, he opened the Seikosha factory in 1892.
When the factory was first operational, it specialized in making wall clocks. Hattori named the factory Seikosha. Seiko means “exquisite” in Japanese, and sha means “house.”
In 1892, the very first Seiko wall clocks were produced and sold to the general public. This is the humble beginning of what would later become one of the world’s most beloved watch brands.
In 1895, Hattori’s Seikosha factory built the world’s first pocket watch called the Timekeeper. Thanks to the company’s success during the 1890s, Hattori was able to focus on building new products and revolutionizing the time-keeping niche. Eventually, these small steps would lead Seiko to design Japan’s first-ever wristwatch.
The First Seiko Watches
During the next decade or two, pocket watches were the most popular way for individuals to quickly tell the time. Even still, very few were actually imported to Japan for the general public to purchase.
In 1913, Hattori designed the very first wristwatch called the Laurel. This watch would change the way people tell time for generations to come.
Originally, the factory could only produce 30 to 50 of these watches per day, but that would soon change. The Great Kanto Earthquake struck the company headquarters in 1923 and destroyed the factory, but it didn’t stop Seiko from selling its first branded watch in December of 1924.
As the years went on, Seiko gained ground and became the leader in timekeeping products throughout Japan. In Fact, Seiko was the official supplier of pocket watches for Japan National Railways.
The 1950s and 1960s
Seiko continued to produce a range of products throughout World War I and II. However, the brand really gained ground during the 1950s and 60s with a range of unique and revolutionary watches.
In 1956, the Seiko Marvel made its debut and was a mechanical men’s wristwatch that combined beautiful looks with amazing accuracy. The Grand Seiko was introduced in 1960 and was the brand’s first attempt at marketing luxury watches.
With the release of the Grand Seiko, the brand was now in direct competition with some of the finest Swiss watchmakers. The brand released its popular Seiko Sportsmatic in 1963 in an attempt to offer analog watches to the younger more athletic generation. This watch featured a day and date display, waterproof and shockproof casing, and an automatic winding mechanism.
In 1964, Seiko watches got another boost when it was selected to be the official timer for the Olympic Games. This put Seiko not just in the national spotlight, but in the international spotlight as well.
Seiko released a beautiful diver’s watch in 1965, which was the first of its kind made in Japan. The Seiko 5 Sports Speed Timer was released in 1969 and was the first automatic chronograph watch with both a column wheel and a vertical clutch. By this time, there was little doubt that Seiko was a pioneer in the world of wristwatch design.
In the same year, the company released its Seiko Quartz Astron, the world’s first quartz wristwatch which was considered an amazing breakthrough at the time. Its sleek design and incredible accuracy only propelled Seiko further into the spotlight as being the world’s best watch brand. A beautiful 18k gold case made it a luxurious purchase for many, and a special 50th-anniversary commemorative edition was released in 2019.
Modern Day Developments
Throughout the following decades, Seiko continued to design and sell a variety of watch models. The company introduced a solar-powered watch in 1977 and a hand-wound power-generating watch in 1986.
However, it was 1988 when Seiko introduced new technology that would really solidify and identify the brand worldwide. The Seiko AGS or Automatic Generating System, also known as “kinetic” came into the spotlight. This watch uses an oscillating weight that converts the wearer’s movements of the wrist into electricity that powers the quartz movement for precision timekeeping.
Over the years, Seiko continues to design and build unique watches for the modern wearer. The Seiko collection from H2HUB features a range of stylish, stunning watches made by this dynamic world-renowned brand.
Many collectors looking for the latest watch trends laud Seiko as being one of the most unique and revolutionary watch brands in the industry today. The Spring Drive Spacewalk was released in a limited run of 100 in 2008 and is a highly sought-after product from the brand.
In 2012, Seiko released Astron Solar, a beautiful wristwatch that uses solar power to receive GPS signals. This incredible watch changed the way people viewed what standard wristwatches were capable of. As you can see, Seiko continues to be a pioneer in the world of watchmaking.
The Seiko Saga Continues
It’s clear to see that Seiko watches have a history steeped in pioneering new manufacturing and time-telling techniques. This incredible brand continues to make beautiful, functional watches that are both stylish and incredibly accurate.
From the brand’s humble beginnings in a factory in Japan to becoming a collector’s dream, this brand will continue to be a popular household name for years to come.