SEIKO SINCE 1881
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.
1881 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.
1892 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.
1895 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.
1913 MILESTONE MODELS 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.
1924 MILESTONE MODELS The first Seiko brand watch was produced.
In 1923, the Great Kanto Earthquake struck and the company's headquarters and the Seikosha factory all burned down. A fresh start had to be made. Just after the Earthquake, the company had created a new watch and it went on sale in December 1924. It was the first to carry the name Seiko, introducing to the world for the first time the brand name that was later to become synonymous with precision and accuracy, innovation and refinement.
1929 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.
1932 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.
1956 Started to use ""Diashock"", a shock-resistance device. Diashock is a shock-resistance device. When a watch is subject to shock, as when it is dropped on a hard floor, the component most likely to be damaged is the balance-staff pivot, which is the balance wheel’s rotation axis. Even compared to other movement parts, this part is extremely thin, being only between 0.07 to 0.08mm in diameter, or about the same as a human hair.
Protection from shock is therefore crucial and the Seiko solution was to create Diashock, a device that absorbs impact on one of the most vulnerable parts of the mechanical watch, the balance-staff pivot. Diashock also reduces friction to ensure optimum amplitude of the balance wheel.
1959 Gyro Marvel This is the first self-winding watch equipped with Seiko's proprietary “magic lever"" system. The magic lever is an innovative self-winding mechanism that uses the simple “claw lever system” efficiently to transmit the power of the oscillating weight in both directions.