Seiko watches are Japanese owned and the Seiko Company is among the respected watchmakers globally. The brand started as a small store located in Ginza in the city of Tokyo in the year 1881.
Seiko Holdings Corporation reliably produces excellent wristwatches which promote the craftsmanship of the Japanese people. This brand does not only make watches, it also make clocks, jewelry, optical products and a variety of electronic devices.
You may have just bought a Seiko watch or you may be planning to buy one and now you’re wondering where the watches are made. In this article, we’ll answer your question and also give you a brief overview of the history of the watches and delve into all things pertaining to Seiko watches.
So, let’s answer the question “where are Seiko watches made?”
Where Are Seiko Watches Made?
The movements used in Seiko watches are manufactured in Japan. They are also made in their companies located in Malaysia, Singapore, and China. All of the brand’s watches which are classified as luxury are manufactured in-house. More specifically in their Shizuku-Ishi watch studio located in Iwate, Japan. An example of a luxury watch made here is the Grand Seiko watch.
The Shizuku-Ishi studio has an awesome website which doesn’t only just show the expertise used in the watches, it also includes the craftsmen and the location itself. The craftsmen are considered to be the elite of the elite behind the watches.
To get more insight into the brand’s technique of making watches and their watchmakers, visit the Shizuku-Ishi watch studio website. All you have to do is click this link http://www.shizukuishi-watch.com/eng/index.html
It is said that watches that are manufactured outside the country of Japan are allowed to be labeled as made in Japan. “How?” You may be wondering. It’s simple, the logic behind this is that if they are managed by a Japanese official, then this theory can stand. This is in contrast to the strict criteria required for Swiss watches.
The video below should enlighten you more about Seiko watches:
Seiko History Explored Through 12 Of Their Iconic Watches
Seiko is known for pricing their watches which are quartz quite low. They also have timepieces known as Grand Seiko which are classified as high horology. Notwithstanding, a lot of people may not know that the brand’s watchmaking history goes as far as the 19th century. This history also includes quite a number of firsts in the world of watches.
Let’s take a quick look at Seiko brand’s 12 most noteworthy pieces below.
1. Seikosha Timekeeper — 1895
The founder of Seiko, Kintaro Hattori was just 21 years old when he started his first business. He set up his clock and watch store which he named after himself i.e. K. Hattori, in the Kyobashi district in the city of Tokyo.
It was here that he started to build and repair clocks and watches.
He was only 31 when he collaborated with Tsuruhiko Yoshikawa, an Engineer and together they started up the factory producing watches located in Seikosha. This factory became the beginning of the well-known brand known as Seiko and it all started in 1892.
Once they had produced wall clocks which were excellent quality for several years, the brand released its first pocket watch. Seiko named it the Timekeeper in the year 1895. The 54.9-millimeter silver case was manufactured in Japan. However, a lot of the 22 ligne movement was brought in from Switzerland.
The fact that this watch was given the English name of Timekeeper was due to astute business intelligence of Hattori. He understood that an English name would increase the chances of this product being exported in the future export.
2. Laurel — 1913
Hattori hurriedly noticed the growing reputation of the Laurel worldwide and correctly anticipated that the request for watches could soon overtake the request for pocket watches. This is why the Laurel made its debut in the year 1913, only 11 years after the release of the initial Hattori wall clocks.
The Laurel was 29.6 millimeters in diameter, contained a silver case, a 12-ligne movement and an enamel dial which was porcelain. Initially, they needed to bring in parts from abroad which had a knock-on effect on production and made it slow.
They were only able to produce between 30 and 50 pieces every day. However, by 1910, the brand was able to manufacture their own balance springs. By the time it was 1913, they were able to produce their own dials which were enamel.
3. First Seiko Watch — 1924
It was an unfortunate event when the great Kantor earthquake hit the city of Japan in the year 1923. This had a negative effect on the brand’s stocks and factory as they were destroyed. The manufacturing of Seiko wristwatches also had to be halted. However, Hattori was determined and made a decision to rebuild quickly even though the costs were massive.
A short while later, more specifically a year after, the brand unveiled the very first watch named Seiko to the whole world. The Seiko name was written on the dial. Now Seiko is short for Seikosha which roughly translated means “House of Exquisite Workmanship” in Japanese.
The use of a non-English name was a sign that Hattori had enough faith in the excellence of his inventions and they would sell. This was in spite of the fact that it was widely believed back then that merchandise manufactured abroad had superior quality.
This timepiece had a 24.2- millimeter case which was made up of a 9-ligne, 7-jewel movement, and a nickel. Its small seconds subdial was the standard from this time till the year 1950. At this point, the Seiko Super was released. It was the first watch from Japan containing a central seconds hand.
4. Seiko Marvel — 1956
Seiko considers this watch to be an era-making watch in its past because it was the first watch released by the brand whose movement was created completely in-house right from scratch. In simpler terms, this means it was not subjected to influence by other watch movements manufactured elsewhere or in Switzerland.
The diameter of the movement, which was 26 millimeters, was bigger than the Seiko Super watch. It had the same measurements of the Seiko Automatic that was released in the same time period. It is distinguished for being the first automatic wristwatch from Japan.
Its stability and accuracy which included a new Seiko innovation known as “the Diashock shock absorption system” was much grander than the watches made before it. It was also far more superior to other watches made in Japanese watches during that time period.
The Seiko Marvel was manufactured until 1950 when it was replaced by the Seiko Gyro Marvel that came with an automatic movement that was still quite new at the time. It included Seiko’s Magic Lever mechanism which improved the efficiency of the winding.
5. First Grand Seiko — 1960
This watch was invented by Seiko and would come to be known as “the best in the world” especially for its precision and accuracy. The movement (mechanical), caliber 3180, measured 12 ligne, had a frequency of 18,000 vibrations per hour and had 25 jewels. The watch contained a case filled with gold, was 10-millimeter thick, with a diameter of 34.9 millimeters.
Every Grand Seiko watch was certified with a unique precision standard which was established by Seiko. Today, this standard is even stricter than the Swiss agency’s COSC’s standard for verifying chronometers.
COSC stands for Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres and it is the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute. It is responsible for certifying the accuracy and precision of wristwatches in Switzerland.
The First Grand Seiko Watch has long hands, clean dial and applied indices and it cemented the codes for design which Grand Seiko watches follow even to the present day.
6. Seiko Crown Chronograph — 1964
Considering its past achievements, it’s not shocking that the brand also was accountable for inventing the first Japanese chronograph watch. The story of this watch starts during the Olympic Games held in 1964 in the city of Tokyo where Seiko was the authorized timekeeper.
Seiko donated more than 1,200 units of different kinds of stopwatches for the Olympic timers. To honor the event, it also supplied a marketable type of its chronograph wristwatch. This watch had a monopusher system.
The Seiko Crown Chronograph measured at 38.2 millimeters in diameter, was 11.2 millimeters thick, was water-resistant up to 30 meters and had a stainless steel case. The movement was the 21-jewel caliber 5719, 12-ligne.
7. Seiko Diver’s 150M — 1965
It was only a year after Seiko released the first chronograph watch, which was Japanese manufactured, that Seiko debuted the first diver’s watch manufactured in Japan. This was the Seiko Diver’s 150M.
As implied by the name, its case made up of stainless steel was resistant to water up to 150 meters. It measured 38 millimeters in diameter and was 13.4 millimeters thick. It had a bidirectional rotating bezel which was fitted with the automatic caliber 6217 (17 jewels, 18,000 vibrations per house).
During this time period, diving was a relatively rare hobby so it was a very unique wristwatch indeed. As diving increased in popularity, the brand kept refining their watches manufactured for diving.
Seiko unveiled, in 1968, a variety with a high beat movement i.e. 300-meter water resistance and 36,000 vibrations per hour. In 1975, they released the first Diver’s watch for professionals divers and it was water-resistant up to 1000 meters. It was the first dive watch which had a titanium case.
Another type of the professional diver’s watch was released in 1986 and it was the first to feature a unidirectional bezel. This helped to increase the water-resistance as much as 1,000 meters.
The standards in-house which the brand used in its dive watches helped to establish the International Standards Organizations (ISO) standards used in dive watches. They still use them today!
8. Seiko 5 Sports Speed Timer — 1969
The year 1969 was a critical milestone for the timepiece industry because the year 1969 was nicknamed “the great automatic chronograph race.”
A number of Swiss brands including Seiko competed to be the first brand to create and produce a chronograph wristwatch which had automatic winding.
The outcome of this rivalry resulted in several watches which are today considered as icons. Examples of these watches include the Heuer Monaco, the Zenith El Primero, and the Breitling Chrono-Matic.
However, the first of these automatic chronographs which were available to buy was the Seiko’s 5 Sports Speed Timer. It was released in 1969, May to be precise.
It was the world’s first automatic chronograph watch and it was fortified with a column wheel and a vertical clutch. The 5 Sports Speed Timer included a tachymeter scale bezel, a day and date display including an innovative bilingual system and a 30 minutes counter. The bilingual system of the watch allowed wearers to set it to read in Japanese or English.
The movement caliber 6139 beats at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour while the 30-millimeter stainless steel case is water-resistant for up to 70 meters.
9. Seiko Quartz Astron — 1969
This is the year that while Seiko was ahead of the competition to release an automatic chronograph watch, they also released another watch. This watch had at a time threatened to make other watches which were also mechanical outdated.
The Seiko Quartz Astron was the first quartz wristwatch in the world and it stood for a noticeable breakthrough in terms of technology used. It had a tuning fork-shaped quartz fork-shaped oscillator which provided the movement of the Astron i.e. a Calibre 35A.
It had incredible accuracy of only +/-5 seconds every month. This was far more than any other mechanical movement.
The thin, small, stepping motor saved energy through moving the hands of the second hand just once each second. This was new progress for wristwatches.
The oscillator demonstrated itself to be quite resistant to shock while also working with quite a low voltage. This made sure the battery life lasted at least one whole year.
It’s interesting to note that these watches made of quartz were going to become popular due to their affordable price tags and would be purchased quite widely.
The first wristwatch was quite luxurious as it boasted a gold case which was 18k. As recently as 2019, this wristwatch celebrated the 50th anniversary of its release with a special memorial edition.
10. Seiko A.G.S. Kinetic — 1988
The brand didn’t stop mechanical watchmaking inventions and other types of expertise after they created their watches which were quartz. Seiko debuted a watch that was solar-powered in the year 1977. In addition, they debuted a quartz watch with hand-wound power generation during 1986.
In 1998, the brand unveiled new expertise which would assist the brand in getting ready for the new era via its Seiko Automatic Gearing System (AGS). This later was referred to as Kinetic.
It was a wristwatch that had a movement with a weight which oscillated and converted the movements of the owner’s wrist into electricity, which in turn provided power to the movement of the quartz.
11. Seiko Spring Drive Spacewalk — 2008
In 1999, Seiko unveiled new expertise into the market by releasing the first wristwatch which had a Spring Drive movement. This movement has an oscillator made of quartz but it is powered by a mainspring much like a watch that’s mechanical.
Since then, Spring Drive has been used in quite a number of wristwatches manufactured by Seiko. These include a few of the new versions of the Grand Seiko.
It’s possible that its most noteworthy duplication is in the Spring Drive Spacewalk. This was ordered specially by Richard Garriot who is a video game mogul.
His father was a NASA astronaut who wore Seiko wristwatches. His father visited the International Space Station in October 2008.
Initially, his goal, which unfortunately did not see the light of day, was to be the first civilian who walked in space. This is why this model was given its particular name. The wristwatch was specifically engineered to be used while traveling in space and Seiko made only 100 pieces.
Its gasket was designed specially. It is super airtight in cold temperatures and it has a lightweight case made of high-intensity titanium. It has a big, easily read chronograph.
In addition, the chronograph pushers which are big were created to be used easily by anyone wearing spacesuit gloves which are quite thick.
12. Seiko Astron GPS Solar — 2012
The President and CEO of Seiko named Shinji Hattori, a descendant of the original owner, sent out an unmistakable and bold message when he decided to revive the name “Astron.”
The name Astron is used for the brand’s solar-powered GPS watch. This watch was launched with a lot of florish at Baselword in the year 2012.
Similar to the first Seiko Astron which presented the world the concept of timekeeping via quartz technology, this new watch signified the launch of completely new technology. It also had the potential to change the watch technology game.
The watch is an analog watch, powered by solar energy which receives a satellite signal via GPS and alters itself to the exact local time wherever the wearer is located on the face of the earth.
The watch has the capacity to recognize every time zone (39 to be exact) and has a manual reset. It’s different from other watches running on mechanical technology as they display only 37 time zones.
The Astron covers the world first by finding its location via GPS. Next, it compares this intelligence via a database onboard database which divides the surface of the earth into 1,000, 000 squares. Every one of these squares is designated to a unique time zone.
This system is greater than those of watches controlled by radio which get terrestrial radio signals from clocks and, in most cases, these are atomic signals. This as a result of the fact that the watch automatically identifies the time zone it’s located in.
The Warranty Policy Of The Seiko Brand
Seiko has a warranty period which lets customers receive an adjustment or repair service which is free. This service according to Seiko’s website includes service against any faults on the head of the watch which includes the case and movement. It also covers any defect on the metallic band as long as it was used in accordance with the instructions.
The page dedicated to support on the website also has a detailed Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’S) section. The information page is another very useful tool if you would like to know more about the technologies used in Seiko watches. E.g. Kinetic, Spring Drive, etc.
Every subject has its dedicated page which contains information such as key features, technology and the history of the watch.
Watch owners are allowed to request if they need this service. All they need to do is present their certificate of guarantee provided by the retailer they purchased the watch from.
To learn how to value your Seiko watch, click here to read How Much Is My Seiko Watch Worth?
Here is a brief video detailing the history of Seiko watches: