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Seiko Holdings Corporation
Native name
Public (K.K)
Traded asTYO: 8050
IndustryWatch Manufacturing, Precision Instruments, Machinery, Fashion Accessories, Optics
FoundedChūō, Tokyo, Japan
1881; 138 years ago (1881)
(incorporated in 1917)
FounderKintaro Hattori
Headquarters1-26-1 Ginza, Chūō, Tokyo, Japan
(Officially registered at 4-5-11 Ginza, Chūō, Tokyo, Japan)
Key people
Shinji Hattori, Chairman and CEO[1]
ProductsWatches, Electronic Devices, Systems Solutions, Clocks, High End Apparel, Fashion Accessories and System Clocks, Printers, Integrated Circuits, Lenses
RevenueRed Arrow Down.svg ¥257.1 billion (FY2016, consolidated)[2]
Number of employees
13,065 (March 31, 2017, consolidated)[3]
ParentSeiko Group
  • Seiko Watch Corporation
  • Seiko Instruments INC.
  • Seiko Precision INC.
  • Seiko NPC Corporation
  • Seiko Solutions INC.
  • Seiko Clock INC.
  • Wakoco., LTD.
  • Seiko Time Systems INC.
  • Seiko Optical Products CO., LTD.
WebsiteSeiko Holdings Corporation

Seiko Holdings Corporation (セイコーホールディングス株式会社, Seikō Hōrudingusu Kabushiki-gaisha), commonly known as Seiko (/ˈsk/ SAY-koh, Japanese: [seːkoː]), is a Japanese holding company that has subsidiaries which manufactures and sells watches, clocks, electronic devices, semiconductors, jewelries, and optical products.

History and development[edit]

The company was founded in 1881,[4] when Kintarō Hattori opened a watch and jewelry shop called "K. Hattori" (服部時計店, Hattori Tokeiten) in the Ginza area of Tokyo, Japan. Eleven years later, in 1892, he began to produce clocks under the name Seikosha (, Seikōsha), meaning roughly "House of Exquisite Workmanship". According to Seiko's official company history, titled "A Journey In Time: The Remarkable Story of Seiko" (2003), Seiko is a Japanese word meaning "exquisite" or "success" ("exquisite" is usually written from Chinese jīngqiǎo, while the meaning "success" is usually written from Chinese chénggōng).

The first watches produced under the Seiko brand appeared in 1924. In 1969, Seiko introduced the Astron, the world's first production quartz watch; when it was introduced, it cost the same as a medium-sized car. Seiko later went on to introduce the first quartz chronograph.

In the late 1980s, Seiko produced the first automatic quartz that combined the self-energizing attributes of an automatic watch with quartz accuracy; the watch is entirely powered by its movement in everyday wear.[5] In 1991, to increase popularity, these watches were relaunched under the name Seiko Kinetic.[6]

In 1985, Orient and Seiko established a joint factory.

The company was incorporated (K. Hattori & Co., Ltd.) in 1917 and was renamed Hattori Seiko Co., Ltd. in 1983 and Seiko Corporation in 1990. After reconstructing and creating its operating subsidiaries (such as Seiko Watch Corporation and Seiko Clock Inc.), it became a holding company in 2001 and was renamed Seiko Holdings Corporation as of July 1, 2007.

Seiko is perhaps best known for its wristwatches, all of which were at one time produced entirely in-house; this includes not only major items such as microgears, motors, hands, crystal oscillators, batteries, sensors, LCDs but also minor items such as the oils used in lubricating the watches and the luminous compounds used on the hands and the dials. Seiko watches were originally produced by two different subsidiaries. One was Daini Seikosha Co.,(now known as Seiko Instruments Inc.), and the other was Suwa Seikosha Co.(now known as Seiko Epson Corporation). Having two companies both producing the same brand of watch enabled Seiko to improve technology through competition and hedge risk, it also reduced risk of production problems, since one company can increase production in the case of decreased production in the other party.

Currently watch movements are made in Shizukuishi, Iwate (SII Morioka Seiko Instruments), Ninohe, Iwate (SII Ninohe Tokei Kogyo), Shiojiri, Nagano (Seiko Epson) and their subsidiaries in China, Malaysia and Singapore; the fully integrated in-house production system is still practised for luxury watches in Japan.

Brands and product lines[edit]

Seiko produces watches with quartz, kinetic, solar, and mechanical movements of varying prices, ranging from around ¥4,000 (US$45) (sold under the brand Alba) to ¥50,000,000 (US$554,000).[7] To separate the customer groups, Seiko has created many different brands in Japan and the international market.

Seiko has several lines such as the Seiko 5,[8] luxury "Credor", "Prospex", "Presage" and the "Grand Seiko" series.

Seiko 5[edit]

A stainless steel Seiko 5 SNK805 with green face and 18mm wide NATO watch strap.

Seiko 5 was created to be a watch whose performance would serve the demanding needs of the 1960s generation, who cared less for tradition and more about life.

The watch gets its name from incorporating five key attributes:

  1. Automatic winding
  2. Day/date displayed in a single window - rare at the time.
  3. Water resistance
  4. A display caseback
  5. Durable steel case and bracelet

To keep cost down, the Seiko 5 models using 7S movement don't have hand winding or hack abilities.

Seiko SARB[edit]

Seiko SARB030 Mechanical Watch

The Seiko SARB is their mid-range mechanical line of watches,[9] they use the Seiko 6R15 movement.

Some of the examples of the SARB line are SARB033, SARB035, SARB017, SARB065 etc... as well as some of the rarer SARB013, SARB015, SARB031, SARB072.

Grand Seiko[edit]

The Grand Seiko logo.

Birth of Grand Seiko[edit]

Grand Seiko SBGA011 with 9R Spring Drive movement

Prior to 1960, to challenge the status of Swiss watches and change the perception of Japanese watches, Daini Seikosha and Suwa began the discussion of a product line that can match the quality of Swiss watches under the suggestion of the parent company. At the time, Suwa Seikosha Co. was in charge of manufacturing men's watches, so it was decided that Suwa would be producing the first Grand Seiko (GS).

The first Grand Seiko was released in 1960, it was based on Seiko's previous high-end watch, CROWN; this Grand Seiko has a 25-jewel, manual-winding, 3180 calibre, and only 36,000 units were produced. This was also the first Chronometer grade watch manufactured in Japan, and it was based on Seiko's own chronometer standard.[10]

Design style[edit]

The design language of the Grand Seiko was set in 1967, with the creation of Grand Seiko 44GS; the 44GS set the ground for all future Grand Seiko with nine elements. These elements help improve the legibility of the watch under different situations, and create a sharp, crisp visual impression:[11]

  1. Double width index at 12 o'clock
  2. Multi-faceted rectangular markers
  3. Highly polished bezel
  4. Highly polished planes and two-dimensional surface
  5. Half recessed crown
  6. Flat dial
  7. Multi-faceted hour and minute hands
  8. Curved side line
  9. Reverse slanted bezel wall and case side
  10. Dress style with simple but beautiful design
  11. Zaratsu polishing


Mechanical movement[edit]

In 1968, Seiko introduced three 10 beat (10 ticks per second) calibers, the automatic caliber 61GS, the manual winding 45GS and 19GS for women's watch; the 61GS was Japan's first automatic 10 beat watch, and it was the most accurate mechanical watch due to the high beat calibers.[12] The calibers are considered high beat because normal mechanical movements beat six to eight times per second, and higher beat makes the watch more resistant to shock, thus achieving the high accuracy.[13]

In 2009, Seiko released the new 10 beat caliber 9S85, which is a completely new designed of the previous high beat caliber; the new caliber also met the Grand Seiko Standard, a chronometer certification that the company claims to be more strict than the Chronometer Certificate in Switzerland.[14]

List of Seiko mechanical movements

Caliber Vibrations

(per hour)

Jewels Accuracy


Power reserve


6R15 21,600 23 +25~-15 50 3 hands, time display (Hour, minute and second hands) and date display
6R20 28,800 29 +25~-15 45 6 hands, time display (Hour, minute and second hands), day and date display, power reserve indicator
6R21 28,800 29 +25~-15 45 6 hands, time display (Hour, minute and second hands), day and date display, power reserve indicator
6R24 28,800 31 +25~-15 45 6 hands, time display (Hour, minute and second hands), day and date display, power reserve indicator
6R27 28,800 29 +25~-15 45 5 hands, time display (Hour, minute and second hands), date display, power reserve indicator
8R48 28,800 34 +25~-15 45 6 hands, time display (Hour, minute and small second hands), stopwatch display (Hour, minute and second hands) and date display
8L35 28,800 26 +15~-10 50 3 hands, time display (Hour, minute and second hands) and date display
8L55 36,000 37 +15~-10 55 3 hands, time display (Hour, minute and second hands) and date display

Quartz movement[edit]

On December 25, 1969, Seiko released the world’s first quartz watch, the Seiko Quartz ASTRON, which marked the beginning of the quartz revolution;[15][16][17] the watch uses a crystal oscillator for accuracy, where the crystal generates steady vibration when voltage is applied to it. During the ten years of development at Suwa Seikosha, Seiko managed to create many parts which enabled the viable application of quartz in wristwatches. For example, Seiko cut the crystal oscillator into the shape of a tuning-fork, and developed an integrated circuit and step motor to operate with the signals from the crystal oscillator.

First commercial quartz watch, only 100 copies sold in Tokyo on Christmas 1969.
Quartz wristwatch Astron Cal. 35A, Seiko, Japan, 1969

Although creating the parts that enabled quartz watches, Seiko did not monopolize the patent rights for the unique pieces, but decided to open them.

In 1973, Seiko announced the world’s first LCD quartz watch with six-digit digital display.

In 1975, Seiko launched the world’s first multi-function digital watch, the 0634.

In 1978, Seiko released the Twin Quartz watch to address the impact of temperature on the frequency of the quartz crystal oscillator, which put a limitation on the accuracy of quartz watches. Seiko put a second crystal in the watch that is linked with a processor which detects the change in temperature and signals the main oscillator to compensate; the result was a huge improvement in the watch’s accuracy from 5 seconds per month to 5 seconds per year.

In 1988, Seiko combined automatic and electric watches, creating the Seiko Kinetic, a movement that is powered by the movements of the user, converting the energy to electricity for the quartz movement.

Grand Seiko 9F quartz movement[edit]

The 9F quartz movement is used in Grand Seiko quartz watches.[18]

The Grand Seiko's 9F quartz movement is assembled entirely by hand by two expert craftsmen.

Features include:

Backlash Auto-Adjust Mechanism.

Twin Pulse Control Motor.

Instant Date Change Mechanism: It can change the date display in 1/2000th of a second.

Spring Drive[edit]

In 2005, the Seiko Spring Drive was announced, it was developed by Yoshikazu Akahane and his team and inspired by Yoshikazu’s vision: "a watch wound by a mainspring and with one-second-a-day accuracy, a precision that only the finest electronic watches could deliver".[19] This movement achieved high accuracy with 1 second per day, long power reserve (72 hours) with its special developed alloy, fast winding with the "Magic Lever" design and glide-motion movement with the watch hands.

The movement uses a mainspring as a source of energy and transmits it through a gear train, just like a traditional mechanical watch, but instead of an escapement and balance wheel, Seiko used the newly developed "Tri-synchro regulator", which acts like a quartz movement; the Tri-synchro regulator has three main functions: controlling the mechanical energy of the mainspring, generate electricity for the low consumption (~25 nanowatts) quartz crystal oscillator and generate a magnetic force to regulate the glide wheel. By replacing the traditional escapement with a magnetic brake, the Spring Drive operates with lower noise and presents a glide motion hand that shows the continuous flow of time; the Spring Drive movement was also used as the basis for the first-ever watch designed to be worn by an astronaut during a space walk, the aptly named Seiko Spring Drive Spacewalk.[20]

Seiko in the United States[edit]

Seiko Corporation of America is responsible for the distribution of Seiko watches and clocks, as well as Pulsar and Lorus brand watches, in the United States; the models available in the United States are normally a smaller subset of the full line produced in Japan. Seiko Corporation of America has its headquarters (and Coserv repair center) in Mahwah, New Jersey. In the United States, Seiko watches are sold primarily by fine jewelers and department stores as well as 19 company stores located in various cities.

Pulsar Montre 4

Moon watch[edit]

NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz wore a Seiko 5 model 6119-8460 during the height of his career, it was on his wrist when the Apollo 11 crew touched down on the lunar surface, when the Apollo 13 explosion occurred, and throughout the remainder of his career at NASA. The watch was recently sold and is still in working order.


On Friday January 10, 2014 on the eve of the Australian Open in Melbourne, Shinji Hattori, President of Seiko Watch Corporation, presented to Novak Djokovic a Seiko 5 limited edition worth $1700, it was launched worldwide with a million units, symbolizing Seiko's partnership with the world's no.1 professional tennis player.[21]

Official timekeeper[edit]

Seiko has been the official timekeeper of many major sporting events:

Olympic Games[edit]

FIFA World Cup[edit]

IAAF World Championships[edit]

Currently, Seiko has an agreement with the International Association of Athletics Federations to act as the timekeeper for the latest editions of the IAAF World Championships in Athletics; the agreement started in 1985[22] and is set to continue until at least 2019.[23]

Other sponsorships[edit]

Seiko created a digital watch styled after Venom Snake's timepiece in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Seiko is also named as the official timekeeper of the Gran Turismo racing game series, published by Sony Computer Entertainment, it was also the sponsor of FC Barcelona from 2011 to 2014.[24][25]

Seiko was the official timekeeper of the North American Soccer League during the 2014 season.[26]

Seiko used to sponsor Honda F1 (previously known as BAR [British American Racing] Honda); the Seiko name cannot currently be found on the Honda racing cars because Seiko Japan refused to be advertised whilst the names of tobacco companies are still appearing on the cars. They can, however, be found on the lollipop used in the pitlane.

Historic Seiko watches[edit]


  • Seiko Watch Corporation — Planning for watches and other products and domestic and overseas sales
  • Seiko Nextage Co., Ltd. — watches: Alba and licensed brand watches
  • Seiko Clock Inc. — Development, manufacturing and sales of clocks (desk clocks, wall clocks, alarm clocks)
  • Seiko Service Center Co., Ltd. — repair and after service for watches
  • Seiko Time Systems Inc. — Sale and incidental installation work for system clocks, varied information display equipment and sports timing equipment, as well as timing and measurement services for various sports
  • Seiko Precision Inc. — Manufacturing/sales for electronic devices, shutters for cameras and peripherals, and production equipment
  • Seiko NPC Corporation — Development, manufacturing and marketing of integrated circuits (IC)
  • Seiko Solutions Inc. — Development, manufacturing, sales, maintenance, services and consultations for the hardware and the software relating with information systems and network services
  • Seiko Optical Products Co., Ltd. — Wholesale marketing of lenses and frames for glasses along with other optical-related products
  • Seiko Instruments Inc. — Development, manufacturing and sales of watches, precision components and machine tools, electronic components, printers, measurement and analysis instruments
  • Wako Co., Ltd. — Sales of watches, jewelry, accessories, interior supplies, art goods and crafts, glasses and foodstuffs
  • Cronos Inc. — retail sales of watches, jewelry items and eyeglasses
  • Seiko Business Services Inc. — human resources
  • Ohara Inc. (Seiko owns 32.2% TYO: 5218) — specialty optical glass (glass materials for lenses and prisms)

Seiko Group[edit]

Seiko Holdings is one of the three core companies of the Seiko Group; the Seiko Group consists of Seiko Holdings Corporation (Seiko), Seiko Instruments Inc. (SII), and Seiko Epson Corporation (Epson). Although they have some common shareholders, including the key members of the Hattori family (posterity of Kintarō Hattori), the three companies in the Seiko Group are not affiliated, they are managed and operated completely independently. Seiko Watch, an operating subsidiary of Seiko Holdings, markets Seiko watches, while SII and Epson manufacture their movements.

On January 26, 2009, Seiko Holdings and Seiko Instruments announced that the two companies will be merged on October 1, 2009 through a share swap. Seiko Instruments became a wholly owned subsidiary of Seiko Holdings as of October 1, 2009.


Seiko produces electronic devices as well. During the 1980s, the company produced a notable range of digital synthesizers, such as the DS-250, for use in electronic music. Today the music division (part of Seiko Life Sports) produces metronomes and tuning devices.

See also[edit]

References and footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Notification of change of President Seiko Holdings Corporation, April 30, 2010
  2. ^ "Financial Highlights".
  3. ^ "Corporate Information".
  4. ^ "History of Seiko and Its Products". THE SEIKO MUSEUM. Retrieved 2017-10-14.
  5. ^ Adv. "How could we fit 50 patents inside? We took out the battery". Newsweek. December 18, 1995. p. 15.
  6. ^ "Copy Swiss Replica Watches".
  7. ^ Credor FUGAKU GBCC999 ‹See Tfd›(in Japanese)
  8. ^ "WHY "5" ? | THE SEIKO 5 STORY | SEIKO 5 SPORTS". Retrieved 2017-10-14.
  9. ^ "Buyer's Guide". WatchSleuth. Retrieved 2018-01-15.
  10. ^ "The History of Grand Seiko". Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  11. ^ "DESIGN | ABOUT | Grand Seiko". Retrieved 2017-12-12.
  12. ^ "Grand Seiko | SEIKO WATCH CORPORATION". Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  13. ^ "Grand Seiko Caliber 9S85". Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  14. ^ "Grand Seiko | SEIKO WATCH CORPORATION". Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  15. ^ October 10, Joe Thompson; 2017. "Four Revolutions: Part 1: A Concise History Of The Quartz Revolution". HODINKEE. Retrieved 2019-03-05.
  16. ^ "The Quartz Crisis and Recovery of Swiss Watches | Relation between Timepieces and Society". THE SEIKO MUSEUM. Retrieved 2019-03-05.
  17. ^ "The Quartz Crisis". Crown & Caliber Blog. 2018-04-12. Retrieved 2019-03-05.
  18. ^ "9F Quartz | MOVEMENT | ABOUT | Grand Seiko". Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  19. ^ "SEIKO WATCH | Technology - Spring Drive". SEIKO WATCH. Retrieved 2016-10-28.
  20. ^ ""SEIKO wins the prestigious Sports Watch of 2010 award at the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève"". Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  21. ^ "Novak Djokovic Signs with Seiko". Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  22. ^ "Partners - Seiko". IAAF. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  23. ^ "IAAF and Seiko extend partnership to 2019". IAAF. Monaco. 5 March 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  24. ^ "SEIKO's sponsorship of FC Barcelona is celebrated in Turkey". Seiko. Istanbul. 28 May 2011. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  25. ^ "FC Barcelona to swap Seiko for Maurice Lacroix". Singapore. 11 March 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  26. ^ "NASL welcomes Seiko as official timekeeper". NASL. 11 April 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2017.

External links[edit]