What are Seiko watches famous for?

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Written By Dominic Howard

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For over a century, Seiko has been at the forefront of watchmaking innovation and technology. Based in Tokyo, Japan, Seiko has brought several significant advancements to the world of horology and established itself as one of the most respected names in watches.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the history of Seiko, examine some of their key innovations and technologies, discuss their most iconic watch collections, and look at why Seiko remains a pioneering force in the watch industry.

Seiko watches are famous for

Seiko is one of the most well-known Japanese watch brands. Founded in 1881 in Tokyo, Seiko has a long history of innovative watchmaking.

Seiko is famous for being the first company to develop the quartz watch movement in 1969. This revolutionary technology allowed Seiko to produce accurate and affordable timepieces. Seiko quartz watches transformed the watch industry in the 1970s and 1980s.

Another area where Seiko excelled is in dive watches. In 1965, Seiko introduced its first dive watch, known as the Seiko 62MAS. It had an automatic movement and 150m water resistance. Seiko continued refining dive watch technology over the decades, releasing iconic models like the Seiko Tuna, a heavy-duty quartz diver.

The Early Days

Seiko’s origins go back to 1881 when Kintarō Hattori opened a watch and jewelry shop called ‘K. Hattori’ in Tokyo. Hattori started by repairing and selling foreign-made watches. Eleven years later, in 1892, he began producing clocks under the ‘Seikosha’ brand. ‘Seikosha’ means ‘House of Exquisite Workmanship’ in Japanese.

It wasn’t until 1924 that Hattori produced his first wristwatch, several years after the introduction of the wristwatch in the early 20th century. As demand grew for reliable and accurate wristwatches, Seiko’s production increased.

In 1937, the company produced it’s first entirely in-house designed and constructed wristwatch called ‘Laurel’. This marked the start of Seiko’s journey to becoming a fully integrated manufacturer with the capability to design and produce all components in-house.

Pioneering Firsts

Seiko has brought several ‘world firsts’ to the watch industry:

  • First Miniature Television Watch (1959) – Seiko created the world’s first portable TV watch, the Seiko TV Watch. It had a tiny 1.2-inch CRT display.
  • First Quartz Watch (1969) – The Seiko Astron 35SQ was the first production quartz wristwatch. It revolutionized watchmaking by bringing new levels of accuracy through quartz technology.
  • First Kinetic Watch (1986) – Seiko’s AGS integrated an automatic rotor and rechargeable battery, converting motion into electrical energy to eliminate manual winding.
  • First Spring Drive Watch (1999) – Spring Drive combined the precision of quartz with the beauty of a mechanical watch.

These are just some of Seiko’s pioneering achievements in watch technology spanning over a century of innovations.

Japanese Perfection and Precision

Seiko has always embodied the Japanese virtues of perfectionism and precision. Their innovations weren’t just about being first, but being the best.

For instance, the introduction of quartz technology could have meant cheap mass production of watches. But that didn’t satisfy Seiko’s unrelenting standards. They focused on miniaturization and accuracy, developing quartz movements that were both small and precise.

Later, they invented the 9F quartz caliber that is accurate to 10 seconds per year, an amazing achievement. That’s why ‘Quartz’ means something different for Seiko – it stands for quartz watches engineered to perfection.

The same pursuit of perfection is seen in their mechanical watches. Each Grand Seiko watch passes excellence benchmarks that only a small percentage of Swiss luxury watches meet. Their proprietary Spring Drive movement achieves the high precision of quartz with no battery, marrying Japanese craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology.

This uniquely Japanese approach of precision along with dedication to craftsmanship is why Seiko remains in a league of its own when it comes to innovation.

Iconic Technologies

Let’s look at some of Seiko’s iconic watch technologies that changed watchmaking forever:

Quartz – Seiko commercialized quartz wristwatches with the Astron in 1969. The accuracy and affordability of quartz movements caused a ‘quartz crisis’ in Switzerland as they took over the market. Seiko quartz movements set new standards for precision.

Kinetic – In 1986, Seiko launched the first quartz analog watch with automatic winding called AGS (Automatic Generating System). The Kinetic technology generated electricity from the motion of the wearer’s wrist to recharge the battery, eliminating manual winding.

Perpetual Calendar – In 1988, Seiko premiered the world’s first Perpetual Calendar quartz watch that required no correction until 2100. It displays the correct date for every month including leap years automatically.

Spring Drive – This revolutionary movement from 1999 combined classic automatic winding with the precision of quartz regulation. With a smooth sweep seconds hand instead of jumpy ticks, Spring Drive redefined mechanical watchmaking.

Hi-Beat – In 1968, Seiko released the hi-beat automatic 3Hz movements that vibrated at 36,000bph, 50% faster than conventional movements for better accuracy. The Grand Seiko hi-beat movements are still acclaimed for their precision.

Each of these inventions was a significant milestone that steered the progress of modern watchmaking. Seiko continues that innovative spirit even today.

Notable Seiko Watch Collections

Spanning everyday excellence to luxurious masterpieces, some of Seiko’s most notable watch lines are:

Seiko 5 – Introduced in 1963, the Seiko 5 collection consists of robust, reliable automatic watches that offer great value. The ‘5’ stands for the 5 qualities – automatic winding, water resistance, day/date displayed, recessed crown, durable case, and bracelet. Generations have owned their first mechanical watch in the form of a Seiko 5.

Presage – Representing Seiko’s Japanese aesthetic and craftsmanship, Presage includes both automatic dresses watches with exotic dials as well as high-end enamel and lacquer dial watches with Spring Drive movements. The Cocktail Time is the most popular series, renowned for its sunburst dials.

Alpinist – Beloved among watch enthusiasts, the Alpinist line features rugged watches built for the outdoors. With impressive water resistance, compass inner bezels, and green dial designs, Alpinists have a cult following among collectors.

Prospex – As the name suggests (‘Professional Specifications’), Prospex incorporates Seiko’s dive, aviation, and field watches built to meet the demands of professional use. The divers – Sumo, Turtle, Samurai, MM300, and Marinemaster all have solid reputations.

Grand Seiko – At the peak of watchmaking art sits Grand Seiko, founded in 1960. Grand Seiko represents the best of Seiko’s innovations in design, material, and movement. Luxurious, precise, and impeccably finished, Grand Seiko competes with the finest Swiss and German watches.

This is just a snippet of Seiko’s most admired watch lines. Every series, at various price points, preserves Seiko’s heritage of great watchmaking.

The Spirit of Seiko

Beyond just achievements and records, there is a spirit that defines Seiko’s ethos as a watch manufacturer:

  • Mastery of Technology – Having always thrived on innovation, Seiko has mastered watch technologies both old and new. Mechanical, quartz, Spring Drive – Seiko creates excellence through technology
  • Japanese Aesthetics – From subtle textures to minimalist designs inspired by Japanese art, Seiko infuses aesthetic subtlety into its watches along with technical brilliance.
  • Accuracy & Precision – Seiko’s constant pursuit of perfection and accuracy reflects the Japanese attention to detail. Their timekeeping standards exceed most Swiss watches.
  • Value & Accessibility – At every price bracket, Seiko aims to over-deliver value, unlike overpriced luxury brands. Their innovations also create new categories, like the affordable luxury of Presage and mid-tech Spring Drive.
  • Purpose-Built – Seiko makes real tool watches designed for professional use (Prospex), reliability (Seiko 5), and outdoor adventures (Alpinist) rather than just jewelry.

This spirit of dedicating advanced technology to create practical, beautiful, precision timepieces is what distinguishes Seiko from just another watch brand.

The Future of Seiko

As Seiko celebrates its 140th anniversary in 2021, what does the future hold for this pioneer?

Seiko continues to innovate. Their newest watch movement, the 6L35 introduced in 2019 for the Presage collection, displays the precision (6 beats per second), smooth winding, and durability that Seiko is renowned for.

We will see more evolution in Spring Drive technology for even better accuracy and sustainability. Seiko remains at the forefront of quartz regulation too – the 8J55 high-torque quartz movement released in 2021 promises five times better torque than conventional quartz movements.

Along with technical progress, Seiko will bring their Japanese design philosophy to even more diverse creations. The Presage collection already represents the essence of Japanese aesthetics in contemporary watch designs. Grand Seiko too has evolved its signature Japanese styles – contrasting brushed and polished finishes, subtle curved grooves on dials, elegant hands, and markers.

As a vertically integrated manufacturer – making everything from hairsprings to cases in-house – Seiko will continue pursuing perfection across all aspects of watchmaking.

While Swiss luxury brands rely on brand image and marketing, Seiko wins hearts by delivering substance – real innovations that enhance the joy of watch ownership. The same spirit of ‘Exquisite Workmanship’ that Kintarō Hattori started the company in 1881 continues to drive Seiko today.

Seiko – The Japanese Art of Time

For over a century, Seiko has been writing watchmaking history. Their pioneering innovations, technological mastery, endless pursuit of precision, and uniquely Japanese aesthetics make Seiko one of the greatest watch brands in horology.

But more than just records and achievements, Seiko represents the Japanese ideals of perfection, elegance, and excellence in craftsmanship. Their watches encapsulate the Japanese appreciation of minimalism, nature, science, and beauty.

From the affordable reliable Seiko 5 to the Grand Seiko that competes with the Swiss luxury elite, the world-famous Japanese brand has stayed true to its spirit of creating exquisite timepieces.

As Seiko continues to innovate and refine the technology and art of timekeeping, for many more decades, they will keep inspiring watch lovers around the world by saying – Made in Japan, by Seiko.

Frequently Asked Question

1. What is Seiko known for in the world of watches?

Seiko is renowned for its precision, innovation, and craftsmanship in the watchmaking industry. They are particularly famous for their contributions to quartz technology and the production of high-quality timepieces.

2. What is Seiko’s history in watchmaking?

Seiko has a rich history dating back to 1881. They are known for producing Japan’s first wristwatch and have continued to innovate in the field, pioneering various watch technologies.

3. Are Seiko watches known for their accuracy?

Yes, Seiko watches are highly regarded for their accuracy. They have a strong reputation for producing quartz and mechanical watches that keep precise time.

4. What are Seiko’s contributions to quartz technology?

Seiko played a pivotal role in the development of quartz watches. They introduced the world’s first quartz wristwatch, the Seiko Astron, in 1969, revolutionizing the watch industry with its accuracy and affordability.

5. What are Seiko’s mechanical watches famous for?

Seiko’s mechanical watches are celebrated for their craftsmanship and durability. They offer a wide range of mechanical movements, including automatic and hand-winding, known for their reliability.

6. Are Seiko watches considered affordable or high-end?

Seiko offers watches in a range of price points, from affordable models to high-end luxury pieces. This versatility is one of the reasons for their widespread popularity.

7. Are Seiko watches suitable for diving and sports activities?

Yes, Seiko has a strong reputation for producing dive watches, such as the Seiko Prospex series, which are highly regarded for their durability and water resistance.

8. Do Seiko watches have a unique design aesthetic?

Seiko watches often feature a distinctive and diverse design aesthetic, appealing to a wide range of tastes. They offer classic, sporty, and modern styles.

9. Are Seiko watches collectible?

Yes, Seiko watches have a dedicated collector’s community. Some vintage Seiko models are highly sought after and can be appreciated in value over time.

10. Where can I purchase authentic Seiko watches?

Authentic Seiko watches are available at authorized Seiko retailers, jewelry stores, and reputable online marketplaces. Be cautious of counterfeit products and ensure you buy from a trusted source.


Seiko watches are renowned for their remarkable blend of precision, innovation, and craftsmanship. With a history dating back to the late 19th century, Seiko has consistently pushed the boundaries of watchmaking, leaving an indelible mark on the industry. From pioneering quartz technology with the Seiko Astron to crafting reliable mechanical timepieces, Seiko has earned a reputation for accuracy and durability. Whether you’re seeking a dive watch for adventurous pursuits or an elegant piece for everyday wear, Seiko offers a diverse range of styles to suit all tastes. Their commitment to sustainability and responsible manufacturing further adds to their appeal. As a brand that combines affordability with high-end luxury, Seiko continues to captivate watch enthusiasts and collectors worldwide, making them famous for their enduring commitment to quality and innovation in the world of watches.

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