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

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. 11 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" (精巧, Seikō) or "success" (成功, Seikō).

In order to avoid an ill omen believed to be associated with the word "GLORY" in Japanese, Seikosha changed its trade mark to "SEIKO" in 1924.[5] 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.[6] In 1991, to increase popularity, these watches were relaunched under the name Seiko Kinetic.[7]

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, and 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 parties.

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 practiced for luxury watches in Japan.

Seiko in the United States

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


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.[8]

Seiko Group

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 would 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 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)

Brands and product lines

Seiko produces watches with quartz, kinetic, solar, and mechanical movements of varying prices, ranging from around ¥4,000 (US$45) to ¥50,000,000 (US$554,000).[9] To separate the customer groups, Seiko has created many different brands in Japan and the international market including Lorus, Pulsar and Alba.

Seiko has several lines such as the Seiko 5,[10] luxury "Credor", "Prospex", "Presage", "Velatura" and the "Grand Seiko" series.

Seiko 5

A stainless steel Seiko 5 with grey face and 18-mm-wide leather watch strap

The Seiko 5 is not a single watch, rather a standard that many Seiko model series of mechanical watches meet since the introduction of the moniker in the 1960s.

The standard 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[clarification needed]
  5. Durable steel case and bracelet

Seiko has made many different models of "5" standard watch, including large, small, divers, steel/leather/synthetic strap, transparent or sterile case-back and many other variations.

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.

Seiko Presage

The Seiko Presage series is an all-mechanical collection, a step up from its entry level mechanical watches. It has slightly more elaborate designs and complex movements, such as urushi-lacquer dials, and self-winding movements with power reserve indicators.[11] The Presage line watches are usually priced between US$200 to US$3,000.[12]

Seiko entered a cooperation with the traditional cloisonné maker Ando Cloisonné Company from Nagoya to produce the dial for the limited edition in 2018.[13][14]

Seiko SARB

Seiko SARB030 Mechanical Watch

The Seiko SARB is their mid-range mechanical line of watches.[15] 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

The Grand Seiko logo

Birth of Grand Seiko

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 caliber, 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.[16]

Design style

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:[17]

  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


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.


Mechanical movement

In 1968, Seiko introduced three ten beat (ten 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 ten beat watch, and it was the most accurate mechanical watch due to the high beat calibers.[18] 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.[19]

In 2009, Seiko released the new ten beat caliber 9S85, which is a completely new design from 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.[20]

List of Seiko mechanical movements

Caliber Vibrations

(per hour)

Jewels Accuracy


Power reserve


4R35[21] 21,600 24 +45~-35 40 3 hands, time display (Hour, minute and second hands) and date display
4R36[22] 21,600 24 +45~-35 40 3 hands, time display (Hour, minute and second hands) and day and date display
6R15[23] 21,600 23 +25~-15 50 3 hands, time display (Hour, minute and second hands) and date display
6R20[24] 28,800 29 +25~-15 45 6 hands, time display (Hour, minute and second hands), day and date display, power reserve indicator
6R21[25] 28,800 29 +25~-15 45 6 hands, time display (Hour, minute and second hands), day and date display, power reserve indicator
6R24[26] 28,800 31 +25~-15 45 6 hands, time display (Hour, minute and second hands), day and date display, power reserve indicator
6R27[27] 28,800 29 +25~-15 45 5 hands, time display (Hour, minute and second hands), date display, power reserve indicator
6R35[28] 21,600 24 +25~-15 70 3 hands, time display (Hour, minute and second hands) and date display
7S26[29] 21,600 21 +40~-20 41 3 hands, time display (Hour, minute and second hands) and date display
7S36[30] 21,600 23 +40~-20 41 3 hands, time display (Hour, minute and second hands) and date display
8R28[31] 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[32] 28,800 26 +15~-10 50 3 hands, time display (Hour, minute and second hands) and date display
8L55[33] 36,000 37 +15~-10 55 3 hands, time display (Hour, minute and second hands) and date display

Quartz movement

On December 25, 1969, Seiko released the world's first quartz watch, the Seiko Quartz ASTRON, which marked the beginning of the quartz revolution.[34][35][36] 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 that 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

The 9F quartz movement is used in Grand Seiko quartz watches.[37]

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

The Spring Drive was announced in 1997. 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".[38] This movement achieved high accuracy with one 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 . 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.[39]

Official timekeeper

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

Olympic Games

FIFA World Cup

IAAF World Championships

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[40] and is set to continue until at least 2029.[41]

Other sponsorships

Seiko developed a digital watch styled after Venom Snake's timepiece in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain under its Wired brand. It was launched on September 2, 2015 with the Metal Gear installment. It was limited to 2,500 pieces world wide and was sold out via pre-orders within 5 minutes of launch. The box of the watch was designed by Metal Gear Solid artist Yoji Shinkawa.[42][43] Seiko is also named as the official timekeeper of the Gran Turismo racing game series, published by Sony Computer Entertainment.[44] It was also the sponsor of FC Barcelona from 2011 to 2014.[45][46]

Seiko was the official timekeeper of the North American Soccer League during the 2014 season.[47]

Seiko used to sponsor Honda F1 (previously known as BAR [British American Racing] Honda). The Honda team driver Jenson Button was the brand ambassador of Seiko. The company name only appeared on the team's clothing, Burton's helmet and on the pitstop lollipops.[48] The sponsorship lasted until the 2008 season when Honda pulled out of F1 racing.[49]

Historic Seiko watches

References and footnotes

  1. ^ Notification of change of President Seiko Holdings Corporation, April 30, 2010
  2. ^ a b "Corporate Information". Seiko. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  3. ^ "Financial Highlights" (PDF). Seiko. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  4. ^ "History of Seiko and Its Products". THE SEIKO MUSEUM. Retrieved 2017-10-14.
  5. ^ "TRADE MARKS ORDINANCE (CAP. 559) OPPOSITION TO TRADE MARK APPLICATION NO. 301488619" (PDF). Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  6. ^ Adv. "How could we fit 50 patents inside? We took out the battery". Newsweek. December 18, 1995. p. 15.
  7. ^ "Copy Swiss Replica Watches".
  8. ^ "Novak Djokovic Signs with Seiko". Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  9. ^ Credor FUGAKU GBCC999 (in Japanese)
  10. ^ "WHY "5" ? | THE SEIKO 5 STORY | SEIKO 5 SPORTS". Retrieved 2017-10-14.
  11. ^ December 08, Jack Forster; 2016. "Introducing: The Seiko Presage Automatic 60th Anniversary Limited Edition, SARW027". HODINKEE. Retrieved 2019-12-12.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ "What Is The History Of Seiko? | Automatic Watches For Men". Retrieved 2019-12-12.
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Buyer's Guide". WatchSleuth. Retrieved 2018-01-15.
  16. ^ "The History of Grand Seiko". Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  17. ^ "DESIGN | ABOUT | Grand Seiko". Retrieved 2017-12-12.
  18. ^ "Grand Seiko | SEIKO WATCH CORPORATION". Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  19. ^ "Grand Seiko Caliber 9S85". Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  20. ^ "Grand Seiko | SEIKO WATCH CORPORATION". Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ October 10, Joe Thompson; 2017. "Four Revolutions: Part 1: A Concise History Of The Quartz Revolution". HODINKEE. Retrieved 2019-03-05.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  35. ^ "The Quartz Crisis and Recovery of Swiss Watches | Relation between Timepieces and Society". THE SEIKO MUSEUM. Retrieved 2019-03-05.
  36. ^ "The Quartz Crisis". Crown & Caliber Blog. 2018-04-12. Retrieved 2019-03-05.
  37. ^ "9F Quartz | MOVEMENT | ABOUT | Grand Seiko". Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  38. ^ "SEIKO WATCH | Technology - Spring Drive". SEIKO WATCH. Retrieved 2016-10-28.
  39. ^ ""SEIKO wins the prestigious Sports Watch of 2010 award at the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève"". Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  40. ^ "Partners - Seiko". IAAF. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  41. ^ "Seiko renews its partnership with the IAAF for ten more years". Yokohama: IAAF. 10 May 2019. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  42. ^ "Watch Identifier: Seiko Wired Metal Gear Solid Watch Review". Keep The Time. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  43. ^ Espineli, Matt (November 25, 2015). "Here's What a $375 Metal Gear Solid Watch Looks Like". GameSpot. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  44. ^ "Seiko is the Official Timekeeper of the Gran Turismo Racing Series". Luxury Watches That Impress Review Blog. 1 February 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  45. ^ "SEIKO's sponsorship of FC Barcelona is celebrated in Turkey". Seiko. Istanbul. 28 May 2011. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  46. ^ "FC Barcelona to swap Seiko for Maurice Lacroix". Singapore. 11 March 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  47. ^ "NASL welcomes Seiko as official timekeeper". NASL. 11 April 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  48. ^ "Seiko extends Honda deal". AutoSport. March 1, 2006. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  49. ^ "Honda pulls out of Formula One". EuroSport. December 5, 2008. Retrieved July 29, 2020.

External links