Typically, when you hear of excellently made, fine watches, you think of Swiss made watches. The nation of Switzerland has dominated the watch industry for nearly 150 years, with few competitors.
Today, we’d like to look at one of those competitors that has contributed a number of significant innovations to the watchmaking industry: Seiko.
A History of Seiko
In 1881, Kintaro Hattori opened a watch and jewelry shop in Tokyo, with the name K. Hattori. Finding some success with his timepieces, Mr. Hattori began producing clocks eleven years later, under the name of Seikosha. This term approximately translates to English as “house of exquisite workmanship.”
It wasn’t until 1924 that Seiko began producing watches. Nearly a half century later, Seiko presented the first quartz movement watch. Epson, a daughter company of Seiko, was commissioned in 1959 to make this more practical timepiece, but it took a decade to have the watch available to the public. They did, however, have a working prototype ready in time for the 1964 Olympics, and this watch was used for the Tokyo Summer Olympics for time keeping.
This first model quartz movement watch was called the Seiko 35 SQ Astron. At the time it came out, it cost roughly the same as a medium sized car did.
The Astron was released on December 25th 1969, and was, at the time, the world’s most accurate wristwatch.
Interestingly enough, multiple nations were involved in the development of the quartz movement watch, which prevented any one company or group from patenting the entire movement. This meant that no one company held the quartz watch movement in total exclusivity, and other companies could produce this accurate timekeeper.
Other innovations from Seiko in the watch industry include:
- The world’s first six-digit LCD quartz watch, released in 1973
- The world’s first multi-function digital watch, released in 1975
- The world’s first TV watch, released in 1982
- The world’s first voice recording watch, released in 1983
- The world’s first quartz chronograph watch, released in 1983
- The world’s first watch with data storage, released in 1984
- The world’s first kinetic wristwatch, released in 1988
Seiko Watch Collections
With a number of world’s firsts from Seiko, and that same continued innovation and excellence, Seiko has been competing with the Swiss watchmakers for decades. While not all Seiko watches will cost the average person a few months’ salary, they do, of course, have high end watches that most people can’t shell out the cash for.
Seiko watch collections range from the very reasonably priced lines that most westerners can afford, to the very pricey watches that most of us hope to some day afford. Here’s a basic run down of those collections.
Seiko Watches for Men
Each line within the Astron collection has a different purpose and function for these already practical watches.
- Executive Sports Line
- Executive Line
- 8X Series Duel Time
- 8X Series Chronograph
- 8X Series Big Date
- 8X Series World Time
The two lines within the Pressage collection offer attractive, practical watches with limited complications.
- Prestige Line
- Basic Line
This is the adventurer’s collection from Seiko. Whether you’re a pilot, a sailor, or a wilderness wandered, one of these 30 plus watches is likely to meet your need. The watches in this practical line up of Seiko watches range from the lower-median price range to the medium-upper end of Seiko’s prices.
The Coutura collection from Seiko offers a variety of complications on seventeen different models, in a mid-price range watch. These watches are attractive, but designed for practical every day use.
- Men’s Radio Sync Solar
- Men’s Solar
- Men’s Mechanical
The Grand Seiko Collection
The Grand Seiko watch collection is the higher end of Seiko’s watches for men. These watches compete with elegantly made Swiss watches like Rolex, and Omega. There are three lines within the Grand Seiko collection, each offering unique, attractive features distinct from each other.
The Seiko Premier
The Seiko Premier watch is a mid-range mechanical movement watch for men, with an automatic winding mechanism, and a 10-bar water resistance. While it may not cost as much as some of the other offerings from Seiko, the Premier is an elegant, high quality timepiece.
Seiko Watches for Women
The only women’s watch series in the Coutura collection is the Ladies Solar watch line with four styles, all of which should be under $500 apiece. Each watch in this lineup runs on solar power, and has a 10 bar water resistance.
The one exclusive line for women from Seiko, the Diamond collection offers four styles made from stainless steel with a mother of pearl dial.
An Innovative Option
If you’re interested in a well-made watch with a history of excellence and innovation behind its making, but you’re interested in considering something other than the Swiss watches we hear about so much, Seiko is a great brand to investigate.