Seiko is just one of those watch brands everyone loves and appreciates regardless of whether you are just starting out in your watch collection or you already have several Patek Phillippe and Rolex’ in the mix. Seiko as a watch maker is so well known across the globe for their relatively inexpensive yet iconic designs that make for great everyday watches you can wear for almost all circumstances. From their famous divers to their dressy presage line to their GMT’s, it is without a doubt a watch you can always pick and wear, enjoy and not have to think about whilst it is on your wrist. Seiko has not and will not try to beat out their Swiss watchmaking competition, however what they offer is excellent value for money and therefore it tends to usually be most people's first watch. This is an excellent choice but few know the history and evolution of Seiko, so today we are going over everything you need to know about Seiko.

Seiko, a name you could say is synonymous with innovation and precision in the world of horology especially quartz watches, boasts a rich history that spans over a century. From its humble beginnings in a small Tokyo shop to becoming a global leader in watchmaking, Seiko's journey is a testament to relentless innovation, craftsmanship, and a commitment to excellence. The brand Seiko first came to life thanks to Kintaro Hattori, a visionary entrepreneur who founded a small watch and jewellery shop in Ginza, Tokyo, in 1881. Hattori, then just 21 years old, was driven by a passion for timepieces and a keen eye for detail and wanted to create affordable watches readily available globally. His dedication soon paid off, and by 1892, he established Seikosha, a factory that started producing wall clocks and pocket watches. The name "Seikosha" translates to "House of Exquisite Workmanship," reflecting Hattori's commitment to quality and precision.

The beginnings of the Seiko watch 

Around 20 years later since Seiko first started making clocks and pocket watches, theri first wrist watch came to the market. In 1913, Seiko achieved a significant milestone by producing Japan's first wristwatch, the Laurel. This pioneering effort marked the beginning of Seiko's journey into wrist watch manufacturing, setting the stage for future innovations and giving Japan a name for itself within the world of horology. Despite the challenges of sourcing parts domestically, Seiko's commitment to self-sufficiency and excellence remained unwavering and back then they produced everything more or less from resources they had in Japan. Of course, in 2024 with factories all over the world Seiko will buy their raw materials from the most economically viable sources.

Seiko really made its name stand front and centre in the watch world with their innovation that would go on to significantly impact and shape the watch industry. Seiko's relentless pursuit of innovation led to several ground-breaking achievements in the watch industry, the main one being the first ever quartz watch. In 1969, Seiko revolutionised the watch industry with the introduction of the Seiko Quartz Astron, the world's first quartz wristwatch. This technological breakthrough offered unprecedented accuracy and reliability, setting new standards in the industry. Not to mention, with far fewer moving parts, the watches could be produced quicker and simpler which Seiko of course would capitalise on. Within a few years Seiko was producing staggering numbers of watches due to their simplistic movements. Whilst the movements may have been simple, that did not mean they did not work, if anything they were probably far more accurate than any other watches out there, which you could argue is still the case today with their quartz watches.

Seiko Astron

Source : Fratello Watches

Seiko Astron

Source : Fratello Watches

In 1986, Seiko unveiled the Kinetic watch, which converts kinetic energy from wrist movements into electrical energy. This innovation highlighted Seiko's commitment to sustainability and its prowess in developing energy-efficient technologies. Now granted this had already been created by other brands like Rolex, Omega and Tag Heuer, however Seiko would then later go on to take it a step further and build on that mechanical movement to create something rather special.

Their next big innovation came some 10 years later with the introduction of a watch movement that combined the best of both worlds, quartz and mechanical movements. The Seiko spring drive movement was introduced in 1999. This innovative movement features a unique glide-motion second hand and offers remarkable precision, reflecting Seiko's ability to blend tradition with modernity. When people talk about a ‘sweeping’ seconds hand, it does not get any better than that of Seiko’s spring drive movement watches as the frequency is so high at 32,768 Hertz (around 5000 Hertz higher than Rolex) means you get a smooth sweep of the seconds hand.

Seiko's growth extended beyond technological innovations, despite that having been their leading factor in their success. The brand expanded its product range to cater to diverse markets and preferences. In 1965, Seiko introduced its first diver's watch, the 62MAS, which laid the foundation for its reputation in producing robust and reliable dive watches. The Prospex line, launched later, quickly became a favourite among professional divers and adventure enthusiasts. In recent decades, Seiko has continued to balance tradition with innovation and took it to the next level with their sister company Grand Seiko. You can think of this relationship like Tudor and Rolex, with Seiko being the ‘Tudor’ and Grand Seiko being the ‘Rolex’. This is purely for comparison of relationships not actual products so please do not read this as Seiko are here to rival Tudor! The Grand Seiko line, originally launched in 1960, has gained acclaim for its meticulous craftsmanship and exceptional accuracy. Each Grand Seiko watch is a masterpiece, showcasing the brand's dedication to horological artistry.

Seiko Presage

Source : Beans and Bezels

Grand Seiko

Source : Time and Tide Watches

Another collection that Seiko created that has been a huge hit within the world of horology is their Presage collection which celebrates traditional Japanese craftsmanship, incorporating elements such as enamel dials and Urushi lacquer. These timepieces are a tribute to Seiko's heritage and the cultural richness of Japan which they use in creating their dressier pieces. This is what has made Seiko so successful, they not only create excellent movements but an array of different styles and designs of watches that it almost guarantees that there is Seiko perfectly made for you in their vast collection of watches. This is what has led to their rich heritage earnt as revered place in the world of watchmaking. From the pioneering Laurel to the revolutionary Quartz Astron, and the exquisite Grand Seiko, each timepiece tells a story of craftsmanship and ingenuity by the Japanese and offers a nice alternative to Swiss watchmaking. 

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High-quality Japanese production

With Seiko being a Japanese watch brand, Seiko’s primary production centre for Seiko watches is still Japan in 2024, where the brand's legacy first started. Seiko's Japanese-made watches are all created with their renowned high levels of attention to detail, and technological innovation given the value of some of their watches. The brand's more prestigious counterpart, Grand Seiko, specialises in the creation of ultra high-quality mechanical movements and exquisite finishing, which are almost all manufactured in Japan as well. Skilled artisans meticulously assemble each component, ensuring that every timepiece meets Seiko's stringent standards.

However, with Seiko being in such high demand world-wide, they could not simply produce all their watches in Japan. To put it into perspective, back in 1938 Seiko were making around 1.2 million watches a year making them one of the highest producing watchmakers of their time. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s Seiko only increased their production and produced phenomenal volumes of movements, their production went from 90 million units in 1992 to an average of 351 million units from 2000 to 2008. In 2024 today in more modern times, Seiko produces around 5 million watches a year, however what is interesting is the number of movements Seiko makes can be around 50 million. Whilst this seems almost unbelievably high, you need to remember that hundreds of other smaller watch brands all buy their movements form Seiko because they can manufacture reliable and accurate movements quickly.

Seiko Chronograph

Source : Worn and Wound

Moving on to look at some of Seiko's most famous and iconic pieces, the first one being the Seiko 5, a watch line that has really led the development of Seiko. Introduced in 1963, the Seiko 5 series became a staple for those seeking reliability and affordability. The name "Seiko 5" refers to five key attributes: automatic movement, day-date display, water resistance, recessed crown at the 4 o’clock position, and a durable case and bracelet. The Seiko 5 has become synonymous with robust, everyday watches, earning a loyal following worldwide. On a similar note, another famous dive watch from Seiko is their diver's 62MAS (model 6217) was Seiko’s first professional dive watch, released in 1965. Designed to withstand the rigours of underwater exploration, it featured a water resistance of 150 metres, a robust case, and a legible dial. This watch set the standard for future Seiko dive watches, including the iconic Prospex line, and cemented Seiko's reputation for producing reliable and durable dive timepieces.

Seiko Chronograph astron

The Seiko Astron, introduced on December 25, 1969, was a ground-breaking watch that changed the course of horology. As the world’s first quartz wristwatch, the Astron offered unprecedented accuracy, losing only five seconds per month, a feature unachievable by mechanical watches at the time. This watch marked the beginning of the quartz revolution, making precise and affordable timekeeping accessible to millions. 

Many popular watches for Seiko

Seiko Tuna

Source : Mamic

At this point it should not be a surprise that another one of Seiko’s most popular models over the decades has been another diver, the Seiko Tuna. Nicknamed "Tuna" due to its large, distinctive case, the Seiko Professional Diver's 600m (model 6159-7010) was introduced in 1975. Designed for professional saturation divers, it featured a titanium case, a unique shroud for extra protection, and a helium escape valve. The Tuna's innovative design and robustness have made it a favourite among professional divers and watch enthusiasts alike.

Jumping ahead to 1996, quite possibly the most iconic watch in their collection to date, the Seiko SKX007. The Seiko SKX007, introduced in 1996, has become one of the most beloved modern dive watches. Known for its reliability, affordability, and robust design, the SKX007 features a 200-metre water resistance, a unidirectional bezel, and a highly legible dial. It has earned a cult following among divers and watch enthusiasts, often praised as one of the best value dive watches on the market. Its classic looks are so popular and with the option of either a jubilee or oyster esque bracelet you can get yourself a perfectly designed dive watch. Moving on to the famous afford mentioned Seiko Spring Drive introduced in 1999, represents Seiko’s commitment to horological innovation. Combining the best of mechanical and quartz technologies, the Spring Drive movement features a glide-motion seconds hand powered by a mainspring, regulated by a quartz oscillator. This results in exceptional accuracy and a smooth, continuous movement of the seconds hand, setting it apart from traditional ticking watches.

Seiko Prospex

Source : Mamic

Seiko Presage Cocktails

Finally, last but most definitely not least is the newest big hit, the Seiko Presage. The Seiko Presage collection, introduced to the global market in 2016, celebrates traditional Japanese craftsmanship. Featuring elements such as enamel dials, Urushi lacquer, and intricate mechanical movements, Presage watches embody the artistry and heritage of Japanese watchmaking. The collection has garnered praise for its elegant design and attention to detail and their cocktail themed dials making them a great every day watch that can easily be worn to more formal events than say their SKX007.

And there you have it, everything you need to know about Seiko, it really is a watch brand worth every bit of attention as their history is quite impressive. Their watch models cater to so many different tastes and sizes and make for excellent watches for any sort of occasion. Everyone cannot help but smile when they see someone wearing one, they might not cost as much as the other brands but they still look great and have every bit of respect as other brands do. 

If you like the sporty, lightweight yet durable look of rubber, you've come to the right place! At ZEALANDE, we offer a wide variety of Swiss-made rubber straps designed for your Seiko watch. You can choose different colours for different looks and once fitted, you can adjust it perfectly to your wrist.