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Seiko watches: history, innovations and best 2021 models

Seiko Watches is among the most relevant and rich-in-history brands and one of the very few vertically integrated manufacturers. It offers an uncommon combination of technologies resulting from unstoppable research and development regarding materials, quartz or mechanical movement technologies, and manufacturing processes. It is a market leader in making ISO-certified diving watches, for example. In 2020, it introduced a new grade of steel called Ever Brilliant Steel and currently offers various mechanical, quartz, or Spring Drive powered timepieces. The offering also includes the GPS-powered Astron collection. Discover the history, the milestones, and the iconic collections of the Japanese brand.


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1881: the story of Seiko begins.

Kintaro Hattori opens a watch sales and repair shop in Ginza, Tokyo. Seiko's story begins in 1881, when a young 22-year-old entrepreneur, Kintaro Hattori, opens his watch sales and repair shop in Tokyo.

kintaro-hattori-seiko-1881Only eleven years later, in 1982, he founded the "Seikosha" factory.

1913: introducing the Laurel, the first-ever wristwatch made in Japan.

Kintaro was determined to be "one step ahead" and embarked on the daunting task of creating the first ever Japanese wristwatch.

1913-seiko-laurelIn 1913 he achieved his goal by producing the Laurel. At first the company could only produce thirty to fifty watches a day but, for the first time, Kintaro had established a competitive advantage.

1924: introducing the first Seiko branded watch.

1924-first-ever-seikoThis was the first to adopt the name Seiko, presenting for the first time in the world the brand that later became synonymous with precision and accuracy, innovation and refinement.

1956: Seiko introduces "Diashock".

Impact protection is essential and Seiko's solution was the creation of the Diashock, a system that absorbs the impact on one of the most fragile parts of a mechanical watch: the pivot of the balance shaft.

1956-diashockDiashock also helps reducing friction thus ensuring an optimal balance wheel's oscillation amplitude.

1969: presentation of the caliber 6139.

As the world's first automatic chronograph with a "magic lever", column wheel and vertical clutch, this was probably the first watch of its kind in the world.

1969-seiko-6139It was a milestone in Seiko's journey to lead the chronograph making's technology.

1969: Seiko introduces the first quartz watch in history.

The Seiko Quartz Astron was presented in Tokyo on December 25, 1969. It offered unparalleled performance.

1969-seiko-quartz-astronIt had an accuracy of +/- 5 seconds per month, a hundred times more accurate than any other watch, and worked unstoppably for a year, which is 250 times longer than most mechanical watches. The quartz revolution had begun.

1983: the world's first analog quartz watch with chronograph.

The mastery of the quartz technology and watchmaking of Seiko mechanical chronographs came together in the creation of the world's first analog quartz chronograph.

1983-seiko-first-analog-quartz-watch-with-chronographCapable of measuring time up to five hundredths of a second, with intermediate time and a tachometer. Designed by the famous Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro.

1999: Seiko introduces the Spring Drive technology.

The Spring Drive movement is a Seiko's exclusive.

1999-first-seiko-spring-driveThe traditional escapement is replaced by a completely new regulator that powers non-ticking hands providing a smooth sliding movement (called "glide motion") and a precision of one second a day.

2005: Seiko presents the world's first analogue solar-powered watch with three-band radio control.

Seiko introduces analogue radio-controlled solar-powered watches capable of receiving the standard wave of three countries (Japan, United States and Germany).

2005-world-first-analogue-solar-powered-watch-with-three-band-radio-controlIt is the first device of its kind in the world.

2012: Seiko introduces Astron GPS Solar, the world's first solar-powered GPS watch.

By developing its patented energy-efficient GPS receiver, Seiko was able to create a watch that could receive GPS signals and identify time zone, date and time data using the global GPS satellite network. It recognizes all the 39 time zones on earth.

2018: Seiko wins the "Sports Watch" Prize at the Grand prix d'Horlogerie de Genève.

Seiko-gphg-2018It is the re-edition of the 1968 Seiko Diver 300m, the world's first Hi-Beat diving watch.

2019: Seiko wins the "Divers Watch" prize at the Grand prix d'Horlogerie de Genève.

Seiko-gphg-2019The Seiko Prospex LX Line wins the award for best diving watch of the year.

Seiko hands-on reviews

Here is a list of the most recent Seiko watches hands-on reviews on Horbiter®:

Seiko watch collections: an overview

The Japanese brand currently offers four main collections: Seiko Astron, Seiko Prospex, Seiko Presage, and Seiko 5 Sports. Seiko Astron includes watches exclusively equipped with satellite technology, plus the original 1969 model's reissue from which the current Astron series takes inspiration. Seiko Prospex collects products with professional specifications for use at sea, land, or air. The Seiko Presage collection includes classic mechanical timepieces, some of which enhance the Japanese brand's craftsmanship in making enamel dials. Finally, the Seiko 5 Sports collection represents the entry range to the Seiko offering and is historically a collection of watches with unmatched quality to price ratio and top-notch reliability. The latest Seiko 5 Sports have replaced the Seiko SKX007 or Seiko 007, the SKX Seiko is a must among recreational divers. 

The iconic Seiko watches

Most Seiko watches are icons in watchmaking. Among them, I'd pick the Prospex diving watches first, like the Turtle Seiko, Seiko Marinemaster, Seiko Monster, Seiko Apocalypse Now, the Seiko SLA017 (re-edition of the first diver from 1965), Seiko Tuna, or Seiko Sumo. In recent years, the Seiko Sarb, the Seiko Alpinist, and the Seiko Save the Ocean collection have also established themselves as reference points among watch aficionados. Among the discontinued ones, we would mention the Seiko Kinetic series.

Seiko watch prices

The Japanese brand has a comprehensive catalog, which includes many limited edition models too. A Seiko's retail price covers from a few hundred Euros up to several thousand Euros if you're looking for high-end diving models adopting Spring Drive technology, like the LX series, for instance.



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