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It’s no small task to be one of the most popular watch brands of the last 100-plus years, and it is certainly something to behold that Seiko both excels and takes pride in doing just that. It has been one of the foremost innovators in the business, given that it was one of the first to introduce wristwatches, chronographs, automatic movements and titanium dive watches to the world. With the release of its Astron collection, Seiko continues to be in the driver’s seat of the bus taking the watch trade through the 21st Century.
In an industry that's seen thousands of companies come and go, Seiko has been one of the world's top watch brands for more than a century.
Originally instituted as a trading company for Swiss watches in Tokyo by Kintaro Hattori in 1881, the Seikosha Company (later renamed Seiko) actually didn’t start producing watches until 1913.
After the success of its wall clocks and pocket watches, Seiko started engineering wrist watches just after the turn of the 20th century, and the popularity of their timepieces cannot be understated. Rather than giving the public what they desired, Seiko continued to innovate and began to build and sell automatic watches as early as 1955. In 1960, it launched the Grand Seiko collection which was considered one of the best watches anyone could buy alongside the hailed Rolex and Omega brands.
Seiko also later invented a 36,000 A/h “Hi Beat” chronometer as well as a high accuracy quartz movement it dubbed the “Spring Drive”. Pairing these two technological advances together within many of its watches, Seiko continued to be ahead of the horological industry curve. It manufactured one of the world’s first titanium dive watches in 1975 and launched a new brand in 1977 that would soon achieve much similar success called Pulsar. Seiko continued its dominance by winning multiple awards and serving as the official timekeeper for numerous world events like the Olympics over the next few decades.
With so many imitators entering the luxury watch space over the past decade, it would be easy for Seiko to try and do something different just for the sake of being different. But instead it remains focused on staying at the top of its game and is still the number one watch choice for experienced professionals and young up-and-comers, especially in North America and Asia. That well-dressed gentleman to your left in the board meeting will let his Seiko Astron peek out behind his sleeve every time he moves his hand to take notes. And that baseball team owner in the press box lets everything about his wardrobe blend in except for his lustrous Seiko GMT Coutura glistening off of his wrist as he cheers his team toward the playoffs.
While many critics of the Seiko brand will tell you that the company has not done enough to shake the stereotype of it making watches only your father or grandfather would wear, celebrities have sort of done that job for them. Perhaps the two best-known athletes in Team USA soccer history—Landon Donovan and Hope Solo—are both brand ambassadors. Actors like Benicio Del Toro, Sigourney Weaver and Kristen Stewart all sport Seikos. Even comedian and former Tonight Show host Jay Leno—no stranger to luxury given his massive luxury motorcar collection—also chooses to wear a Seiko watch.