The Seiko Corporation began as K. Hattori & Co., Ltd in 1881; it later became Seikosha clock supply factory and finally Seiko Corporation in 1895. The line of work was always about timepieces, initially with wall clocks, and then pocket watches. Pocket watches which were also known as fob watches, due to the short leather strap which allowed them to be secured to the belt of a waistcoat. In 1923, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake centered under Oshima Island destroyed most of Tokyo, and the ensuing fires took away the Seiko factory and headquarters before Seiko women’s watches had even begun.
When Japan seated a new emperor in 1912, Mr. Hattori considered this a good sign, and began to manufacture a new watch, the first ever with a Seiko brand. All Hattori wristwatches manufactured since then has carried the Seiko brand name, while wall clocks continued under the Seikosha name. At this time, the manufactured wristwatches were small by current standards, measuring only slightly more than an inch in diameter.
The terminology we use in describing watches can be confusing to most people. The term movement, for instance, refers to the moving parts of the watch, with exception of the hands. The most common types of movements are mechanical, quartz, and electronic. Except for the mechanical watches, very few moving parts exist within the movement.
The invention of the digital Seiko women’s watch is as interesting as it is an excellent example of how paradigm shifts in business are both difficult and devastating. The original digital watches were made in the 1930s, but were not very accurate. Later, in the 1960s, several makers produced electronic watches which were more accurate, but had limited life spans and were very pricey, selling in the 2,000 dollar range. Nevertheless, these watches inspired the Swiss to re-look the notion of the quartz movement.
In what is now a classic example of how business can blind itself to the future by relying on past success, it was the Swiss that first introduced a quartz movement watch at the International Chronometric Competition in 1967. They had become convinced their mechanical watches, the most accurate in the world, would remain the staple for timepieces for the future. In 1967, they showed their first watch with a quartz movement, which they did not patent since it was considered only a passing fad. But the world was watching, and learned fast.
With great strides in miniaturization and continued increases in accuracy, wristwatches were incredibly popular and were manufactured in a dizzying array of shapes and sizes. As time went on, extremely accurate watches were no longer the sole domain of the high end expensive watches, but rather accuracy was affordable. With the increased flexibility, the decrease in size constraints yielded, and women could color and style coordinate their watches with their clothing, and accessorizing became the norm.
Watches have morphed into more than just a mobile accurate timepiece. In addition to fashion flair, they are increasing equipped with additional functions to increase their utility for the wearer. Need to calculate the tip at a restaurant? Use the calculator built into your watch. Changing time zones? Push a button and your watch is current wherever you are. No more trying to calculate from Greenwich Mean Time!