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seiko

Seiko

The company was founded in 1881, when Kintarō Hattori opened a watch and jewelry shop called "K. Hattori" in the Ginza area of Tokyo, Japan. The first watches produced under the Seiko brand appeared in 1924. In 1969, Seiko introduced the Astron, the world's first production quartz watch; when it was introduced, it cost the same as a medium-sized car. Seiko later went on to introduce the first quartz chronograph. In 1985, Orient Watches and Seiko established a joint factory.

The company was incorporated (K. Hattori & Co., Ltd.) in 1917 and was renamed Hattori Seiko Co., Ltd. in 1983 and Seiko Corporation in 1990. After reconstructing and creating its operating subsidiaries (such as Seiko Watch Corporation and Seiko Clock Inc.), it became a holding company in 2001 and was renamed Seiko Holdings Corporation as of July 1, 2007. Seiko is perhaps best known for its wristwatches, all of which were at one time produced entirely in-house. This includes not only major items such as microgears, motors, hands, crystal oscillators, batteries, sensors, LCDs but also minor items such as the oils used in lubricating the watches and the luminous compounds used on the hands and the dials. Currently watch movements are made in Shizukuishi, Iwate. The fully integrated in-house production system is still practised in Japan.

Seiko mechanical watches are highly prized by collectors—from the Seiko "5" series (the 5 reflects the five essential features of the watch, namely shock resistant, water resistant, automatic, and day and date display), which is the most common, to the highly prized luxury "Credor," "King Seiko," and "Grand Seiko" lines. Today, Seiko Kinetic watches account for a large proportion of sales that combine the self-energizing attributes of an automatic watch with quartz accuracy. The watch is entirely powered by its movement in everyday wear.

On 7 October 2005, Seiko announced the launch of the Seiko Spring Drive, a new movement that provides 72 hours of power compared to 40 hours for mechanical and 3 years for battery powered quartz watches. This new movement uses a "Tri-synchro Regulator". The power from the spring is used to turn the gear train and a generator. The generator powers a circuit that includes a low consumption (~25 nanowatts) quartz crystal oscillator. The oscillator is a part of a continuous feedback circuit, which holds the speed of the generator close to eight revolutions per second. According to Seiko records the resulting movement delivers accuracy commensurate with other quartz timed watch movements. The Spring Drive movement was also used as the basis for the first ever watch designed to be worn by an astronaut during a space walk, the aptly named Seiko Spring Drive Spacewalk.

Various Seiko watches were worn by the cinematic James Bond 007 in four films starring Roger Moore from 1977 to 1985. Also, a Seiko watch was worn by Sean Connery in the 1983 Bond film Never Say Never Again. A Seiko Chronograph is also worn by Jason Bourne in the book "The Bourne Identity" by Robert Ludlum. Aki Ross wears a Seiko wristband computer in Final Fantasy the Spirits Within.

NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz wore a Seiko 5 model 6119-8460 during the height of his career. It was on his wrist when the Apollo 11 crew touched down on the lunar surface, when the Apollo 13 explosion occurred, and throughout the remainder of his career at NASA. The watch was recently sold and is still in working order.

Official timekeeper

Seiko is also the official timer of many major sporting events:

  • Tokyo Olympic Summer Games in Japan, 1964
  • 1978 World Cup in Argentina
  • 1982 World Cup in Spain
  • 1986 World Cup in Mexico
  • IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Italy, 1987
  • 1990 World Cup in Italy
  • IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Tokyo, Japan, 1991
  • Barcelona Olympic Summer Games in Spain, 1992
  • Lillehammer Olympic Winter Games in Norway, 1994
  • Nagano Olympic Winter Games in Japan, 1998
  • Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games in USA, 2002
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Seiko is also named as the official timekeeper of the Gran Turismo racing game series, published by Sony. It's also the sponsor of FC Barcelona.

Seiko used to sponsor Honda F1 (previously known as BAR [British American Racing] Honda). The Seiko name cannot currently be found on the Honda racing cars because Seiko Japan refused to be advertised whilst the names of tobacco companies are still appearing on the cars. They can, however, be found on the lollipop used in the pitlane.

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