Seiko

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Seiko Holdings Corporation
セイコーホールディングス株式会社
Type Public TYO: 8050
Founded Chūō, Tokyo, Japan (1881)
(Incorporated in 1917)
Headquarters Minato, Tokyo, Japan
Key people Katsumi Yamamura, Chairman; Koichi Murano, President
Industry Retail-Jewelry, Precision Instruments and Machinery
Products Watches, clocks, printers, semiconductors, mechatronics devices, machine tools, optical glass materials, jewelry, eyeglasses, etc.
Revenue Green up.png ¥201.9 billion (FY2006, consolidated)


Employees 7,358 (March 31, 2007, consolidated)



Website Seiko Holdings Corporation


Seiko Holdings Corporation (セイコーホールディングス株式会社; Seikō Hōrudingusu Kabushiki-gaisha) (TYO: 8050) (more commonly known simply as Seiko) is a Japanese company that produces watches and clocks, timepiece technologies, optical products, precision electronic components, and business machines. The company is perhaps best known for its watches. Seiko began as "K. Hattori," a shop in the Ginza district of Tokyo that sold jewelry and imported clocks. Seiko produced the first Japanese wristwatch in 1913. In 1958, Seiko began manufacturing clocks, using electronic oscillators regulated by quartz crystals to create a signal with a very precise frequency, which measured time more accurately than mechanical clocks. In 1969, Seiko introduced the Seiko Astron, the world's first production quartz watch; today, quartz crystal watches powered by movements of the wrist make up a large proportion of its sales.

Seiko emphasizes the idea that "reliable quality is the starting point of communication between Seiko and its customers"[1] in its corporate motto: "True communications with customers through reliable quality."[2] The company identifies "trust" as the social value it is aiming for. Social values such as trust are not only a strong foundation for business, but also the foundation of society itself. Social values define corporate responsibility and corporate ethics.

Contents

History

Grand Quartz, produced in 1978

In 1881, Kintarō Hattori opened a watch and jewelry shop called ("K. Hattori," 服部時計店, Hattori Tokeiten) in the Ginza area of Tokyo, Japan, and began to sell imported clocks. In 1892, Hattori began to produce wall clocks under the name Seikosha (精工舎, Seikōsha). Seiko is a Japanese word meaning "exquisite," "minute," or "success." "Exquisite" is usually written “精巧” while "success" is usually written “成功.”[3]

In 1913, Seikosha launched the first wrist watch made in Japan, the Laurel. The first watches produced under the Seiko brand appeared in 1924. In 1930, Seiko began to manufacture camera shutters. The watch production division split off in 1937, as Daini Seikosha Co., Ltd., predecessor of today's Seiko Instruments Inc.; and in 1947, after the end of World War II, the retail division became Wako Co., Ltd. The company, which had been incorporated as K. Hattori & Co., Ltd. in 1917, listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 1949. In 1953, Seiko sponsored Japan’s first TV commercial.

In 1958, Seiko began making commercial quartz clocks for broadcasters, using electronic oscillators regulated by quartz crystals to create a signal with a very precise frequency, that measured time more accurately than mechanical clocks. In 1969, Seiko introduced the Seiko Astron, the world's first production quartz watch; when it was introduced, it cost the same as a medium-sized car. Seiko went on to produce the first quartz chronograph. Quartz clocks and watches soon proliferated, due to their low cost of production and inherent accuracy.

In 1982, Seiko introduced the first TV watch. The company was renamed Hattori Seiko Co., Ltd. in 1983. In 1985, Orient Watches and Seiko established a joint factory. In 1990, the company became Seiko Corporation. After reconstructing and creating its operating subsidiaries (such as Seiko Watch Corporation, Seiko Clock Inc.), it became a holding company in 2001, and was renamed Seiko Holdings Corporation in July 2007.[4]

Seiko Group

Seiko expanded its expertise in timepiece technology into many areas, including precision camera components, eyeglasses, and special lenses for electronic devices, timers for appliances, integrated circuit tags, and golf clubs. Seiko-Epson produces networking hardware, software, printers, and time recorders for businesses and manufacturers. Seiko is one of the few wristwatch manufacturers that produces all of its watches and movements, including lubrication oils and the luminous compounds used on watch dials, entirely in-house. Seiko has a reputation for luxury products; its strategies for sales and marketing, and for providing customer service, have become a subject of study for many business students. Seiko has been the official timekeeper at many major sporting events, including several Olympic Games (1964, 1972, 1992, 1994, 1998, and 2002) and Football World Cups (1978, 1982, 1986, and 1990).

Seiko Group (セイコー・グループ, Seikō Gurūpu) consists of three core companies, Seiko Holdings Corporation (Seiko), Seiko Instruments Inc. (SII), and Seiko Epson Corporation (Epson), all utilizing timepiece technologies in their products. Although they have some common shareholders, including the key members of the Hattori family, the three companies in the Seiko Group are not affiliated, and are managed and operated independently. Epson has established its own brand image and rarely uses "Seiko."

Seiko Instruments Inc. and Seiko Epson Corp. manufacture the movements for Seiko watches, which are marketed by Seiko Watch Corporation, a subsidiary of Seiko Holdings Corporation. Seiko Instruments Inc. (SII), is a privately held company, headquartered in Chiba, Japan.

Seiko Holdings Corporation

Seiko Holdings Corporation (SEIKO, TYO: 8050, headquartered in Tokyo), is one of the three core companies of the Seiko Group. It includes the following business lines:

Watches and clocks

Seiko is perhaps most famous for its wristwatches. Seiko is known for its advanced technology, and is one of the few wristwatch manufacturers that produces all of its watches and movements entirely in-house. Even secondary items, such as the oils used in lubricating the watches, and the luminous compounds used on the hands and the dials, are produced by the Seiko factories.

Seiko produces both quartz and mechanical watches, sold for prices ranging from around US$50 to as much as US$150,000 for the Credor Spring Drive Sonnerie in Rose Gold.[5] Seiko's mechanical watches, including the common Seiko "5" series (“5” representing the 5 essential features of the watch: Shock resistant, water resistant, automatic, with day and date display), the Seiko automatic Chronometer series, the "Bell-Matic" with a mechanical alarm, and the luxury "Credor," "King Seiko," and "Grand Seiko" lines, are the most prized by collectors.

Seiko Kinetic watches now account for a large proportion of sales. These watches have the accuracy of quartz and are entirely powered by the movements of the wrist during everyday wear.

Seiko Pyramid Talk, world's first quartz talking clock, from 1984

Seiko portrays its watches as a means of enhancing enjoyment of life, expressing pride, and sharing joy and emotion. Seiko Watch Corporation handles the marketing program, product planning, and after-market servicing for the Seiko, Credor, and Wired brands in Japan, and for the Seiko, Pulsar, Alba, and Lorus brands internationally.[6]

Seiko Corporation of America is responsible for distribution of Seiko watches and clocks, as well as Pulsar brand watches, in the United States. The models available in the United States are normally a smaller subset of the full line produced in Japan. Seiko Corporation of America has its headquarters and Coserv repair center in Mahwah, New Jersey. In the United States, Seiko watches are sold primarily by fine jewelers and department stores, as well as 19 company stores located in various cities.

Various Seiko watches were worn by the cinematic character James Bond in four films, starring Roger Moore, from 1977-1985. Also, a Seiko watch was worn by Sean Connery in the 1983 Bond film, Never Say Never Again.

Seiko Clock Inc. dates to the earliest days of “Hattori Tokeiten,” and handles every aspect of the clock business, from product planning and development to production, sales, and service. It has manufacturing bases both in Japan and overseas; its Hong Kong base manages overseas marketing. The company seeks to deliver superior products to market through quality, innovative technology and technical prowess.[7]

Spring drive

In 1997, Seiko Epson publicly announced the "Spring Drive," a new watch movement developed in collaboration with Seiko Instruments and Seiko Holdings.[8] It was presented at the 1998 Basel Watch Fair and first appeared commercially in the Credor "luxury watch" range as a limited edition in 1999. A version which included an automatic winder was shown in Seiko models at the 2005 Basel Watch Fair.

Like a mechanical watch, the spring drive uses a mainspring, barrel, automatic winder, and stem winding to store energy, but the conventional escapement is replaced with a device that Seiko calls a Tri-synchro Regulator to regulate the unwinding of the mainspring. The regulator controls the use of the three forms of energy used in the Spring Drive mechanism: the mechanical power of the mainspring, created by the automatic winder; the electrical energy generated from this mechanical power; and the electromagnetic energy that governs the rotation of the glide wheel. Energy produced by the glide wheel powers a control circuit and a tiny, ultra-low consumption (~25 nanoWatts) quartz crystal oscillator, which in turn regulates the electro-mechanical braking of the glide wheel. The glide wheel's speed is sampled 8 times per second (each time it makes a complete revolution around the regulator), and compared with the reference quartz signal by the control circuit. A variable braking force is continuously applied to regulate the glide wheel's frequency. The movement never stops as in a traditional escapement; it is slowed to the proper speed by the brake. The result is a watch with hands that glide instead of ticking, as in a conventional mechanical or quartz watch. The accuracy of this watch movement is guaranteed to be within one second per day, but watch owners commonly report an accuracy of one to two seconds per week. Seiko developed a special alloy called "Spron510" for the mainspring, increasing its capacity to store 72 hours' worth of power, instead of the 40 hours stored in an average mainspring.

Precision products

Seiko Precision Inc. produces electronic devices such as camera components, peripheral devices and applications, and precision molded components; as well as business products including network communication devices, software, printers, time recorders, integrated circuit tags, and precision manufacturing devices.

Seiko NPC Corporation develops products that employ analog and digital technologies, for applications in mobile devices, digital consumer electronics, and intelligent home appliances. Its quartz crystal oscillator ICs, which have the top share in the global market, are key components in the reference clock signals which control various electronic devices.[9]

Optical products

Seiko began selling imported eyeglass frames in Japan in 1921, and eventually developed a full line of lenses and optical products. In 1964, it established Japan's first full-scale laboratory system, and introduced Japan's first plastic optical lenses in 1975. Seiko Optical Products is in charge of the planning, marketing, sales, and service of Seiko optical lenses and frames, and eyeglass-related products including frames and sunglasses under a variety of licensed brands.

Retail

The Hattori Clock Tower in Ginza, Tokyo, former headquarters and main store building of K. Hattori & Co., currently houses Wako Department Store.

Wako Co. Ltd., an upscale specialty retailer, is a landmark in Ginza, and sells a wide range of sophisticated products, including watches, jewelry, men's and women's clothing, interior home decor, arts and crafts, eyeglasses, and foodstuffs.[10]

Other

  • Seiko S-Yard Co., Ltd. conducts businesses that range from product planning and development to domestic and overseas sales of golf clubs under the S-YARD brand. It also produces stop watches, sports timing devices, fitness products including runners' watches and pedometers, and musical accessories including metronomes and tuning devices. During the 1980s, the music division produced a range of digital synthesizers, such as the Seiko DS-250, for use in electronic music.[11]
  • Established in 1970, Seiko Time Systems Inc. is engaged in the integrated manufacturing, and sales of products ranging from the system clocks widely used in schools and hospitals, marionette clocks, and technical clocks, such as those for broadcasting stations, to sports timing devices that are accurate to within 10 thousandth of a second, data processing computer systems, and all types of large displays. The company provides time-keeping systems for a variety of sporting events.[12]
  • Cronos Inc. is one of the largest Japanese luxury timepiece retailers, operating numerous sales centers in upscale Japanese department stores nationwide offering Seiko brand and other prestigious watches, jewelry, and eyeglasses, watch repair and associated services.[13]
  • Ohara Inc. (Seiko owns 32.2 percent TYO: 5218) is a specialty optical glass manufacturer, established in 1935, manufacturing products for optics-related industries, such as environmentally friendly optical glass, HDD glass substrate materials, and ultra-low expansion glass ceramics (CLEARCERAM®), as well as supplying technologies and services to the optical and information sectors.[14]

Seiko Epson Corporation

Seiko Epson Corporation (EPSON, TYO: 6724), headquartered in Suwa, Nagano, Japan, includes Orient Watch Co. Ltd. Seiko Epson Corporation (Epson) is known for its printers in Europe and North America and its diverse line of electronics and computer equipment within Japan.

Official timekeeper

Seiko has been the official timer of many major sporting events:

  • Tokyo Olympic Summer Games in Japan, 1964
  • Sapporo Winter Olympic Games, 1972
  • 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 U.S., 2002
  • IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Osaka, 2007

Seiko is also named as the official timekeeper of the Gran Turismo racing game series, published by Sony.

Notes

  1. Seiko Holdings, Corporate Objectives. Retrieved July 18, 2008.
  2. Ibid.
  3. A Journey In Time: The Remarkable Story of Seiko: Official Seiko Company History (2003).
  4. Seiko of Japan, History. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
  5. Credor.com, Spring drive Sonnerie. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
  6. Seiko Japan, Corporate Divisions. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Epson Japan, Milestone Seiko/Credor Spring Drive. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Wako, Ginza Wako. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
  11. Seiko S-Yard, Seiko Sports Life. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
  12. Seiko Time Systems, Homepage. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
  13. Cronos, Japanese Home Page. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
  14. Ohara Inc., Homepage. Retrieved June 30, 2008.

References

  • Caswell, M. Watch this space: As Seiko reaches the final frontier, a firm that keeps breaking new ground. Business Traveler, English Edition. 2008: 36-57.
  • Marrison, W.A. The Evolution of the quartz crystal clock. Bell System Technical Journal 27 (1948): 510–588.
  • Nihon, Keieishi Kenkyūjo, and Seikō Tokei Shiryōkan. History of the Japanese Clock and Watch Industry. Tokyo: Hattori Seiko Co., 1986.
  • Uchida, Hoshimi. Wall Clocks of Nagoya, 1885-1925. History of the Japanese Clock and Watch Industry, 2. Tokyo: Hattori Seiko Co., 1987.

External links

All links retrieved June 30, 2008.

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