When Seiko’s founder Kintaro Hattori was born in 1860 in central Tokyo, Japan was undergoing massive social and industrial changes as it took its place on the world stage after more than two centuries of self-imposed isolation.
It was a time of opportunity and no-one grasped its significance more than Kintaro. At the age of just 17, he set up his own timepiece repair business at his home and, just four years later, he founded his own company, repairing, importing and selling clocks and watches.
The rest, as they say, is history.
160 years on, Seiko is celebrating the life and career of its founder with a limited edition Astron GPS Solar watch that Seiko says exemplifies Mr Kintaro’s vision that the company should always be “One step ahead of the rest”.
Astron was the world’s first GPS Solar watch when it launched in 2012, and today’s limited edition uses the same connection to the GPS network to remain accurate everywhere in the world, and never needs a battery change thanks to its solar energy capture.
It is made from titanium with a scratch-resistant black coating and gold accents. The bezel is made from Zirconia ceramic and has sixteen facets, one for each decade since Mr Kintaro’s birth.
The case back carries Mr Kintaro’s name and three reminders of his legacy. The trademark “S” that he registered in 1900 occupies the center of the case back. His motto “One step ahead of the rest” appears above it and the name Seiko which was first used in 1924 takes pride of place on the rim.
It will be available in October, the month of Mr Kintaro’s birth, for $3,900.