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Inside Seiko: Part 1/3: Tokyo HQ and Morioka

by Peter Chong on December 28, 2018
Watches

We begin a three part series to give you a peek inside the world of Seiko. Part 1 here details the Tokyo HQ, the grand store at Wako Ginza and the manufacture at Morioka. Part 2 will detail the Shiojiri plant. And Part 3 will feature the Micro Artist Studio.

Seiko Headquarters in Ginza, Tokyo.

Tokyo: Seiko HQ, Wako and Seiko Museum

This was a Media Experience trip we made in autumn of 2018. The author has last visited Seiko in 2009, and this was an interesting peek inside Seiko again. We started at the Seiko HQ is in the Ginza area of Tokyo which houses the corporate offices. We also visited the grand old store of Wako where Seiko began. Wako is still operating as a luxury store offering top end watches at the ground floor, with brands like A. Lange & Söhne, Jaeger-LeCoultre and of course a huge collection of Seiko and Grand Seiko watches. The upper floors offer other luxury products and also house some offices, including the office of CEO Shinji Hattori.

The Wako grand store at Ginza.

We also visited the Seiko Museum, in Tokyo, which is open for visits to the public. The museum is rather interesting, and spread over two floors. It houses exhibits which outlines the history of Seiko. And have exhibits with historically important watches and clocks.

We then took the Japanese bullet train, Shinkansen to Morioka.

Morioka: Ryokan stay and manufacture

Hayabushi, the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Morioka.

And was welcomed in a most beautiful ryokan. A Ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn, usually family owned and run. The ryokan we stayed in had a beautiful onsen (hot spring), and features seasonal cuisine of the region.

The ryokan at Morioka

Seiko Morioka

And on to the Manufacture at Morioka.

Seiko Morioka.

At the lobby, we were greeted by a very special clock…made of wood, and driven by a quartz movement.

Wood clock at Seiko Morioka.

In this facility, the manufacture of Seiko watches are carried out. From making cases, to movements. From high production quartz and mechanical movements for Seiko, and mechanical and high beat for Grand Seiko mechanical watches. From Seiko to Grand Seiko. See our discussion on how the Seiko Group of companies are organized here. In a nutshell: Seiko Instruments in Morioka operate out of the Shizuku-ishi Studios, where the 9S Mechanical and Hi-Beat movements are made. At the ultra high end, they make the components for Credor Fugaku, though the Fugaku is assembled and finished in a special studio in the Seiko Corp HQ in Tokyo. Seiko Epson in Shiojiri produces the 9R Spring Drive and 9F Quartz movements from their base in Takumi Studios.

A typical cutting machine on the shop floor at Seiko Morioka.

From base materials, the case, dial, hands, bracelets and movements are constructed from scratch. We saw rows upon rows of machines, rooms upon rooms of highly industrialized automation.

But we also saw the Shizuoka studios, where the higher end watches are assembled, finished and regulated by hand.

Hand assembly at Seiko Shizuku-ishi Studios in Morioka.

The vertical integration is impressive. And the folks at Morioka all exhibited great enthusiasm and knowledge with a very professional attitude.

End of Part 1 of 3

Next stop, another Shinkansen journey to Shiojiri, where the Seiko Epson facilities and the Micro Artist Studios are housed.

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