Let’s Take a Closer Look at a Seiko Legend: Kintaro Hattori

Seiko 5

Seiko was founded in 1881 by Kintaro Hattori at the age of 21. He had a watch and jewelry shop called K. Hattori then. By 1982, Hattori had purchased a factory in Tokyo, forming Seikosha. 

This is the company that led to the production of Seiko watches. At nearly a century and a half (140 years!), Seiko has gone from a clock company to one of the best-known watch brands in the world. The company is also known as an innovator when it comes to watch technology.

Kintaro Hattori: A History

Kintaro Hattori was born in 1860 to a family of merchants in Tokyo. He started his working life at 13, an age when most children were still in school. He worked at the Kameda clock shop as an intern, having been initiated in technical and commercial training. It wasn’t long until one of the most prominent watch and clock traders of Japan, Kobayashi Denjiro, took him on. 

Upon reaching the age of twenty, Hattori had established his own business as a watch repairman. In 1892, he went on to found his prime watchmaking factory in Japan: Seikosha. This was also when the jewelry and watch shop K. Hattori was founded within Tokyo’s Ginza area. 

That same company is currently called Seiko Holdings Corporation. All over the world, it’s known as Seiko.

After the success of his first Japanese watches, Hattori traveled throughout Europe to examine and buy equipment to stay up to date with the latest technology and productivity. Hattori returned to Japan from his journey with new watchmaking equipment, and he brought back with him a number of new product lines as well. 

By the time he turned 35, he’d launched a pocket watch line, aptly referred to as the “Timekeeper.” Years down the line after that, in 1899, he released his first alarm clock line.

In 1905, K. Hattori then expanded his business all over Japan alongside Shanghai and the urban center. At that point, he’d become Japan’s biggest clock and watch dealer. At 53 years old, in 1913, K. Hattori then manufactured and introduced Japan’s first wristwatch, the “Laurel.”

Following the great earthquake of September 1923, Seikosha was rebuilt. When wristwatch production resumed, it was under a new brand name: Seiko.

In 9132, the K. Hattori & Co. store in downtown Ginza and its emblematic clock tower were reconstructed. In modern times, it is considered a landmark heritage building of Ginza.

Kintaro Hattori eventually passed on at the age of 73 in 1934.

Watches To Honor Hattori

Of course, there have been watches made in Hattori’s honor. The Grand Seiko Masterpiece Collection Kintaro Hattori 160th Anniversary edition SBGZ005 is one; the Grand Seiko Masterpiece Collection edition SBGW260 is another. The latter essentially kickstarted the 140th-anniversary celebration of the company’s foundation in January of last year.


When it comes to Seiko, nobody is more legendary than its founder, Kintaro Hattori. He was a hardworking man who got into watchmaking at a young age. Eventually, he founded Seikosha, which is globally known as Seiko.

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