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The Story of Kintaro Hattori

“Follow your dreams and keep moving ahead, no matter what challenges your face”. That was the philosophy of Seikos´ founder, Kintaro Hattori. Late 19th century Japan is rapidly modernising, but clocks and watches were still rarities and young Kintaro was fascinated by them. He dreamed of becoming a watchmaker to help people measure the passage of time. Day after day he studied how the devices worked and devoted himself to their repair. When he was just 21 he opened his own small shop. A decade later he set up a factory for making wall clocks and called it Seiko-sha, meaning “house of precision”. A few years later he built a store in the heart of Ginza, Tokyo’s shopping district. It was topped by a clock tower that told the hour. Marking the exact time for everyone to see and hear.  

Hattori also trained a new generation of watchmakers and designed and built his own precision manufacturing machinery. In 1913 he successfully created Japan’s first wristwatch, the Seiko “Laurel”. Step by step Hattori had realized his dream of becoming a watchmaker. But then, in 1923 time stopped. The great Kanto earthquake rocked Tokyo and the fires that followed ravaged the city. Everything was destroyed. Hattori´s store, factory and machinery, as well as over 1500 watches that customers had entrusted to him for repair. All of his grand dreams were reduced to ashes.

Undaunted, Hattori was determined to start over again. His first step was to offer replacements to the customers whose watches were lost when his shop was destroyed. It was Hattoris way of helping people return to normal life. Just one year after the city was destroyed, he introduced a brand new wristwatch. Announcing the start of a new era. It was the first watch to wear the “Seiko” name as a mark of reliability and accuracy. Step by step Hattori set out to rebuild his dream. Once again he used his skill to help people measure the passage of time. As the years went by Hattorio took on one last project - to rebuild the clock tower in Ginza and create a new Tokyo landmark. As a symbol of Tokyo’s recovery it gave hope to the city and the nation. And it continues to mark the passage of time, even today.