In late May of 2004, Paul visited Tokyo for vacation and spent an afternoon in the Seiko Institute or Horology. It is, for all intents and purposes a museum of Seiko timepieces. Two floors are devoted to displays of horological instruments through the ages, the third is a library that makes available old catalogs, brochures, periodicals and books related to horology.
Most of the Institute’s visitors are students and professionals of jewelry making and horology but they occasionally receive goofy sort like Paul, a watch nerd who drools over the classic digital marvels of this great watchmaker. Below are photographs of the visit.
The Institute was not documented in any of our maps, finding is was quite a task. It’s in the northeastern part of the city. For visitors to Tokyo, call ahead to make an appointment for your visit. Take the Tobu Isesaki Line north from Asakusa and get off at the Higashi-Mukojima stop, walk west toward the river. Have a good map handy. The address is:
Seiko founder Kintaro Hattori, the fellow pictured here started it all back in the 1880s with a clock sales and repair business. In the beginning he handled only American and European clocks for the wealthy residents of Tokyo. In case you didn’t know, Seiko means “precision” in Japanese
Eventually Hattori began building his own timepieces; his clocks displayed the international time system and were among the first of Japanese origin. This one dates back to 1892.
Hattori’s first wristwatch: “Laurel” manufactured in 1913. Indeed, you will not find an older Seiko than this one!
The curator told me this is Seiko’s first top shelf watch, called the “Grand Seiko.” The Grand Seiko is a popular line sold only in Japan, competing with top European makes like Rolex and Omega. This particular piece is supposedly one of the most valuable and collectible Seikos of all–it’s the watch that generates the most interest from the museum’s visitors.
I’m so upset about the blur in this photo. It shows Seiko’s first digital timepieces, the 05LC and 06LC from 1973. We believe they were sold in Japan only. If anyone has one they wish to sell to us, please let us know!!
Marvelous digital technology from the 70’s here, two world time models and the initial calculator watch in the middle. I wanted to mention the A239 was displayed upside down, but I kept quiet.
Here are some models from the late 70’s. Can you spot the Moonraker Memory Bank? Wonder why they hadn’t replaced the batteries in these?
Some of the LCDs from the early 80’s. The Memo model at the end is one of my favorites. It’s stores 7 messages in memory and displays them on that cool dot matrix display at the press of a button.
As seen in the 007 film Octopussy, here’s the famous TV watch in its complete form. The receiver, that walkman shaped device was capable of tuning in UHF and VHF frequencies. There were two versions of the TV watch; The one pictured is the DXA001, the sporty model.
Check out this Seiko calculator watch promotional display. It’s a real, working calculator and it’s no surprise that the buttons on this version are easier to push than those of the original watch!