The Seiko Holdings Corporation is a Japanese maker of clocks, electronics, jewelry, optical products, semiconductors, and watches. Originally founded in 1881 out of Tokyo, Japan by Kintaro Hattori, Seiko was originally just a simple little jewelry and watch shop titled “K. Hattori.” It is this same Hattori who is credited for creating the Astron, which is the first generation of produced quartz wristwatches in the world. He is also the same creator who put forth the first-ever quartz watch featuring a complex chronograph. Prior to opening up his very first shop, Hattori had already been working with timepieces as he started off as an apprentice at the age of thirteen. Through the mentorship he received from Seijaro Sakurai, Hattori learned how to sell and design clocks and watches, and now you know the brand as Seiko.
Time Is Revolutionary
Within the Japanese Nation, a new era of timepieces was making its presence felt during the late 1800s. Inspired by the Western World’s pocket watches, wholesalers would import timepiece products from the west and either openly make them available to the retailers, including Hattori and Sakurai. For Hattori, not long after he opened his first shop in 1881, he began directly dealing with foreign trading firms based out of Yokohama. A number of years later, Hattori developed close business relations with these trading firms, such as C&J Favre-Brandt, F. Perregaux & Co., Siber & Brennerwald, and Zanuti & Cie. This enabled him to obtain exclusive access to timepiece imports nobody else could achieve at the time. Because of this, Hattori’s little shop grew in popularity as he sold items no other store had throughout all of Japan. Because of this success, Hattori was able to relocate his shop to Tokyo’s main street of Ginza. To this day, Ginza remains at )the heart of Japan’s primary commercial hub. It was only a matter of time before Hattori would go from retailer to manufacturer by first purchasing a factory in Tokyo and renaming it to Seikosha. By 1891, Hattori’s prominence enabled him to become the director of Tokyo Clockmaker and a member of Tokyo’s Chamber of Commerce. Four years later, Hattori purchases the entire corner of Ginza 4-Chome, which is now known today as Wako Co., Ltd. The Wako Clock Tower that proudly sits atop Tokyo’s most prestigious department store was built, measuring over 52.5 feet from top to bottom.
From Seikosha to Seiko
Roughly meaning “House of Exclusive Workmanship,” Seikosha produced a series of clocks as of 1892 from its new factory. However, in 1924, the name was shortened to Seiko as Hattori’s superstitious fear of omens would plague him and the company if he didn’t make the change. Seiko, in Japanese, means exquisite and is homophonous with the word success. Over the years, Seiko has been noted for bringing forth what truly are the world’s most exquisite watches. One in particular that stands out is the Seiko Tuna line, which started its production in 1975. These are watches designed to be able to resist the water, which is ideal for divers, swimmers, and water sport enthusiasts. Although not officially named Tuna by Seiko, it’s a nickname it achieved by the company’s fan community. This nickname was earned due to the resemblance of its outer case to a can of tuna. Collectors affectionately refer to the Seiko Tuna watches as timepiece hockey pucks since most of them have a black case and can measure as large as the size of a standard hockey puck. Incidentally, the watchmaker who first brought forth Seiko’s sporty watch line is Ikuo Tokunaga. Tuna’s nickname also comes from his last name.
5. Prospex Diver Tuna 55th Anniversary Edition Blue Dial Men’s Watch
According to Seiko, this watch’s reference number is SBDX035, which is a recreated version of the original diver’s watch series known as 62MAS, which has since become an icon within the timepiece industry. This water-resistant watch featuring automatic time movement proved its reliability when used by a Japanese expedition team that spent time in the Antarctic from 1966 until 1969. Today’s version of that watch is a limited edition at only 1,100 copies ever made. Currently, their price tag is over $6,000 USD and has a water resistance depth of 1000 feet. The titanium case color and silicone strap color are navy blue and the glass casing is of sapphire crystal.
4. Darth Tuna
Technically referred to by Seiko as SBBN011, “Darth Tuna” was first released in 1999. Star Wars fans especially appreciated how the design of the watch somewhat resembled the film’s main villain, Darth Vader. The solid black color scheme is what quickly gave the watch its nickname and it has stuck ever since. Despite the name, its performance to be able to resist the water as deep as 3,280 feet and its power caliber of 7C46 laid out an impressive line of watches ideal for watery environments. The average price tag for a Darth Tuna runs about $2,000 US.
3. Golden Tuna
Before Darth Tuna, Seiko brought forth a watch that featured a golden inner case, bezel, and crown. The hue of gold comes from a layer of titanium nitride (TiN). The 1986 version of this watch line saw an improvement from its original 1978 release where the watch’s ability to resist water went from the maximum allowance of 1,969 feet to 3,280 feet. It also had the more modernized 7C46 caliber output. Originally, Seiko released this watch as reference number SBDS018 but received the Golden Tuna recognition due to its golden color.
2. Spring Dive Tuna
Considered as part of the Marinemaster Collection as of 2013, what fans of Seiko dub as the “Spring Dive Tuna” features what is considered to be the best combination of mechanical and electrical watchmaking elements. The extremely fluidic movement of these watches makes them easily identifiable by how the second-hand glides around the dial. Technically labeled as SBDB008, there are only 300 copies of the 2013 model ever made. The maximum water depth this watch is capable of reaching is 1,969 feet and shares the same golden-tin color as the Golden Tuna. The outer shell is covered in a layer of gray DLC. Another distinct feature of the Spring Dive Tuna that sets it apart from the others is the inner casing has a screw-down case back. Thanks to its Spring Dive caliber, this piece has a power reserve indicator on its dial at 9 o’clock. Should you happen to come across a 2013 Spring Dive Tuna, expect to pay at least $4,400 USD.
1. Grandfather Tuna
This is considered the “Holy Grail” of Seiko’s Tuna series. Although it’s not quite as water-resistant as its “grandchildren,” this is the watch that started it al. When it first came out in 1975, it was sold outside of Japan and was referred to by numbers, starting at 6159-7009 and finishing at 6159-7019. This was originally designed as a tool for professional divers as it can resist water as deep as 1,969 feet. Seiko was also the first manufacturer to create a diver’s watch out of titanium. The black ceramic coating is designed to not only be waterproof but scratch-resistant. Today, this original line of the Seiko Tuna watches can fetch over $7,000 USD.