For Your Eyes Only: Seiko's Precise Story


In 1881, a young 22-year-old entrepreneur, Kintaro Hattori, opened a clock repair shop in Japan. Thanks to his success, he founded his first factory 11 years later in the centre of Tokyo, which he named "SEIKOSHA", literally meaning "the house of precision".


Seiko founder Kintaro Attori

Although Seiko is best known for its wristwatches, in 1942 the company decided to start manufacturing and distributing opthalmic lenses for spectacle frames. The lens production was as precise as that of their timekeeping devices, and following continued development over eight decades, Seiko Optical now produce the most advanced range of optical lenses in the world. The company has recently launched "Seiko Vision Specialists", the first international co-branded program for premium independent opticians, and their latest partnership is with The Ocularium - the optical retail business launched in London this year by David and Elliot Mason.


Correct lens choice essential for A View To A Kill

Seiko's reputation for advanced technical innovation achieved international recognition in 1964, when the company was chosen as official timekeeper for the Tokyo Olympics. In addition to supplying the mechanical stopwatches that were used in the games, Seiko became the first company to use quartz clocks for all of the major Olympic events.



1964 Tokyo Olympics promotional poster 

Seiko's pioneering development of quartz technology in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics continued after the games had ended. In 1969, they introduced the "Astron" - the world's first commercial quartz wristwatch, costing the equivalent of a medium-sized car when it was launched, then in 1973 the first wristwatch with an LCD display capable of displaying six digits for hours, minutes and seconds, and in 1975, the first digital watch with a stopwatch function. In 1978, Seiko introduced the world's first quartz diver's watch with a water resistance of 600 meters, then in 1982, the first wristwatch to incorporate a television... no wonder the gadget-loving James Bond traded his Rolex for a Seiko during this period.


Seiko's James Bond advertisement (1983)

This digital revolution created a "quartz crisis" in the traditional Swiss watchmaking industry. The number of Swiss watch companies dropped from over 1,600 in 1970 to fewer than 600 by the middle of the 1980's, and the number of employees in the industry plummeted from 90,000 in 1970 to 33,000 in 1984. By the mid-80s, a renaissance had begun, as mechanical watches were gradually recognised as luxury goods, appreciated for their elaborate craftsmanship and aesthetic appeal, while the gadgetry of quartz watches was slowly condemned as gimmickry.


Do pay attention 007

There are only two fully vertically integrated watchmakers in the world, Rolex and Seiko. They produce all of the necessary components in-house, which includes movements, cases, bracelets, dials, hands and, of course... the crystal (which protects the dial and hands whilst making it possible to clearly read the time). It was Seiko's expertise in producing this element of the wristwatch that created the opportunity to branch into the world of opthalmic lenses.


Seiko means precision

Seiko’s appetite for innovation has shown no signs of diminishing. In 1975, wishing to attack the American industrial market, Seiko created Epson, the current world leader in digital printing. A decade later the two companies combined their Research & Development resources, and in the years between 2002 and 2022, filed 3,769 patent applications, with a significant number covering optical activity.


Unrivalled innovation and peerless quality

The pioneering spirit of developing "world-firsts" crossed from horology to opthalmology when in 1998, Seiko created the world's first double-aspheric lens, followed in 2005 by the first anti-fog coating, and in 2007 the first 100% organic lens. Not satisfied in being first to market, Seiko are also determined to be best in class - in 2010 they created the world's most resistant anti-reflective coating, in 2012 the thinnest double aspheric lens, and in 2019 introduced "Seiko Brilliance" the most advanced progressive design ever made. 


Precision lenses require precise measurements

Seiko's innovation and quality is further enhanced by an astonishing range of prescription lenses to suit the optical needs, occupational requirements and lifestyle preferences of the patient, together with sun-options which include transition, polarisation and coloured tints in 200 shades. Of course, precision lenses require precise measurements, and to support The Ocularium's partnership with Seiko, their latest cutting-edge SVX technology has been installed in-store to digitally record physical data, such as pupillary distance, ocular height and pantoscopic tilt, with pinpoint accuracy. If you find yourself in London, pop into The Ocularium in Soho and we can further discuss the options for Seiko's incomparable bespoke lens service - for your eyes only.

Click here to view The Ocularium frame collection.

Please do not hesitate to Contact Us for more information.

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