A introduction to Seiko in Shizukuishi

The Shizukuishi Watch Studio in Morioka Japan is where mechanical Grand Seiko watches are made, along with Credor, Prospex and other upper end mechanical Seiko watches. This factory is part of Seiko Instruments Inc (SII) and is the only fully integrated mechanical watch production factory in Japan. Almost every part in a watch is made here, even the hairsprings and mainsprings, though the raw wire for each comes from another SII factory 50 miles away.

There is a key philosophical divergence in Seiko’s approach to watchmaking versus its European peers. There is a focus, no, obsession, with perfect functioning and as a consequence all the processes that affect that are rigorously designed, like the clean room assembly for instance. No other watch facility, save for Seiko Epson’s factory, has a clean room to assemble watches. The photo on right shows suiting up before entering the clean room assembly area pictured just below.

That obsession with perfect functioning extends to the movements as well. Finishing of the function parts – pinion teeth, pivots etc – are hand applied and of Geneva Seal standard. But decoration of bridges are done by machine resulting in a precise and slightly harsh look.

Above: A raw and polished pinion


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The Swiss watch industry rich list

Every year Swiss business magazine Bilanz publishes a list of the 300 richest people residing in Switzerland, much like the infamous Forbes list. No big surprises in the 2010 list, though there are some possible omissions that come to mind. The 2010 rankings published in Dec 2010 are as follows for the watch, jewellery and luxury goods industry (all figures in CHF millions):

1          Family Hayek – Swatch Group – 4,500

2          Gérard Wertheimer – Chanel and casemaker G&F Chatelaine – 4,500

3          Johann Rupert – Richemont and tobacco – 3,500

4          Family Stern – Patek Philippe – 2,500

5          Family Mouawad – jewellery and also Roberge watches – 1,750

6          Family Scheufele – Chopard – 1,750

7          Family Gaydoul-Schweri – Migros discount stores and more recently Hanhart – 1,250

8          Family Schneider – Davidoff – 1,250

9          Thomas Straumann – Dental implants and H. Moser & Cie – 1,250

10        Family Audemars, Piguet – Audemars Piguet – 750

11        Jörg Bucherer – Bucherer – 750  

12        Ernest Schneider – Breitling – 750  

13        Carlo Crocco – Hublot – 350  

14        Rolf Schnyder – Ulysse-Nardin – 250  

15        Family Weil, Bernheim – Raymond Weil – 250   

16        Jean-Claude Biver – Hublot – 150  

17        Eric Guerlain – Guerlain, Christian Dior and LVMH – 150  

18        Family Macaluso – Girard-Perregaux, Sowind – 150  

19        Franck Muller and Vartan Sirmakes – Franck Muller Watchland – 150

From http://www.bilanz.ch/.


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