Seiko and Quartz

By Jo Phillips

Seiko’s Role in the Quartz Revolution – A Comprehensive Look at the History and Impact of Seiko’s Innovation. Learn about Seiko’s key role in the Quartz Revolution, and discover how Seiko transformed watch technology from its early beginnings to its latest innovations. Photographer: Luiz Neto

Seiko’s Role in the Quartz Revolution: Changing the Watch Industry Forever

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the watch industry was shaken up by the emergence of quartz watches. Before this, mechanical watches dominated the market, but the introduction of quartz technology revolutionized the industry and changed how people thought about timekeeping. One company that played a key role in this revolution was Seiko.

This article will explore Seiko’s contributions to the quartz revolution, its impact on the watch industry, and how Seiko continues to innovate in the modern era.

What is the Quartz Revolution?

Before delving into Seiko’s role in the quartz revolution, it’s important to understand what it was and how Seiko impacted the watch industry. Quartz watches are timepieces that use a small quartz crystal to keep time. The quartz crystal vibrates at a precise frequency, which regulates the watch’s timekeeping. In contrast, mechanical watches rely on gears and springs to keep time.

The quartz revolution was a period in the late 1960s and early 1970s when quartz watches emerged as a serious competitor to mechanical watches. These watches were more accurate, more reliable, and less expensive to produce than mechanical watches. As a result, they quickly gained popularity with consumers.

Seiko’s Contributions to the Quartz Revolution

Seiko was one of the companies at the forefront of the quartz revolution. In fact, the company is often credited with creating the first commercially successful quartz watch. In 1969, Seiko introduced the Astron, the world’s first quartz watch. The watch was a technological marvel, with a quartz oscillator that was accurate to within five seconds per month. It was also significantly less expensive than comparable mechanical watches.

The Astron was a game-changer for the watch industry. It quickly gained popularity with consumers, and other companies began noticing. Seiko had demonstrated that quartz technology could be used to create accurate, reliable, and affordable watches, and other companies began to invest in the technology. Seiko continued to innovate in the quartz watch space throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The company introduced a range of new quartz watches, including the 7A28, the world’s first analog quartz chronograph, and the Seiko Tuna, an up to 600 meters water-resistant diving watch.

The Impact of Seiko’s Quartz Watches

Seiko’s quartz watches had a significant impact on the watch industry. The company’s innovations helped to drive down the cost of producing quartz watches, making them more affordable for consumers. This, in turn, led to a shift in consumer preferences toward quartz watches over mechanical watches.

The quartz revolution also had a profound impact on the Swiss watch industry. Swiss watchmakers had dominated the industry for decades, but the emergence of quartz watches threatened their dominance. Many Swiss companies struggled to adapt to the changing market, and some even went bankrupt.

However, some Swiss watchmakers recognized quartz technology’s potential and began investing in it. Today, many Swiss watch companies produce both mechanical and quartz watches.

Seiko Today

Seiko continues to innovate in the watch industry today. The company has introduced a range of new technologies and features, including GPS solar watches and watches with kinetic movement.

One notable example is the Seiko Spring Drive, a watch that combines the accuracy of quartz technology with the traditional craftsmanship of mechanical watches. The Spring Drive uses a quartz crystal to regulate timekeeping, but it also includes a mechanical component that allows for a smoother, more precise movement of the watch hands.


Seiko played a significant role in the quartz revolution that forever changed the watch industry. The company’s technological, design, and production innovations paved the way for a new era of accurate, affordable, and reliable timekeeping devices. The creation of the Seiko Astron marked a turning point in the industry. It was the first quartz watch to be commercially available and represented a major shift away from traditional mechanical movements.

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