Fashion

Watch Lovers, You Have to Start Taking Seiko Seriously

Rare vintage Seikos have become the holy grail of Japanese watches. 
ILLUSTRATOR Jasrelle Serrano
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The year was 1881. After a quarter of a century of isolationism, the new Meiji government of Japan had opened the ports and started to put in place a robust infrastructure, ushering in an era of modernization for the entire country. This was the year Kintaro Hattori opened his first clock repair shop in central Tokyo, a business that would eventually become home to Seiko, one of the world's most recognizable watch brands for decades to come.

The young clockmaster—he was only 21 when he opened the K. Hattori & Co.—was witnessing the beginnings of the Japanese clock and watch industry then. In a few years, Hattori managed to go from fixing clocks to making them, and later, to becoming a trailblazer. He introduced a tradition of innovation that would define his company for many decades to come. In 1913, Hattori produced the Laurel, Japan's first wristwatch; in 1929, the Seikosha pocket watch was certified as Japan's official railroad watch; and in 1959, they came out with the Marvel mechanical wristwatch. And finally, in December 1969, Seiko introduced the world's first quartz watch, propelling Seiko to the heights of popularity. These timepieces, which didn’t require complex machinations to m­ake them tick, became the beater of choice for the everyman. True to their mantra of going “one step ahead of the rest," the watchmaker released the Seiko Professional Diver's in 1975, the first watch in the world that was encased in a titanium body and could withstand the depths of up to 600 meters.

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Looking to ride the current resurgence of Japanese watch brands? These three devoted watch collectors tell you why you should be looking at Seiko:

THEY’RE NOW HIGHLY COLLECTIBLE...

...according to luxury car company manager Dong Aberin

Comeback kid “Jokes abound that it was the security guards’ watch of choice. A lot of people think it is low-class. Funny though that nowadays some collectors look at what security guards are wearing to purchase vintage divers.”

Good old time “The resurgence of Seiko today is amazing! The current demand is driving prices up. Vintage pieces are getting harder to find and have since doubled or tripled in price from a few years ago.” 

How he collects “I’m partial to my 1972 Seiko World Time, whose year of release was also my birth year. I also love my Seiko Turtle 6309 7049 from 1981, which my wife Michelle gave me for my birthday last year. And my latest purchase is a 1977 Bullhead in black. It was my last purchase for 2016, which reminds me to be bullish this 2017.”

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THEY’RE EASY ON THE WALLET...

...according to art collector Eric Duldulao

The real deal “I think a lot of budding Seiko collectors started with Swiss watches and then found out just how affordable Seikos are. A simple vintage Rolex Precision will get you around seven to 10 Seikos.”

The real cost “Parts and service are aplenty, while Swiss watches are just the opposite. I hate it when Swiss watches break down. You’d need a technician you can really trust so you don’t lose any parts.”

From Bencab to Seiko “In 2012, I sold a Bencab painting, and a Panerai was part of its payment. A Panerai isn’t my personality, so I sold it off right away and found a very rare Seiko Speedtimer 6139 6000 instead. That started my Seiko passion.”

How he collects “When I buy anything, I never think of whether it will increase in value or not. It’s all about falling in love with the piece. If there is no connection, then I won’t buy it, even if it’s popular. Between myself and the piece—whether it’s a watch, art, or, car—there is a very private conversation going on. You have to listen to that, oblivious to all the noise and hype.”

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THEY’RE PRACTICAL AND VERSATILE...

...according to TV director and cinematographer Carlo Lina

Not so precious “To be truthful, I wanted and still want a Swiss watch, but I decided to get the Seiko first because of practical reasons. Given the nature of my jobs, I find myself shooting in the slums one day and a fancy hotel the next. I needed a watch that I can wear wherever I go. I wanted something not so delicate. I wanted something that I can bang around and not distract me from doing a good job at my work.”

On land and in a suit While he doesn’t really dive, Lina uses the watch’s timer functions when creating time-lapse videos. The director also swears by his Seiko’s versatility as it looks good with a suit as much as with jeans and a shirt. “But, really, the most important thing for me is the durability,” he says.

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AND NOW, TWO NEW THINGS TO COLLECT

While they’ve yet to hit local stores, the Prospex Turtle Blue Lagoon (in Seiko’s trademarked turtle shell shape) and the Prospex Samurai Blue Lagoon (a 200 meters divers watch) are shaping up to become classics. The new pieces prove that, even after a century, Seiko still offers functionality and classic styles for all.

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Seiko is available at 1990 NICFUR Building, Taft Avenue corner Pres. Quirino Avenue, Manila; Glorietta 1, Makati City; SM North, Quezon City; SM City Cebu and SM Cebu Seaside, Cebu City.

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