The Life of Kintaro Hattori: Founder of Seiko Corporation

On this day, October 9 in the year 1860, one of the greatest entrepreneurs in the timepiece industry was born in Tokyo, Japan. His name was Kintaro Hattori, the founder of Seiko Corporation, a leading manufacturer of watches and clocks.

Kintaro Hattori
Kintaro Hattori (Credit:

Kintaro Hattori was the son of an antique dealer. He was educated in a private elementary school called Seiundo. At 11 years old, he worked in a men’s clothing importer and wholesaler. Two years later, he visited a clock repair shop and decided to be clock repairman. Later, when the shop he was working went bankrupt, he donated his entire savings to the owner out of gratitude and pity.

In 1881, Kintaro opened a watch and jewelry shop called K. Hattori & Co. It was a period of economic recession in Japan. At that time, Japanese businessmen paid their suppliers two times a year. Being a maverick, Kintaro agreed with the demand of his foreign suppliers to be paid after 30 days. Thus he earned a reputation of reliability and honesty and in the process, he gained a preferential treatment from them. He would always have the newest model and made sure he met the required volume.

In 1892, the Japanese economy turned for the better and demand for clock was booming. Kintaro opened the Seikosha Factory to produce quality clocks under the brand Seiko which means precise. Three years later, his clocks were being exported. This was also the year that he introduced the Timekeeper pocket watch. By 1911, almost 60% of all clocks made and sold in Japan came from his company. In 1913, he produced Japan’s first wristwatch, the Laurel.

Kintaro Hattori died in 1934 at the age of 73. In 1983, the company he founded was renamed Hattori Seiko Co., Ltd. In 1990, it was changed to Seiko Corporation.


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