Made-in-Japan watches mark 100th birthday


With this year marking the 100th anniversary of made-in-Japan wristwatches, Japanese makers are revisiting old-style mechanical watches.

The Japan Clock & Watch Association estimates quartz watches accounted for 98 percent of all watches produced worldwide in 2011. But quartz watches are generally viewed as cheap, mass-produced products, while Swiss brands are far ahead in the luxury mechanical watch market.

The first Japanese wristwatch, called Laurel, was made in 1913 by K.Hattori, the predecessor of Seiko Holdings Corp.

In 1969, Seiko developed the world’s first quartz watch, Astron, which was more accurate than mechanical wristwatches and enabled mass production. In 1979, the Japanese overtook their Swiss rivals in output of movements, as the mechanical systems are known.