Home' Scoop : Scoop 52 Contents 94 SCOOP AUTUMN 2010
with norman burns email@example.com
When Tokyo Mayor Shinpei Goto
wished in 1924 for a pocket watch
"to be loved by citizens of the world"
little did he realise how prophetic his words were.
The stopwatch was the first produced by the
city s Shokosha Watch Research Institute, which
also proved savvy enough to pick up on the
mayor s words -- just six years later it changed its
name to Citizen Watch Co Ltd, a brand that has
The pen may be mightier than the sword,
but for Seiko an ancient sword-making
tradition has inspired the evolution of its
much-vaunted Spring Drive line-up.
The company s beautiful, mechanical Ananta
models (taking their name for the Sanskrit for
"infinite") owe their classical curvy lines to Katana,
a centuries-old art of sword-making.
Katana swords are single-sided weapons forged
from a single piece of steel and were invented
around 800 years ago.
The blade-like hands, rotor shape and curved
lugs on the Ananta Spring Drive Chronograph
(rrp from $5000 to $10,000 depending on
functionality) all hark back to this legacy but the
Spring Drive mechanism is an innovation dating
back just five years -- although it took nearly 30
years, and 600 prototypes, before Seiko engineers
perfected the technology.
Spring Drive watches use a mechanism which
eliminates the second-by-second "stepping"
motion found on other watches; instead the
seconds hand glides around the watch face in a
continous, fluid motion.
Other Ananta models include the Greenwich
become one of the most successful in the business.
Citizen Group today is a megalithic corporation
involved in everything from industrial machinery,
electronic technology, jewellery and even ice skat-
ing rinks but it s the Citizen watch that s touched
And no wonder; Citizen today produces 10
million pieces annually, the vast majority quartz-
powered, low to medium "price point" models.
Citizen s models have been, well, model citizens
in the watch world; well-made, accurate and
sturdy but not especially striking, it has to be said,
Mean Time (rrp $7000), with Power Reserve and
Date Displays and other variations priced from
$3400 to $3700. In watch-speak Seiko is a true
manufacture -- a French term for a watchmaker
that designs and builds all its components in-
house. It has even invented its own alloy, Spron,
for use in its mainsprings and makes all of its own
(mercury and lead-free) batteries.
The company, started in the 1880s by Kintaro
Hattori, evolved from a retail store to a clock
maker and then watchmaker and derives
its name from the Japanese word
seikosha -- exquisite house.
Today it is the only manufacture
to produce wristwatches using
four technologies; quartz,
mechanical, Spring Drive and
Kinetic Drive (where energy
created by the wearer s movement is
converted to electricity to power the
Like its cross-town rival Citizen, Seiko is sure to
again generate plenty of attention at the Baselworld
watch expo, beginning March 18 in Switzerland.
Seiko Ananta stockists: Smales, 143 Rokeby Rd,
Subiaco, (08) 9382 3222; Mazzucchellis, Shop 207
Carillon Arcade, Murray St, Perth (08) 9485 2127.
For more on Baselworld, check out baselworld.com.
Citizen's analogue solar-
powered watch (right) was the
world's first and forerunner of
models such as the Eco-Drive
World Time (rrp $1800), above.
SWORD PLAY: The case
rotor shape (above) and
hands (right) of the Ananta
Spring Drive (model shown
$5000) all evoke the design of
the Katana, Japan's
legendary samurai sword.
TRIPPING THE LIGHT FANTASTIC
Citizen Watch Co Ltd
CUTTING EDGE OF TRADITION
Japan's "big two" watchmakers, Seiko and Citizen, are throwing
down the gauntlet to their Swiss rivals, as Norman Burns found
during a recent visit to Tokyo.
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