Seiko Museum Visit – Part 1

Musings: Happy New Year ! I am extremely grateful to Jude for sharing his Seiko Museum Visit as I could not think of a better way to kick off the New Year! 

This is Jude and this is a long overdue post from my Tokyo trip where I visited the shrine for Seiko lovers: Seiko Museum. Very interesting exhibit, not just for Seiko watches, but the history of timekeeping and Seiko itself. This post is to share my experience to let the readers have a better picture of what to expect inside this museum.

Getting there

The museum is located near a station called Higashimukojima, which is along the Tobu Skytree Line. It is quite far from Shinjuku but you can take this chance to swing by the famous places of Asakusa and Tokyo Skytree, which is not too far from the museum. For someone who is going to the museum the first time, I strongly recommend using GPS because it’s located in a quiet place in the middle of a residential estate and requires walking through several streets and main roads after you leave the station. You can refer to this link for a great guide on how to get there:

http://www.thewatchsite.com/21-japanese-watch-discussion-forum/45344-directions-tokyo-seiko-museum.html

NOTE: I made a booking for an English guide via a contact in Japan. I highly recommend getting an English guide, not sure if this is compulsory, but the English translated tour was very important for me to have a more holistic understanding of the museum exhibits. The tour is highly informative and the guide is very knowledgeable and provides a lot of value-add on top of the exhibits.

KIMASHITA (Reached!)

You will see this view of the museum first when you walk over from the Higashimukojima station. This is the back of the building.

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Back of the Seiko Museum

Walk to the other side and you will see the front, with a Grand Seiko advert at the second floor.

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Front view of the museum

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More pictures of the front view with the Grand Seiko advertisement

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Main entrance of the museum

You will see some lockers and Seiko souvenirs for sale after entering.

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One of the souvenirs, a yellow Seiko clock with alarm and light. I couldn’t resist and bought it after the tour.

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You will also see some Grand Seikos on display here.

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At the entrance of the exhibition after the reception area, you will also see a GPS Astron advert and a hologram watch. Quite cool.

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Hologram watch. Looks like it’s there but it’s not there.

Tour starts

The tour starts on level 1 with how early timekeeping started with the sundial.

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Sundial as an early timekeeping tool

Next is an interesting minitature model of the Suiun-Gishodai. The guide shared that this was a tower that was used to tell time, and it is the world’s first escapement clock. (http://museum.seiko.co.jp/en/collections/clock_watch/category1/collect004.html)

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Miniature model of the Suiun-Gishodai

Next was pocket watches, now an object carried only for novelty. I particularly like the blue one with gold details. If I remember correctly, this is a repeater where the figures on the side will use the hammer to strike the bell in the middle.

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Notice the figures on the side. The hands with the hammer will move and hit the bells

After that, I saw something epic; an actual prototype of the Big Ben clock. Yes, that Westminster clock, Big Ben, in London.

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Next you will see a bunch of other watches in the same area. I took pictures of some of them.

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Hi-beat Lord Marvels

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The legendary Bulova Accutron

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A VFA Quartz. VFA means very fine adjusted and they used to do VFA even for quartz and this was during the time of the Quartz crisis when mechanical accuracy were nowhere close to that of quartz watches.

There is also an entire segment dedicated to sports. Timekeeping is very important in sports, be it athletics, racing, etc. This part focuses on the Tokyo Olympics 1964 where Seiko was tasked to timekeep for this event. They showed the world what they can do.

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Timer used for swimming. When the swimmer touches the board, the time stops. The guide challenged me to stop it at a certain timing. If I stopped on the dot, I will get a free souvenir. I failed.

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Tokyo Olympics 1964 instruments

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Instruments for timekeeping for sprinting

Level 2 tour. The tour continues

The tour continues to the second floor. It starts with traditional Japanese clocks such as incense, weight-driven clocks, etc.

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The clock below is an innovation to weight driven clocks in the late Edo period. It uses a double foliat balance. Before this, weight driven clocks must be repositioned twice a day at sunrise and sunset. With this innovation in the switching mechanism, the repositioning is reduced to 24 times a year. (http://museum.seiko.co.jp/en/collections/clock_watch/category4/collect001.html)

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Double foliat mechanism for a weight driven clock in the Edo period

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Next are modern clocks.

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One of the early clocks made by Kintaro Hattori. He started with watches/clocks repair and went on to make watches/clocks and the rest is history.

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Unique clock with fantastic details

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Unique gold clock driven by a ball bearing

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Close up of the ball bearing

Next up is the exhibit on the Seiko buildings. I went to the iconic Seiko building in Ginza after the museum trip, and it was pretty cool. I will try to see if I can cover that trip in more detail in future.

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Pictures of the Seiko buildings

One of my favourite exhibit in the museum is the one below. This object is actually the melted mass of pocket watches during the Great Kanto Earthquake. With the factory and everything destroyed in the earthquake, Mr Hattori showed true dedication to his customers when he offered new pocket watches to customers who contacted the repair shops without their receipt slips. I was amazed by his dedication to customers. You can feel the dedication of Seiko from this, and even today, you feel this through their products.

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A symbol of dedication to serving customers

Looking at the length of this post, I think I shall make a stop here and continue the rest in a part 2 post. The part 2 post will cover wristwatches, navigation, quartz, spring drive, Grand Seikos, etc. Hope you enjoy part 1 and stay tuned to the second part.

 

 

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