A Tour of the Seiko-Epson Factory
October 15th, 2008
By: John B. Holbrook, II
Copyright 2008 – All Rights Reserved
As part of the 2008 Seiko Media Experience, I was given the opportunity to tour the Seiko-Epson factory (Seiko owns Epson) in Shiojiri Japan. The factory (708 total employees) is the focal point for Seiko “high horology” as well as being the main production facility for all things Spring Drive. Here’s a photo of the facility:
Here’s a photo of me in front of the factory:
The main reception desk:
A display area showing the Grand Seiko and Credor Spring Drive models which are produced at this factory:
Seiko has an actual “museum” – the Seiko Institute of Horology, which I had toured the day before. But The Seiko-Epson Factory also had it’s own small “museum” in the lobby area with some impressive displays:
After touring the 1st floor displays and museums, the group was taken upstairs to a conference room. About half the day was spent being listening to presentations with the Seiko Spring Drive being the central theme. If one message was made abundantly clear during the Seiko Media Experience, it was the Spring Drive message. Helping us as journalists to understand and better appreciate the Spring Drive movement was mission critical for Seiko.
Housed within the Shiojiri factory is the Shinshu Watch Studio. The Shinshu Watch Studio is actually comprised of three different, independent and highly specialized studios:
The Jewelry Studio – handles precious metal processing and diamond setting.
Takumi Studio – The Takumi (mastery) Studio handles the manual assembly of high grade movements and casing parts, as well as the assembling of the Spring Drive movement and 9T series.
Micro Artists Studio – Manual processing, assembly, and adjusting of higher-grade movements through fine tuning, as well as R&D and design.
The first studio we toured was the Micro Artist Studios. The guys that work here are the “Rock Stars” of Seiko. The Micro Artist Studio isn’t exactly glamorous though, and something of a running joke at Seiko. In fact, it’s not much more than a closet under a stairwell:
Here’s a shot of Kenji Shichara and Yoshirusa Nakazawa – two of the most prominent “Micro Artists.”
Here’s Yoshirusa Nakazawa working on assembling the roughly 15.75 million yen (about $170,000.00 US at current exchange rates) Credor Spring Drive Sonnerie:
Here’s Yoshirusa Nakazawa demonstrating the miniature Buddhist gong which served as the basis for the sound of the Credor Spring Drive Sonnerie:
The finished product:
After we toured the Micro Artists studio, we got to see some fantastic examples of Seiko engraving work:
We then moved out into the plant and saw some assembly work being done:
Accuracy testing stations:
Inspecting the final product:
I hope you enjoyed this pictorial tour of the Seiko-Epson Factory in Shiojiri – it was certainly a fascinating experience for me, and I’m very grateful to Seiko for the opportunity. In my next Seiko factory tour report, we’ll see the Seiko Instruments factory in Shizukuishi.
**Photos & Text Copyright 2008 WATCH TALK FORUMS. No part of this report can be reproduced outside of WATCH TALK FORUMS without the expressed permission of John B. Holbrook, II.