When mentioning the Seiko brand, we think of watches with innovation, reliability, and value. The Japanese watch house has been standing for over a century, and still going strong thanks to the visionaries who shaped its horological journey.

In the third installment of our “People Behind Seiko” series, we delve into the life and contributions of Tsuneya Nakamura, a key figure in Seiko's evolution.


The Early Years

Source: Plus9Time

Tsuneya Nakamura was born in 1923, and joined Seiko in 1944, a pivotal era in Seiko's history. Japan was rebuilding itself after the ravages of World War II, and it was during these transformative years that Nakamura found his path. Seiko was struggling a bit to differentiate itself at the time as their production facilities were not up to the era’s standards, and designs were seen as ‘too European’.

This all changed when Tsuneya Nakamura asked his higher ups for resources so that he may develop a modern watch that will put Seiko back on people’s radars.


Pioneering Spirit

A few years later, Tsuneya Nakamura’s hard work would result in the Seiko Marvel, a very aptly named watch as it was truly a watch ahead of its time, ushering the watch brand to a period of great commercial success. The Marvel won Tsuneya Nakamura many awards, propelling his name to the global watchmaking scene.


Source: Seiko Watch Design


It’s successor, the Gyro Marvel, introduced the now infamous “Magic Lever” which has become a key component for self-winding watches. This system combines improved efficiency with a lower required number of parts making it superior to Swiss-style winding systems, thus becoming a staple in many of Seiko’s watches while also being licensed by Swiss and German watchmakers up to this day.


The Quartz Revolution

Source: Hodinkee


His most notable achievement came in the Christmas of 1969 when Seiko unveiled the Astron, the world's first quartz watch. Nakamura's pioneering work in the development of quartz movements would revolutionize the watch industry, making timekeeping more precise and accessible and providing the blueprint for billions of timepieces produced thereon.

The Seiko Astron was a seismic shift in the watch world. It boasted accuracy previously unimaginable in mechanical watches and was smaller and more reliable than earlier electronic timepieces. This breakthrough in quartz technology didn't just propel Seiko to the global stage; it marked a turning point in horology that (not to be overly dramatic) brought the giant Swiss watchmaking industry to its knees.

The Astron can undoubtedly be considered the highlight of Tsuneya Nakamura’s career.


A Great Man in Horology and Beyond


Tsuneya Nakamura would continue his efforts to improve Suwa Seikosha (later becoming Seiko Epson) and later being elected as its chairman, allowing him to continue making progress in business and industry while also working on environmentally friendly watch technologies, like the Thermic and Kinetic movements.

He also addressed environmental concerns, especially regarding substances like CFCs, earning him six "Stratospheric Ozone Protection Awards" from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Nakamura also initiated local programs within the Epson group, promoting community well-being through activities like reducing waste and cleaning up coasts.

He retired in 1994 at the age of 71 after dedicating 50 years to Seiko. This allowed him to sponsor various foundations supporting education, science, and music through generous donations.


A Legacy of Innovation

Tsuneya Nakamura's work laid the foundation for Seiko's enduring success. His visionary contributions to quartz technology, chronograph movements, and overall modernization have left an indelible mark on the brand and the entire watch industry. Today, Seiko's quartz watches are celebrated for their reliability and accuracy, thanks to Nakamura's legacy.

Nakamura's story reflects the broader Seiko spirit of innovation and pushing boundaries. The brand has continued to pioneer new technologies, from kinetic movements to Spring Drive, always staying at the forefront of the watchmaking world.


Wrap Up

Tsuneya Nakamura's journey with Seiko encapsulates the brand's ethos of innovation and precision. His groundbreaking work in quartz technology forever changed the way the world keeps time, and his legacy continues to inspire both Seiko and watch enthusiasts worldwide. As we reflect on his contributions, we invite you to discover the world of Seiko and create your unique timepiece.

At namokiMODS, we admire Seiko's rich heritage and the dedication of visionaries like Tsuneya Nakamura. Our collection of watch mod parts is curated to help you explore your own creativity with Seiko watches. Whether you're in search of OEM Seiko spare parts or aftermarket watch components, we're your gateway to a world of possibilities, so be sure to check out our catalog to find premium aftermarket parts that will help turn your own watch into the best it can be.

Happy modding!

October 16, 2023 — Jeremiah A

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