Watchmaking in Japan

A year of symbols for Japan


June 2024

A year of symbols for Japan

An interesting development, perhaps even a major shift, is taking place in Japanese watchmaking. The Japanese watch industry has long set itself up to be everything that Swiss watchmaking is not, focusing on volume and accessibility while the Swiss produced fewer pieces at higher prices. However, the “Swiss model” of heading upmarket seems to be gaining traction in Japan as well. Although synonymous with its heavy industry, Japan can also boast an age-old artisanal heritage and an extremely refined culture.


he pandemic’s effects on the structure of the watch industry, including lower sales volumes and a focus on tried-and-true, heritage and iconic models, coupled with the onslaught of smartwatches, are giving Japanese watch industry strategists food for thought. Although the move upmarket had already begun before 2020, this new era only confirms the trend.

The international success of Grand Seiko (and soon Credor?) is driving change in the global perception of Japanese watchmaking. At the same time, the emergence of a growing number of independent Japanese watchmakers, the best-known being Hajime Asaoka, has brought greater diversity to the ecosystem as a whole. The Japanese watch industry is capable of supplying calibres to the world and, in parallel, producing some of the rarest and most refined watches. This dimension is also reminiscent of the rich community of independents who have been instrumental in elevating Swiss watchmaking creativity across the industry.

The year 2024 is symbolic in a country already highly attuned to symbols, due to the coincidence of an extraordinary number of anniversaries: the 100th anniversary of the first Seiko wristwatch, the 100th anniversary of the Citizen watch, the 50th anniversary of Casio watches, the 50th anniversary of Credor and more. And that’s why we thought it would be a good idea to dedicate this issue to a watchmaking industry that no doubt has many more surprises up its sleeve. Come with us on a journey of discovery through the highly diverse faces of Japanese horology.

The Europa Star Newsletter