Most people know Citizen, Seiko, and Casio as important watch brands. In fact, that is only part of their parent corporations’ operations and business. Seiko (through Seiko Epson) is one of the world’s top computer printer makers, Casio’s parent (Casio Computer Co.) is famous for its handheld computers, and Citizen Watch Co. also produces electronics (quartz oscillators, PC cards) and machine tools.
The non-watch businesses of these corporations are growing in size and profits, while their watch divisions have become proportionately smaller. At Seiko Group, 45% of business is non-watch. Citizen’s is 54% of the total and will increase to 70% next year. At Casio, timepieces are just 21% of net sales. It might seem that the watch divisions are becoming less important-and even irrelevant-to their parent firms.
In fact, just the opposite is true.
“Watches will stay a core business of the Seiko Group and of great importance, even though we have several non-watch businesses,” says Seiko Corp. executive vice president Hiroshi Harigaya. “There are certainly many new opportunities, but it is the watch businesses which provide the innovations and new technologies for other product areas. For example, the people at Seiko Epson [which makes printers, computers, semiconductors, and quartz timing devices as well as watches and watch movements], recognize that every business they generate uses key technology developed for the precision manufacture of watches and machined parts.”
Katsuaki Noji, president of Citizen Trading Co., agrees. “Despite the growth in Citizen’s non-watch business, Hiroshi Harigaya, president of the Citizen group, clearly told employees [last year] that all the technology applied to this non-watch business comes from original watch technology. So, essential watch technology is very important for us; with it, we can develop other non-watch businesses.
“We should certainly use the opportunity to expand our other businesses during this booming time. But,” he adds with a smile, speaking slowly with emphasis, “we have no intention of changing the name of the parent company-Citizen Watch Co.”