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Watches Join Cars as Reliable Japanese Products

Dec 5, 2007
The Swiss have been always been known for producing finely crafted goods including watches and clocks and were long considered by many to be the undisputed champs in precision and reliability. But in this corner, we have a new contender and, like this Swiss, they are geographically small and short on natural material resources.

What these two have in common is a drive for perfection and a keen interest in maintaining their hard earned reputations. The Japanese, long thought of as producing reliable and functional cars and cameras have become a major force in the world of wrist watches.

One needs to go back to the end of World War II to understand fully just how the Japanese have progressed in producing competitively priced and highly reliable consumers goods from the ashes of war. Post war Japan was in a shambles with its economy and commercial infrastructure destroyed. What commercial interests that did survive had very limited access to raw materials or machine tooling. With the help of its former enemies, Japan began a slow and painful process of rebuilding its shattered economic base.

Attempting to produce goods in a hurry, quality suffered and the term Made in Japan became synonymous with shoddy merchandise of very dubious quality. A handful of Japanese entrepreneurs like Akio Morita the founder of Sony saw opportunity in tragedy and set about to change the public perception of goods produced in and exported from Japan.

Meanwhile, the Swiss, having been spared the fate that befell Japan, continued on a steady path of producing goods that were not only in demand but carried an aura of craftsmanship and style. Out of necessity, the Japanese had to do more with less and reinvent how products were designed and manufactured. An American, Dr. W. Edward Deming had a profound impact on reshaping the manufacturing landscape in Japan that endures today.

Deming, along with other like minded professionals helped the Japanese to establish entirely new systems that integrated the processes of design, engineering, production and quality control. A key ingredient of the Deming model was the inclusion of customer service into the production process and can still be seen in modern business models worldwide.

As history shows us, the result was the creation of a manufacturing powerhouse that became the eventual model for many American manufacturers.

These tremendous strides in the way consumer goods were produced in Japan was not lost on watch makers. For example, the Citizen Watch Company has been producing quality precision watches and timepieces since the company was founded in 1930. Japanese manufacturers saw great opportunity in the development of highly precise machine tools supporting everything from automobile production to the manufacture of aircraft.

Taking the wise counsel they received from Dr. Deming, many Japanese companies expanded on Demings Fourteen Principles and began to incorporate the engineering philosophy of design for manufacturability.

The guiding principle behind this philosophy was to integrate the design and manufacturing functions, which in turn led to increased production efficiencies and increased levels of quality. These lessons were not lost on the growing Citizen Company and the result was the production of very precise watch components, greater reliability and ease of repair.

The Seiko Company was a major of clocks and watches, producing its first wrist watches beginning in nineteen thirteen, with the brand name of Seiko first appearing on timepieces in nineteen twenty four. They too adopted many of Demings principles in the post war era and, like Citizen, have became a brand name well known for quality and innovation having introduced the first digital watch that featured a multifunction design not found on other digital wrist watches.
About the Author
Mitch Endick is a short article writer for the popular watch and jewelry site: http://www.watchbuyershandbook.com. He provides informative advice on buying watches, watch making and other timepieces.
www.watchbuyershandbook.com
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