Ricoh is a Japanese electronics company and producer of watches from the 1950s through 1980s.
The origin of watchmaking at Ricoh comes from Takano, a clock manufacturer established in 1899, and a second company, founded in 1913. The company produced metal clocks before the war, and was merged into one company in 1924. It was incorporated in 1938 as Takano Seimitsu Kogyo Co., shortly after switching to weapons manufacturing.
Takano began producing wristwatches using imported movements from Durowe (movement arm of German watch company Laco) in February, 1957. The first series of watches were offered for sale in September. In July of that year, the company agreed to a joint venture with Hamilton in the United States to produce electric watches.
The ultra thin Chateau model was introduced in October 1959, using an in-house movement, and this gained worldwide attention. But the Ise Bay typhoon in September badly damaged the factory and set production back. The model was refined with a thinner but wider movement but this also failed to take hold. Some Chateau models were sold without the Takano name at this time.
Ricoh Watch Ltd.
On May 8, 1962, Takano was taken over by the larger Ricoh company. Takano became Ricoh Watch Ltd. in 1963 and the watches were re-branded as Ricoh from late 1962 onward. Ricoh was founded in 1936 as Riken Kankoshi Co. Ltd., a producer of optics and was successful in cameras and industrial equipment.
The joint venture with Hamilton (which owned a 60% stake) continued, with American movements assembled and cased in Japan for the domestic market there. The movement, Ricoh Cal. 555E, was the same as the Standard Time Cal. 130E or Hamilton Cal. 505. Sales were poor in Japan, with most taking place on US military bases where Seiko was not as strong a competitor. The venture ended in 1965, with some leftover stock sold under the Hamilton Vantage brand in the United States.
Ricoh launched an automatic watch of their own in October 1962. Known as the Dynamic, it had a 33 jewel movement with instantaneous day and date change. After initial quality issues, which resulted in large-scale returns, the movement was perfected and remained in production until the 1990s.