Seiko recently announced a tribute timepiece that pays homage to its original quartz timepiece, which started the quartz crisis, the 1969 Quartz Astron 50th Anniversary Limited Edition.
Quartz Astron 35SQ from 1969
“On December 25 fifty years ago, Seiko introduced the world’s first quartz wristwatch. It was a watch that revolutionized the watchmaking industry and its launch remains one of the most important landmarks in Seiko’s history. The Quartz Astron set a new standard in wristwatch precision with an accuracy rate of +-5 seconds per month, made possible by several technological advances including the tuning fork-shaped quartz oscillator and the open type step motor which are still standard components of quartz watches today. Soon after the launch of the Quartz Astron, Seiko opened most of its patents to the world, a move that helped bring the advantages of quartz timekeeping within the reach of all. In 2004, the Quartz Astron received the IEEE Milestone Award for its breakthrough contribution which is today widely used not only in horology but also in a vast range of other electronic applications. The Seiko Quartz Astron is recognized as one of Japan’s greatest achievements, giving all mankind access to high precision timekeeping and changing the way time was told around the world,” according to Seiko.
Decades later, Seiko introduced another innovative new technology to quartz wristwatches, and so this timepiece is not just a tribute to their most important achievement, the invention of the first quartz watch, but also the first GPS calibrated solar-powered watch.
GPS Solar Seiko Astron
“The Astron name was revived in 2012 when the world’s first GPS solar watch was launched. Like its predecessor, the Astron GPS Solar took electronic watchmaking to new levels with its ability to connect to the GPS network and adjust to every time zone at the touch of a button while taking all the energy it needed from light, never needing a battery change.”
1969 Quartz Astron 50th Anniversary Limited Edition
Visually, this limited edition is a remake of the original 1969 Quartz Astron, presented in a 40.9 mm x 12.8 mm (slightly larger than the original) 18K yellow gold cushion-shaped case, which has been hand-carved (engraved). The dial has a unique vertical grained pattern, topped by 18K yellow gold hands and multi-faceted indexes, painted with black to contrast the otherwise all yellow-gold hue, just like on the original Quartz Astron.
The screw-in caseback reads “Commemorating the 50th anniversary of Quartz Astron, released on Dec 25, 1969,” “Limited Edition,” and “X/50.” The dial is protected by a box-type sapphire crystal. Water-resistance is 100 meters.
A new movement was created for this watch, and surely for other models to come, which allows this modern watch to have the slimness of the 1969 model. The new caliber 3X22 is “the world’s thinnest GPS solar movement,” according to the manufacturer, to be fitted inside a wristwatch case.
The high-end quartz movement connects automatically up to twice a day to the GPS network to maintain its precision of one second every 100,000 years (and 15 seconds a month even if the GPS signal is not received), and when time zone adjustment is required, with a simple push of a single button (one of the recessed pushers on the case flank), the hands move fast thanks to the system that moves each hand independently. The tuning-fork runs at 32,768 Hz and the power reserve is 6-months while GPS mode is active, or 2 years in power save mode.
In addition to the unique hour changing, the date is also highly advanced and can give the proper date until 2100 (it’s a perpetual calendar date function accurate until February 28, 2100), without any user correction so long as the watch stays charged and set.
The Seiko 1969 Quartz Astron 50th Anniversary Limited Edition comes in a special wooden presentation box and is available beginning December 2019 at Seiko boutiques worldwide. Limited edition of 50 numbered pieces. (Ref. SBXD002)
Retail is $36,000.