The 1969 Quartz Astron 50th Anniversary Limited Edition.
The 1969 Quartz Astron 50th Anniversary Limited Edition.
Image: Supplied

On Christmas Day in 1969, Seiko introduced the first quartz wristwatch to the world. The Seiko Quartz Astron 35 SQ featured several technological advances, including a tuning-fork shaped quartz oscillator and an open-type step motor, which are still found in quartz watches today. At the time, the company reportedly sold 100 gold models – only in Japan – in a week for the price of a midsized car. This watch revolutionised the industry and set new standards in precision, boasting accuracy to 0.2 seconds per day, 5 seconds per month, or one minute per year.

Seiko revived the Astron name in 2012 through another groundbreaking invention when they introduced the first GPS receiver to a watch which adjusts to different time zones at the touch of a button. The Astron GPS Solar also created energy from light thus never requiring a battery change. This was followed by the launch of the GPS Solar Big-Date in 2017 with its Calibre 8X42 which adjusts automatically to time zones. 

As a tribute to the original Astron, Seiko has combined these two revolutionary advances in watchmaking in the 18K yellow gold “The 1969 Quartz Astron 50th Anniversary Limited Edition”. It is not an identical reproduction but the form and design of the original are observed in this celebratory edition.

It is brought to life with a new Calibre 3X22, the world’s thinnest GPS solar movement, which connects automatically up to twice a day to the GPS network to maintain its precision of 1 second every 100 000 years. Manual time-zone adjustments and other settings can be made at the touch of a button.

The elegant round dial, with its thin bezel, is more concave but is set on a familiar hand-carved, curved tonneau case 40.9mm x 12.8mm thick. The dial, with its vertical hairline pattern, also features some updates including a floating “Seiko” logo, “GPS Solar” legend, a date window and a deep, tapered chapter ring. As the GPS module relies on a number of satellites for accuracy, there are “Y” and “N” markings on the chapter ring, which indicate how strong the connection is once it has a lock on your new location.

This edition is presented with a crocodile strap with an 18K gold, three-fold clasp.

FIRST AUTOMATIC CHRONOGRAPH

The futuristic Quartz Astron 35SQ stole much of the limelight from another of Seiko’s important milestones. This was the same year they launched the Calibre 6139, one of the world’s first automatic chronographs, and the first to incorporate both a column wheel and a vertical clutch –now seen as prerequisites for any premium chronograph. A new Prospex limited edition commemorates this landmark and uses Seiko’s most celebrated chronograph Calibre 8R48.

Seiko Prospex Automatic Chronograph 50th Anniversary Limited Edition.
Seiko Prospex Automatic Chronograph 50th Anniversary Limited Edition.
Image: Supplied
1970s ‘Panda' Chronograph.
1970s ‘Panda' Chronograph.
Image: Supplied

The design of the Seiko Automatic Chronograph 50th Anniversary Limited Edition of 1,000 is based on the “Panda” chronograph from 1970, with its two black sub-dials set against the white dial. The chronograph’s seconds hand features the same orange tip.

NEW GENERATION

Seiko Astron 5X Series 50th Anniversary Limited Edition.
Seiko Astron 5X Series 50th Anniversary Limited Edition.
Image: Supplied

The 1969 Quartz Astron 50th Anniversary Limited Edition is part of the company’s Astron GPS Solar sub-brand introduced in 2012 and is joined by the special edition Astron 5X Series, equipped with a new supersmart sensor to enhance the speed and quality of the GPS connection.

Seiko compares the difference in time-zone update speeds between its new 5X Series movement (Calibre 5X53) and older 8X Series by siting the adjustment from Tokyo to New York as an impressive 3 seconds, compared to 34 seconds. This new 42.7mm Astron, with its ceramic-coated stainless steel case, also claims to be the slimmest GPS solar watch at 13.5mm. It is water-resistant to 100m and is limited to 1 500 pieces. Both editions have a perpetual calendar to February 28 2100.

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