New and hands-on review: Seiko Astron GPS Solar Dual-Time 5X53

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This just in: Seiko announces the world’s smallest and thinnest GPS solar watch, with the newly developed Seiko Astron 5X movement. We were in Nagano Prefecture and managed to photograph and spend some time with the watches. Six new watches are announced, and we have live photographs and hands-on impressions on two of them. 

All photographs (except the composite of all 6 new watches) are original and taken using available lighting in a beautiful meeting room with windows on two sides. Photograph of the room can be seen here.



Seiko Astron GPS Solar Dual-Time 5X53

Seiko first introduced the Astron in 2012, and despite naysayers who proclaimed that it was way too expensive for a Seiko, it has been a runaway success, and year after year have kept the pricing at around the S$3.5k-4k mark ever since. This bears out as the watch is practical for world travellers, where real life advantages of a technology such as the Seiko GPS Solar wins fans. Since 2012, the collection has expanded to included a Chronograph, Dual-Time, World-Time and Big Date versions.

The 5X starts a new chapter. It is an entirely new caliber, and according to Seiko…as at 1 August 2018, it is the smallest and thinnest GPS solar watch in the world.



The case, dial and hands

The dial is laid out very clearly and logically, with the large hour and minute hands showing local time. The dial is three dimensional with bold hands.

A smaller sub-dial at 6 indicates home time. A sub-dial at 3 indicates the day of the week on the local time, and an AM/PM indicator is set within. Another sub-dial at 9 acts as a function indicator and a power reserve indicator. The case is in titanium, with alternate polished and brushed surfaces. Case and indices are polished with the Zaratsu technique.


The dial has depth, and the layout is well thought out. This version have a sapphire bezel marked with the hours and names of the cities around the globe.


Functionality and speed of operations is improved with the 5X, and every component in the GPS module has been re-engineered.

What impressed us is the speed in which the hands move with each change in timezone, for example it takes only 3 seconds to move 14 hours from Tokyo to New York time. This is because the Seiko engineers have designed the watch to have independent motors to move the hour, minute and seconds hand independently. Daylight Savings Time is automatically accounted for as the watch keeps a perpetual calendar. It even keeps track of the leap second for UTC…the most recent one being December 31, 2016 at 23:59:60 UTC.


The Astron 5X is solar powered and the dial has depth and very clear and legible. This version uses a ceramic bezel.


Changing timezones are a one-touch method (in essence two buttons are pressed simultaneously for a specific period of time), where the Astron 5X adjusts by connecting to the GPS satelite network. We tried this outdoors in Nagano, and indeed it takes only a few seconds for the watch to log on to the GPS signal and make the necessary changes.


The Astron 5X movement

Precision of the watch is maintained by a quartz mechanism, but which is synchronized twice a day to the atomic clock in the GPS statelite. The first connection is made after the dial sensor detects sunlight and the second is made at a time pre-determined and set by the owner. Practically, this is usually performed by the dealer when one purchases the watch. As a result, accuracy is an impressive 1 second deviation every 100,000 years. Without GPS connection, the quartz movement keeps time to the standard +/- 15 per month accuracy.

The watch is light powered and never needs a battery change, which is also a big advantage for a ready to go travel watch.



Wear and usage impressions

The case is still rather large, though it is the smallest of its genre. All versions except SSH009/011 (which are larger by 1mm in both diameter and height), which are 43.5mm in diameter and 13.3mm in height. The watches are in titanium with titanium bracelet, and are very light and comfortable on the wrist. The use of titanium is important for a travel watch for hypoallergenic and weight advantages, as is a bracelet for use in hot and humid climates.

A new buckle system, where the user can make small adjustments is incorporated, and this is an important feature for the traveller as temperature, cabin pressure and other changes can expand or contract the wrist,



But as is expected of a watch with so many features, the functions need to be learnt to ensure that all the advanced features are being made use of. The operation is not totally intuitive during the half an hour or so we spent with the watch, but the sequences for the buttons to be pressed do make logical sense, and we think, with a bit of familiarization, will prove to be a breeze.

The new 5X caliber will be available in December 2018 in four design variations, including one limited edition of 2,000, inspired by the remarkable astronomical phenomenon of the supernova, a star that, at the end of its life, explodes and releases vast amounts of energy. In addition to these four creations, two more will be added in February 2019, each with a bezel using sapphire crystal and ceramic.


Seiko Astron GPS Solar Dual-Time 5X53 Technical Specifications



From the press release:

Caliber 5X53
GPS controlled time and time zone adjustment
Dual-Time with AM/PM indication
Perpetual calendar correct to the year 2100
Automatic DST adjustment function
High speed time zone adjustment
Time transfer function
Signal reception result indication
World time function (39 time zones)
Power save function
Accuracy: +/-15 seconds per month
(without receiving a GPS signal and at temperatures between 5°C and 35°C)

Titanium case with super-hard coating (SSH001/003/007/009/011)
Titanium case with super-hard rose gold color coating (SSH006)
Ceramic bezel (SSH001/003/006/007)
Sapphire crystal and ceramic bezel (SSH009/011)
Sapphire crystal with super-clear coating
Water resistance: 10 bar
Magnetic resistance: 4,800 A/m
Diameter: 42.9mm, Thickness: 12.2mm (SSH001/003/006/007)
Diameter: 43.5mm, Thickness: 13.3mm (SSH009/011)
Titanium with super-hard coating bracelet (SSH001/003)
Titanium with super-hard coating and ceramic bracelet (SSH007/009/011)
Extra-strength silicone strap (SSH006)
Easy adjust three-fold clasp with push button release
Approximate recommended retail prices in Europe:
2,200 Euro (SSH001/003/006) / 2,400 Euro (SSH007) / 2,600 Euro (SSH009/011)


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