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New: Seiko re-edition: 1969 Quartz Astron 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Caliber 3X22

by Peter Chong on October 31, 2019
Overview
Brand

Seiko Quartz Astron 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Caliber 3X22

Complication / Type of Watch

GPS controlled time and time zone adjustment
Perpetual calendar correct to the year 2100

Recommended Retail Price

Approximate recommended retail price in Europe: €38,000

On 25th December 1969, Seiko introduced the world’s first quartz wristwatch – the Astron. Today, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the original Quartz Astron, a new creation in the Astron GPS Solar collection pays tribute to its celebrated predecessor. Available from December 2019, the Seiko Quartz Astron 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Caliber 3X22.

Seiko Quartz Astron 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Caliber 3X22.

Press Release with commentary

Fifty years ago, Seiko edged out the Swiss consortia in announcing the world’s first quartz wristwatch.

The original Seiko Quartz Astron from 1969. Released after ten years of research and development at Suwa Seikosha (currently named Seiko Epson). Within one week 100 gold watches had been sold, at a retail price of 450,000 yen (US$1,250) each (at the time, equivalent to the price of a Toyota Corolla)

This watch was announced ahead of the Swiss announcement which was made in Baselworld 1970. And remains as 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.

Quartz Movement of the Seiko Astron, 1969 (Deutsches Uhrenmuseum, Inv. Inv. 2010-006)

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.

The Astron name was revived in 2012 when the world’s first GPS solar watch was launched. 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.

The Astron name continues to be bourne by high accuracy watches, the latest before this announcement is the Seiko Astron GPS Solar Dual Time 5×53 from 2018.

Today, on the fiftieth anniversary of the original Quartz Astron, Seiko releases a new creation in the Astron GPS Solar collection pays tribute to its celebrated predecessor and brings together the two revolutionary advances in watchmaking history that share the Astron name.

Read the Seiko Astron history here!

Seiko Quartz Astron 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Caliber 3X22

The case features a magnificently hand-worked texture, similar to what we saw in the very beautiful Grand Seiko 6145-8030 Hi-Beat.

This new limited edition watch brings back to life the form and design of the 1969 Quartz Astron in its entirety. Both the elegance of the celebrated timepiece and its characteristically futuristic feel are reflected in the curved silhouette of the case, the wide case lugs and the thin bezel. Like the 1969 watch, the case is in 18K yellow gold, and features a beautiful texture. This texture is similar to the hand work used in the Grand Seiko 6145-8030 Hi-Beat reviewed in the link. While in the GS 6145, the texture is hand hammered, one blow at a time, the Astron’s texture is achieved by hand carving each divot, one at a time.

The dial is set within a deep, beveled rehaut, and has a subtle vertical hairline pattern and the hands and multi-faceted indexes are thin and carry a black line on the surface, just as on the first Quartz Astron.

The limited edition watch houses a new GPS Solar movement that allows it to have the slimness and grace of the 1969 watch’s form. The new Caliber 3X22 is the world’s thinnest (as of October 31, 2019, based on Seiko literature) GPS solar caliber. This is similar to the Caliber 5X53 used in the 2018 Astron GPS watch which we reviewed here.

Reduced to its essentials of time adjustment and timekeeping (compared to the 5X53, the 3X22 does not have a World Time Display and automatic DST), the watch connects automatically up to twice a day to the GPS network to maintain its precision of one second every 100,000 years, and when time zone adjustment is required, with a simple push of a single button, the hands move faster than ever thanks to the system that moves each hand independently.

This watch is available as a limited edition of just 50 in December, 2019 at selected Seiko boutiques and selected retail stores worldwide.

The Seiko 1969 Quartz Astron 50th Anniversary Limited Edition
Caliber 3X22

Features
GPS controlled time and time zone adjustment
Perpetual calendar correct to the year 2100
High Speed Time Zone adjustment
Signal reception result indication
Power save function
Accuracy: ±15 seconds per month (without receiving a GPS signal and at temperatures between 5°C and 35°C)

Specifications
18K yellow gold case and clasp
Box-shaped sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
Water resistance: 10 bar
Magnetic resistance: 4,800 A/m
Diameter: 40.9mm, Thickness: 12.8mm
Crocodile strap with three-fold clasp with push button release
Approximate recommended retail price in Europe: €38,000
Limited edition of 50

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