Already in 2012 the Seiko Astron GPS Solar was introduced during the Baselworld exhibition. The Seiko Astron finds its roots in 1969, also called ‘Quartz Astron’. However, without the GPS technology of course. In 2012 Seiko brought us the watch that connects to the GPS network in order to give you the exact time, wherever you are. With the push of one button for 6 seconds the watch connects itself to the GPS network and synchronizes your watch with the accuracy of an atomic clock. This also means automatically correction of the calendar function of the Seiko Astron GPS watch. Even timezones that have a quarter of an hour or half hour difference are being picked up by the Seiko Astron GPS. This official Seiko Astron websiteshows you all aspects of this timepiece, including hands-on instructions.
In short, the Seiko Astron will connect with 1 satellite to adjust the time and to determine its position within any of the 39 timezones we have on this Globe, it connects to a minimum of 4 satellites of the world wide GPS network.
Now, we have to be honest and tell you that our main interest was in the Grand Seiko collection and the Seiko Prospex collection, but this Seiko Astron collection did attract our interest during our Baselworld visit. Besides the high-tech functionality of the Seiko Astron GPS Solar Chronograph caliber 8X32 (GPS controlled time and time zone adjustment, chronograph that records up to 6 hours, perpetual calendar till 2100, signal result indicator, world timer, DST and power save), we were also interested – and assume that our readers are as well – in the quality of the timepiece itself.
We all know the craftsmanship of the Grand Seiko collection and also know the value-for-money aspect of the cheaper Seiko watches (like the Sumo SBDC001 and Monster divers watches), but what about this Seiko Astron GPS Solar Chronograph? They do not come cheap at first sight, starting price is 1800 Euro (reference SSE015 and SSE017) and up to approximately 3300 Euro for the limited edition (pictured below) of 7,000 pieces only.
The Seiko Astron GPS Solar Chronograph reference SSE001, pictured below, is a 45mm watch made out of titanium with a super-hard coating and a ceramic bezel. The Seiko Astron SSE001 feels like a very solid watch, easy to operate and a feast for the eyes if you are into highly functional watches. Look at the crown for example, highly polished with this hobnail finish and (therefor) very easy to grasp. The overal finish on case and bracelet are basically what you expect in this price range of roughly 2000 – 3500 Euro. The most important thing is that people should be comfortable spending this kind of money on a quartz watch, but we’ve been comfortable doing that in the past with the discontinued Speedmaster X-33 for example anyway.
The models below are the (from top to bottom) Seiko Astron GPS SSE017, SSE013 and SSE011. The SSE011 and SSE013 have a price tag of approximately 1900 Euro and the SSE017 is approximately 1800 Euro. This of course has to do with the difference bracelets, the SSE017 has a silicon strap instead of a stainless steel bracelet. The SSE017 and SSE013 are stainless steel watches with a black hard coating, the SSE011 is the stainless steel version with a translucent coating. The limited edition SSE001 as discussed above is very similar to these versions, but has a titanium case of course and some detailers that seem to have a nicer finish. At least optically. The shape of the pushers is also different as well as the crown guard and its finish. We can clearly see why the Seiko Astron GPS SSE001 has a higher price tag than the others mentioned.
The Seiko Astron SSE001 is considered to be the flag ship model of the – in total – 26 models of the Seiko Astron collection. The versions mentioned in this article will be available from September 2014. This might vary per country or region though.