Seiko Astron: The First Watch With GPS and Solar
The Seiko Aston collection offers high-tech wristwatches with perpetual calendars. Thanks to GPS and solar power, they always show the correct time regardless of location. Top models also boast a chronograph or dual-time complication.
A Stylish High-Tech Watch From Japan
In 2012, Seiko presented the Astron GPS Solar – the world's first wristwatch to feature solar power and a GPS receiver. More than 40 years after introducing the first quartz wristwatch, the Japanese watch manufacturer raised the bar once more. The Seiko Astron GPS Solar receives GPS signals from multiple satellites and sets itself to the current local time via the miniaturized ring antenna under its bezel. This technology takes 39 or 40 time zones into account, depending on the model and caliber.
The timepiece deviates only one second in 100,000 years since it resets itself once a day – a level of accuracy mechanical watches will never reach. This quartz watch's perpetual calendar won't require manual correction until March 1, 2100. That year will not be a leap year, despite one being due. The sporty men's watches use solar power, meaning they don't need to rely on environmentally-unfriendly battery power.
The Seiko Astron is also available with an outsize date, a dual-time, or a cchronograph. The chronograph enables the wearer to time periods of up to six hours in increments of a fifth of a second. Highlights of the Astron collection include limited editions, such as the 2,500-piece Seiko Astron Novak Djokovic Limited Edition ref. SSE022J1.
Reasons to Buy a Seiko Astron
- The world's first watch with solar and GPS
- Giugiaro Design ref. SSE121J1 limited to a run of 3,000 pieces
- Seiko Astron GPS solar chronograph for timing
- With a second time zone: Astron GPS Solar Dual Time
Prices at a Glance: Seiko Astron
|Model, reference number||Price (approx.)||Features|
|GPS Solar Giugiaro Design, SSE121J1||3,700 USD||Chronograph|
|GPS Solar, SSH079J1||2,800 USD||Chronograph|
|GPS Solar, SSH077J1||2,600 USD||Chronograph|
|GPS Solar, SSH093J1||2,400 USD||Chronograph|
|GPS Solar, SSE003J1||2,000 USD||Chronograph|
|GPS Solar, SSJ005J1||1,700 USD||Date|
|GPS Solar, SSE077J1||1,600 USD||Dual time|
How much does a Seiko Aston cost?
Prices for watches in the Seiko Astron collection range from almost 1,600 USD for a three-hand watch with a date to over 3,400 USD for limited-edition high-end timepieces designed by the Italian industrial designer Giorgetto Giugiaro. The Astron GPS Solar Chronograph Giugiaro Design Limited Edition ref. SSE121J1 had a limited production run of 3,000 pieces. Chronographs like the ref. SSH077J1 from 2020 occupy the middle of the Astron price range and demand roughly 2,600 USD.
High Precision: The Astron GPS Solar Chronograph
The Seiko Astron GPS Solar Chronograph runs as accurately as an atomic clock thanks to its GPS receiver and also features a practical chronograph complication. This model was added to the Astron collection in 2014 and is the world's first solar watch with GPS and a stopwatch complication. Similar to its sister models, this timepiece sets itself automatically to the local time with the press of the button. Seiko reduced the size of the ring antenna, making the chronograph's case 30% smaller than older Astron watches. The watch gets its power from the caliber 8X32, has a diameter of 45 mm, and is 13.5 mm thick.
A highlight of this collection is the Astron Limited Edition ref. SSE001. It is a titanium watch with a white dial and ceramic bezel. This high-tech timepiece is limited to 7,000 pieces and also features a bracelet made of titanium and ceramic. You can find pre-owned watches for around 2,300 USD.
The standard version of this chronograph bears the reference number SSE003J1 and is also titanium. However, it has a black dial and a bracelet made entirely of titanium. You can buy an unworn SSE003J1 starting at 2,000 USD.
If you prefer a blue dial and blue ceramic bezel, you should take a look at the reference number SSE005J1. New watches cost around 2,300 USD. Fans of two-tone timepieces will prefer the ref. SSE007J1. Its crown, push-pieces, hands, and hour indices are gold plated. Prices for mint-condition watches start at roughly 2,300 USD.
With a second time zone: Astron GPS Solar Dual Time
Business people and world travelers know the value of the dual-time complication. With it, you can always keep track of two time zones: the current local time and the time at home, for example. The Seiko Astron GPS Solar Dual Time is one of the most advanced dual-time models on the market. This luxury watch is available in many varieties – from the classic titanium watch to a gold-plated, stainless steel version.
One highlight is the Seiko Astron HondaJet Limited Edition introduced in 2017 under reference number SBXB133. Seiko designed it based on Honda's jetliner HA-420. The timepiece comes with a blue bezel and sells for around 2,500 USD.
The central hands on the Astron GPS Solar Dual Time show the local time, as is the case for most watches with a second timezone. The time at home appears on a subdial at 6 o'clock. Another subdial above the home time display shows you whether it's day or nighttime back home. Seiko placed the day in a semi-circular window near 2 and 3 o'clock and the date at 4.
A rather unusual, crescent-shaped display sits near 9 and 10 o'clock. It has various functions and is, therefore, called a "multi-indicator." On the lower end of the crescent, marked with the acronym DST (Daylight Saving Time), you can see whether the watch is displaying daylight saving time or standard time. There is also a bar that indicates how much charge the timepiece has. Above that is the flight mode display meant for air travel. The last indicator is on the upper half of the dial and displays the reception control when the watch is connected with satellites for setting the time.
You can purchase a never-worn Seiko Astron GPS Solar Dual Time ref. SSE077J1 for approximately 1,500 USD.
Seiko Astron With Giugiaro Design
Seiko presented the first watch model made in cooperation with the Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro in 1983. It was also the first quartz chronograph to feature an analog time display. Today, this extravagantly-designed timepiece is one of Seiko's most coveted collector's watches.
The current Seiko Astron GPS Solar Chronograph Giugiaro Design Limited Edition ref. SSE121J1 takes its inspiration from the 1983 model, though the design is slightly sportier. The tachymeter on the bezel used to calculate speed shows that this chronograph is geared toward race drivers and racing fans. Red and green accents on the black dial and case also highlight its sporty look. The case and bracelet are made of titanium and are incredibly resilient thanks to their black hard-coating. Similar to other Astron chronographs, you can measure periods of time up to six hours with this limited edition. Limited to a run of 3,000 pieces, individual models demand around 3,700 USD in mint condition.
Quartz Astron: The World's First Quartz Wristwatch
Seiko made a long-lasting impact on the watchmaking world with the first Quartz Astron in 1969. The manufacturer brought the first wristwatch with a quartz movement to the market as a very limited edition just in time for Christmas after ten years of development. Even back then, Seiko was in the position of producing almost all of their luxury watch components in-house. This depth of production still sets Seiko apart from most Swiss watch manufacturers today. Back in 1969, each watch from the total run of 100 pieces cost 450,000 yen, which was the price of a mid-class car at the time.
Nearly 40 years later, Seiko released a new version of the Quartz Astron: the ref. S23617J1. This special edition, which was limited to 200 pieces, is 3.1 mm thick and has a diameter of 41 mm. The case is made of so-called "High-Intensity Titanium" and comes with a silicon or crocodile leather strap. The most important part of this quartz watch is the caliber 9F62 with a date display. Seiko only uses the highest-quality quartz crystals in this movement to guarantee the best precision, even when exposed to fluctuating temperatures. For this reason, it only deviates a maximum of around 10 seconds per year. In comparison, conventional quartz watches deviate between 10 to 30 seconds per month. If you take a closer look at the hands on a Quartz Astron, you will notice that the second hand points exactly at the individual markings. This is made possible by the so-called "Backlash Auto Adjustment System." An additional special feature is the instantaneous date change at midnight that happens in two thousandths of a second.
The list price for the Quartz Astron ref. S23617J1 was 5,000 USD at its release. Today, you can buy this luxury quartz watch in mint condition for around 4,000 USD.