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The New 2014 Range of Seiko Astron Watches Technological Marvel & A Change Agent

for the Watch Industry


By Meor Amri Meor Ayob
Photos from the internet
Thursday, February 06, 2014
Back in 1969, when Seiko launched a new watch named Astron, it created a structural shift in the
world of horology. Incorporating new technologies, that watch herald in the digital age in
timepieces. In fact the introduction of the Astron started an evolution that nearly wiped out the
Swiss watch industry.
Nearly 43 years later, in 2012, taking into consideration new technologies, Seiko launched a new
Astron, this time adding added GPS connectivity into a timepiece. The watchs ability to access
GPS satellites that orbit the earth allows users to pinpoint exact location and keeping time
accurate. The latest advancements in battery and solar charging technologies as well as
miniaturization make this possible.

Figure 1 https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BfwOA5ICQAA70my.jpg

The latest incarnation of the Astron is an analog, solar-powered watch that receives GPS satellite
signals and adjusts to the precise local time anywhere on Earth. It recognizes all 39 time zones,
with a manual reset. The Astron covers the globe by first determining its location using GPS,

then comparing that information with an onboard database that divides the Earths surface into
one million squares, each of which is assigned to a particular time zone.
Some would argue its usefulness when there a quite a number of radio-controlled watches now
on offer. However, looking at the technology radio-controlled watches operates in where the
watches receive terrestrial radio signals from atomic clocks only when they are within range of
stations in the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany and China you start to see the
enormous advantage that Astron has over them. Astron is global and not limited to the areas
mentioned earlier. It also automatically recognizes which time zone it is in, unlike radiocontrolled watches.
For Astron, the geo-location function puts it a head above everyone else and this is something no
other watch can do.

Figure 2 https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BfwNkysCUAAjBxp.jpg

For 2014, Seiko announced six new models under the Astron banner. According to Seiko, these
new design options have been inspired by the curvature of the earth. These new designs feature a
new case, dial, hands, and dramatically curved sapphire crystal.

Figure 3 https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BfwN2lBCMAAzHVc.jpg

Seiko manufacturing capabilities allows it to produce its own synthetic sapphire crystal. Having
such a facility available, Seiko is able to experiment on ways of making curved sapphire crystal
in the most cost effective way. This will ensure a very competitive price on their products.

Figure 4 https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BfwNtP7CIAAnjwd.png

The dial of the watch has an image of the continents looking down straight down at the North
Pole. This visual cue coupled with the curve sapphire crystal makes is a very pretty piece from
an artistic point of view.
These are considered large watches with the casing measuring 48 mm wide and 18 mm thick.
Buyers will have a choice of either stainless steel, black ion plated stainless steel, or gold ion
plated stainless steel. The watches will come either on silicone or a crocodile strap. It has a water
rating of 10 ATM or 100 meters
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The movement used is the GPS Solar 7X52 caliber. A small package that has tons of nifty
gadgets. Apart from the GPS function and solar charging module (plus a charging indicator), it
comes with a second time zone in 24 hour format, perpetual calendar and signal strength
indicator. It also comes with In-Flight mode function as well as Daylight Saving Time
adjustment utility.
The charging status is displayed via an E F indicator at 9 oclock. The power reserve when
fully charged is two months in active mode and six months in sleep mode. In sleep mode, the
Astron does not display the time until it wakes up by being exposed to light. It takes only six
minutes of sunlight to provide enough power for the Astron to run for one day, but going from
empty to fully charge requires 65 hours of sunlight.
The Seiko Astron performs two basic types of operations with GPS signals: it can automatically
and manually sync to a single satellite to make sure its local time display is accurate, and it can
be manually triggered to change time zones, which requires at least four satellite signals.
The Astron automatically attempts to synchronize with a single GPS signal once each day. If the
Astron acquires a signal, it remembers when that happened. On subsequent days, if the watch is
not able to get a signal due to any reasons, it searches for the signal at the same time as the last
successful attempt. To make accurate timing, the Astron can also receive leap-second1 data.

Leap seconds are added about every 18 months to account for the Earths slowing rotation.
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Figure 5 https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BfwOGAACcAANJMy.jpg

I used to be envious of radio-controlled technology as it is only available in specific regions on


Earth. When Seiko announced the launch of the Astron GPS, I was very happy and I can now
own a watch that is smart enough to know the time anywhere on Earth.
Seiko has once again outdone itself. One of a few manufacturers that is able to embrace modern
technology yet capable of making exquisite mechanical timepieces from the breathtaking Credor
series to the Astron. I bet other manufacturers are scrambling to catch up.
The Astron in on my wish list. Expensive for a quartz watch but for the technology it brings, its
worth it. I recommend you get one too.

End.

About The writer

Meor Amri is a Malaysian working in Malaysia. Having bitten by the horology bug in 2010, he
has written extensively about the watch scene and has assembled a large collection of watches
(excessively!!) on his own free time.
His blogs on the same subject are:
1.
2.
3.
4.

http://myhorologicalphotos.blogspot.com/;
http://watchcollectionhobby.wordpress.com/;
http://westernwatch.blogspot.com/; and
http://easternwatch.blogspot.com/