As a world leader of technology in time, Seiko has set benchmarks within the watchmaking industry. In 1969 it created the first quartz watch, an innovation that would change the world. With 100 times the accuracy of a mechanical watch, it spurred a revolutionary moment in watchmaking known as the quartz crisis. Despite sending many authentic Swiss watchmakers of mechanical wristwatches into collapse, the quartz movement has its own advantages. Not only did it offer better accuracy but it was also more affordable to make. Fast forward 40 years on and the Seiko Astron made ultra-high accuracy a form of timekeeping that was accessible worldwide.
The Seiko Astron 35SQ changed the watch industry after it went on sale in 1969. Before its release, Seiko had worked out how to run a current through a quartz crystal to control the accuracy of the watch’s oscillations, which in turn enabled for an increased rate of oscillations. This exceeded the average oscillation performance of a mechanical wristwatch by thousands. The second generation of the Seiko Astron line was the GPS solar wristwatch released in 2012. Just as revolutionary as the very first Seiko Astron, it came equipped with several new features and technological advantages. Integrated with time synchronization by GPS satellite signal reception and with time zone adjustment functions, the Seiko Astron GPS Quartz was an instant success and was the world’s first mass produced GPS wristwatch. Seiko focussed on improving the reception performance and the interface of the watch, equipping the model with a titanium and ceramic bodywork, as well as a 100 meter water resistance.
Since the very first Seiko Astron watch was released, the Japanese company has dedicated years to improving its accuracy from 100 times more than a standard mechanical watch to some models featured in the Grand Seiko collection today, offering an accuracy of ±5 seconds per year. Before the Seiko Astron GPS Quartz watch was a 2004 radio controlled timepiece that used an anatomical clock as its reference. Only four countries in the world were sending out standard time signals, highlighting just some of the difficulties Seiko would face in creating wristwatches that would obtain the same level of accuracy when beyond the reach of these signals. Thus came Seiko’s quest for achieving GPS satellite technology in a wristwatch.
Seiko Epson has already developed equipment that determined a location by using GPS technology. The skill in fitting this GPS synchronization feature into a wristwatch would prove difficult. By downsizing the antenna required to carry out this task and eventually dispersing it across the entire face, its presence was visually eradicated from the design. Power consumption was also reduced and the watch’s performance was improved. The more compact, reliable Seiko Astron GPS watch is now able to receive GPS satellite signals via a super smart sensor twice a day and continues to equip the wrists of quartz lovers with a reliable, high tech tool.