Seiko recently released the Astron, a limited edition high end quartz watch. This is the first time in Seiko’s history that they have sold a 9F based quartz watch worldwide.
Traditionally, Seiko has reserved the 9F movements almost exclusively for their Grand Seiko models. Prior to this watch, I believe they have only made one exception to this practice. In 2000 as part of the Historical Collection, Seiko produced this Japanese Domestic model SCQZ002 Astron Reissue.
Photo Coutesy Jayhawks Watch Photo Database
This newest Quartz Astron is a much different animal than the above watch. It’s titanium, it’s stealthy and with its silicon band, a more casual timepiece. I guess this is Seiko’s interpretation of an Astron “2.0.”
After having seen pictures of this watch for months now, I was unprepared for the experience of holding it in my hand. The watch is surprisingly light, but a bigger surprise is the polish on the front of the case. Seiko has clearly applied some type of finish to the titanium giving it a dark ultra glossy appearance. Stock pictures of the watch never showed this unique finishing characteristic. The titanium is so polished and so glossy, that it often “disappears” and simply looks like steel. At other times, you can see the faintest hue of blue in it as well. Looking at the picture below, one can see how one side of the lugs look black, while the others look like titanium.
The blacked out surface is actually a discrete part of the case. It appears to be held down via the 4 screws on the case back.
The deep black dial is engraved with the Seiko quartz symbol.
The non screw down crown is signed and the side has a very Grand Seiko like brushed finish. Although not easy to discern, there are actually five individual surfaces (not including the case back or bezel) with alternating finishes visible in this photo.
The markers and hands seem to be lifted right out of the Grand Seiko parts bin and they don’t disappoint.
The case itself measures 40mm without crown and the lugs are 20mm. In addition to the silicon band, the watch is also shipped with a black crocodile strap with a deployant finished in the same manner as the watch surface. I’m going to wear this one on the silicon. It gives the watch a more casual sporty vibe.
The packaging for this watch was a disappointment. Seiko used a significant name and movement with this watch and arguably this is a precursor to a worldwide Grand Seiko launch. You’d think that Seiko could have included some history about the Astron and also 9F movement development with the packaging but all we get is the standard 9F quartz manual. Additionally, I was hoping I could find out some information about the case finishing, but nothing is mentioned. In the press releases, all I’ve seen is mention of a “high intensity titanium.” If Seiko is going to try to compete with the Swiss, I think they need to start thinking about these details and how they relate to packaging and marketing.
This watch was released in a numbered edition of 200; most of which will be sold outside of Japan. It will be interesting to see how well it is received by the collecting community. No question, this is not a watch that will appeal to a large number of collectors.