The Seiko Astron GPS Solar Stratos
This article represents a Horbiter's first for two reasons: this is the very first time we take live pictures of a Seiko timepiece, and, secondly, this is the first, but certainly not the last, post about the product portfolio by this Japanese manufacturer, a brand which covers every aspect of watchmaking, ranging from high end electronics to traditional mechanics, along the middle (e.g Seiko Prospex), the high (GPS Astron) and the very high end sector (Grand Seiko). At Baselworld 2014 Seiko unveiled a lot of new timepieces, and allowed us to preview those ones that will be launched in the second part of this year.
We dedicate this opening article to a timepiece we already previewed a few weeks ago, which is part of the GPS Astron line up. It has been a very successful model since its debut: the Seiko Astron GPS Solar. It has been so successful Seiko has decided to extend its production. For those who have yet to discover it, the Seiko GPS Solar Astron is a timepiece thatletsyou pinpoint your position on Earth by connecting to GPS satellites and adjusting the time automatically in each of the 39 time zones by using a miniaturized GPS antenna. It is a compendium of Seiko's latest technologies in high end electronic/quartz watchmaking and boasts an endless series of patents. In 2014 Seiko has developed the GPS Astron's assortment by introducing two new models, which are an addition to the “classic” collection. One of them is the new Seiko Astron GPS Solar SAS033, if you like codes, the second one will be launched in September (we already tested and took pictures of it). “Watchnerds”, like the undersigned, nickname it the “Stratosphere”, or simply the “Stratos”, a name inspired by the source that Seiko used to make this new GPS Solar: Stratosphere. Which proves, once again, Seiko's willingness to explore new design trends, and dare more.
The Seiko Astron GPS Solar Stratos is different: the slightly curved sapphire glass with the anti-reflection treatment on the inner part ideally reminds us of the curve of the Earth’s surface as seen from above. Just think you are holding Earth in your hands and pushing it together at the North and South Pole. Position then all the cities which represent the 39 known time zones on the inner ring according to a map. Seiko has just created a more “avant-gardist” version of the GPS Astron, far more easy to read.
By positioning the glass on the external part of the case, and adding the cities on the inside, the dial seems to be bigger than what it appears compared to the original model. This effect is also enhanced by the shape of the luminous indexes, which are clearly oversized on the cardinal points and just reduced to small dots on the other hours. The Seiko Astron GPS Solar Stratos absorbs energy the same way the Earth is fed: by using solar light that hits the dial and powers the perpetual calendar caliber correctly until February 2100.
The Seiko Astron GPS Solar Stratos is the sportier version of the Astron. It is available with just a silicon or a crocodile strap, and it completes the collection. Titanium and ceramics are gone, while pink gold is used for the first time as a coverage to the stainless steel case. It is, in my opinion, a timepiece through which Seiko claims leadership in making satellite watches, and maybe gives a direct answer to their main domestic competitor through an original and unconventional design.
(photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®