The Seiko Astron was first introduced the world’s first solar power GPS watch in 2012. This Baselworld, they introduced a new, smaller GPS Solar movemnt in the form of the Caliber 8X22. We review the new series, including the limited edition Ref SSE091 with mother of pearl dial, and the other references.
The 8X22 is a new Astron caliber being featured in 7 new references released in Baselworld 2016. It is the latest chapter in the life of the very interesting Seiko Astron series which originated as the world’s first quartz watch.
The Seiko Astron series began life as the world’s first quartz watch movement in the form of the Caliber 35 announced in Tokyo on Christmas Day 1969. It claimed and achieved an amazing accuracy of +/- 5 seconds per month, far better than any mechanical movement. The movement used a small, thin, stepper motor which moved the second hand only once per second. This behavior was similar to mechanical watches fitted with seconds morte mechanisms. However, it did so to conserve energy rather than to allow time to be read to the second with great precision.
The quartz oscillator proved to be very shock-resistant, completely immune to magnetism and worked at a very low voltage, ensuring a battery life of one full year. Interestingly, although quartz watches would later develop a reputation as inexpensive timepieces for the masses, the first one was decidedly luxurious, boasting of an 18k gold case.
The latest iteration , the 8X22 was announced in Baselworld 2016. It is slimmer than all other Astron calibers. The latest cases to feature the 8X22 measures only 44.8mm diameter by 12.4mm, as compared to 48.2mm by 13.3mm in Astron watches that housed the earlier 8X series. A smaller, and more wrist friendly case size.
But because of the smaller size, Seiko engineers needed to make changes to increase the processing power of the circuit in the GPS module so that the the reception of GPS signals is as strong as the earlier calibers like the 8X53.
Like the earlier calibers, the watch synchronizes with just one touch of a button or automatically once a day within GPS signal reach. It recognizes all 40 timezones automatically, including 15 minute and half hour timezones. It also accounts for Daylight Savings automatically and achieves an accuracy of 1 second every 100,000 years.
The Astron covers the globe by first determining its location using GPS, then comparing that information with an on-board database that divides the Earth’s surface into one million squares, each of which is assigned to a particular time zone.
If the watch is kept without ability to synchronize to satellites, its own quartz movement keeps accuracy to 15s/month. Some enthusiasts have observed that this is rather disappointing performance for a quartz movement, as this translates to 0.5s/day. However, in regular normal activity, the watch should be able to be within satellite range at once a day to automatically sync, so this may not be a practical issue.
The Caliber 8X22 is available in a series of seven designs. All are titanium-cased and there are four bracelet and three strap versions. The Caliber 8X22 World-Time takes its place alongside the Chronograph and Dual-Time calibers to make up the full Astron GPS Solar collection of over 50 models.
We think the Seiko Astron GPS Solar Worldtime watches are amazing pieces of technology. We like the look of the watch, and feel its usage might be very good for wear during travel. On board an aircraft or high speed train (or even a cruise ship), it is certainly well at home. The convenience of automatic synchronization with any timezone around the globe is certainly one less task for the jet lagged weary traveler to remember and undertake. As we noted, we feel that perhaps in the interest of sartorial elegance, one might perhaps carry a more elegant watch for formal events on arrival and swap as one changes from travel clothes into one’s suit. But for less formal occasions, the Seiko Astron GPS Solar Worldtime might be just the perfect watch to travel with.