April 4, 2017
by David Bredan
“Yes, sorry, I was at Baselworld. What’s up?”
“Oh no, that was last week?! So, should I just email press about these now or… wait a year…? Darn it, I’ll just send these out now…”
I very clearly made up this extract from the Seiko corporate email system in angst but, you know, seeing Seiko/Grand Seiko release some very cool, very new watches that we totally would have loved to see some time during our 9-day stay in Basel, I cannot imagine anything else but a similar conversation to be in the background. I mean, why couldn’t we see this stuff at Baselworld?
I love Seiko – maybe not so much Giugiaro… but I do love Seiko. From the sub-$300 Monster and Recraft through Prospex all the way to their incredible Grand Seiko Spring Drive, but it is exactly this fascination and care that results in strong frustration time after time when I have to encounter yet newer barriers between myself and their products (just read my two-paragraph rant at the beginning of Kenny’s Grand Seiko two-tone article I linked to above to get a more complete picture).
Since 1983 Seiko has been working together with Italian design powerhouse Guigiaro Design (by Giorgietto Giugiaro, an amazing-sounding name, even by Italian standards), who have made their name primarily by conceiving instantly recognizable and unique cars like the Audi 80, BMW M1, Lancia Delta, Bugatti EB118, along with dozens of others, and as a world-renowned industrial design firm working in other fields.
Giugiaro and Seiko created the world’s first analog quartz watch in 1983 with the Seiko 7A28 6000 that you can see above and an original, 30th-anniversary re-release which we covered extensively here. And the Astron itself even had another 3,000-piece limited edition Giugiaro run back in early 2015, remember?
The image you see above is the brightest, clearest image (already cropped and edited to its brightest limits by me) that Seiko has released for this new Seiko Astron Giugiaro Design Limited Edition SSE121 – a black watch over a dark background with lots of shadows – and no idea of what it would look like on the wrist.
As you can see from this beautifully pixelated image also officially released by Seiko, the asymmetrical design of the 1983 version with the round dial and heavily offset case show up once again, but for the first time ever in the Seiko Astron GPS line. The case itself is 46.3mm wide and 13.3mm thick and both the case and the unusual (and, in truth, positively fascinating-looking) bracelet are in titanium with what Seiko calls a “super-hard black coating.” The bezel is in ceramic as is the case on other Seiko Astron GPS watches, water-resistance is an ample 100 meters, and there is a three-fold clasp to secure this large but, thanks to the titanium construction likely comfortably light, watch to the wrist.
The most prominent feature of the dial has to be the new hands that simply look bonkers-cool with what appear to be some sand-blasted, matte outer pinions holding protruding, lumed center sections. I don’t recall seeing these hands from Seiko before (correct me in the comments if I’m missing something) – what they do remind me of in their base design is the handset Chopard uses on many of its L.U.C. watches (like on this awesome minute repeater), though similarities do end in their triple-prong looks.
Functionalities include the typical, impressive, and highly convenient Astron GPS caliber 8X82 features, such as a GPS controlled time and time zone adjustment, solar charging, a six-hour chronograph, a perpetual calendar (programmed until the year 2100), 40-time-zone world time function, daylight saving time and power save functions, and a monthly accuracy of +/-15 seconds without receiving a GPS signal and at temperatures between 5 and 35 degrees Celsius.
All these dark images and especially this hilariously mistimed release are a shame, really (there is one bright image, yes, of the case-back) because we would have loved to bring you hands-on coverage of this very unique-to-Seiko/Giugiaro design that is now dressed up for the Seiko Astron. It really has everything going for it to be a refreshing droplet of unusual aesthetics in the sea of boring and generic-looking quartz and smart watches.
The Seiko Astron Giugiaro Design Limited Edition SSE121 will be limited to 3,000 numbered pieces globally and will be priced at around €3,250 in Europe and a fair bit less, around $2,900 in the US. seikowatches.com