Seiko’s Astron collection, from my perspective, is a somewhat overlooked effort from the Japanese brand. I think this is largely in error, however. If a collector is able to get past the non-mechanical aspects of these pieces, I think they offer an enormous amount of functionality in a robust and attractive package. But maybe I’m wrong; maybe there is a surfeit of Seiko Astron collectors out there that I just don’t see. If so, this release is for you.
To commemorate the original 1969 Quartz Astron, Seiko has decided to release a collection of four watches modeled after that original Astron with a curved case, wide lugs, and a thin bezel. Instead of purely quartz, Seiko employed its Caliber 5×53 Solar-powered and GPS-synced movement. This time, however, the cases are made out of titanium, offering a lightweight 42.8mm package. There are four variations in this release, starting with the limited edition SSH071 with its forest green dial and ceramic bezel. Following the limited offering will be the SSH063/67 and SSH069. These watches will have white, gray, and black faces (with coated black case), respectively.
Seiko has done a good job making each offering from this collection different. The limited green color reads differently than the rest of the collection due to the ceramic bezel contrasting against the titanium case and the gold accents on the dial. The SSH069 with the black-coated case stands out on the merit of its dial texture alone, in my opinion. I always had this preconceived notion that all Astron watches were 44mm or larger. Seeing that this collection is sized at just over 42mm changes that, plus these models are being made out of lightweight titanium. These are likely going to be very wearable pieces. One thing does have me scratching my head, however — Seiko stated that these watches should be robust and scratch-resistant. Titanium is much softer and more susceptible to scratches than other materials, unless Seiko has chosen to treat these with Diashield, which is not explicitly stated.
Functionally, the Astron collection at large offers a lot. The 5X53 movement is updated twice a day via the GPS network or manually synced at the press of a button. This reminds me quite a bit of the atomically equipped G-Shock collections from Casio, such as this one. That said, it will remain to be seen if this Astron release can carve out a niche for itself against the concurrent Prospex release.
When it boils down to it, this is a great release for Seiko. Four new watches, one of which will be limited, all in a very wearable size and made out of a super-wrist-friendly material. All four have a water resistance of 200 meters, allowing them to go wherever you need them to. It’ll be up to the consumer to decide if the techie nature of these watches makes them interesting enough to drop the cash. This would be something I’d be willing to give a shot. The new Prospex Astron collection will be available starting in June with the limited Green SSH071 for €2,800. Following a month later, the SSH069 will be available for €2,800, as well, and the SSH063 and SSH067 for €2,600. For additional information, head on over to seikowatches.com.