“SEIKO ASTRON” is a tribute to the epoch-making model “Quartz Astron” that Seiko (founded in Tokyo, Ginza in 1881) released as the world’s first quartz watch in December 1969. A brand that develops while inheriting a prestigious name. This year 2022 is an important year, marking the 10th anniversary of the launch of the world’s first GPS solar watch in 2012.
The “NEXTER” featured this time is a noteworthy work released on May 13, 2022 as a model that will carry the next generation. Currently, it is deployed in two types, the GPS solar model “SBXC” and the solar radio wave model “SBXY”, but here, the blue gray dial “SBXC109” of “SBXC” is featured as sub information. While touching on “SBXY”, we will introduce the “highlights” of the “Nexter” series.
Background of the birth of the original “Astron” and its influence
Seiko has achieved numerous innovations for over 140 years, but “Quartz Astron” can be said to be a monument, and its birth can be said to be an epoch making in the history of watches. So, before digging deeper into the Seiko Astron Nexter Series, let’s learn a little about the Quartz Watch masterpiece, the Quartz Astron.
Quartz is quartz, which is a mineral of silicon dioxide crystals. Crystal (rock crystal) refers to the colorless and transparent ones, but it seems that it is generally recognized as “quartz = crystal”. Quartz watches have the property of periodically vibrating periodically when an AC voltage is applied, and the quartz watch vibrates to adjust the time of the crystal (keeping the hand movement of time at a constant speed). It means “a watch or a pocket watch used as a child”. By the way, an oscillator is a vibrating substance, which includes tuning forks, wall clock pendulums, and self-winding movement balances in addition to crystals.
The number of times this oscillator swings within a certain period of time is called the frequency (beet), and the higher the value, the higher the accuracy (the degree of stability with respect to time ticks). However, in fact, there is a tremendous difference in accuracy between the manual winding and self-winding mechanical type and the quartz type.
For example, in the past, the general mechanical frequency was around 18,000 vibrations / hour. On the other hand, the natural vibration of quartz crystal is 32,768 vibrations / second, so if you convert both values to the frequency per minute, the mechanical type is 300 vibrations and the quartz is 1,966,080 vibrations. In other words, quartz is “6553.6 times more accurate” for one minute than the general mechanical type. Nowadays, with the evolution of technology and materials, mechanical movements with higher vibrations are not uncommon, but they are still far below the accuracy of quartz movements, and the difference in accuracy between the two is incomparable. That’s why.
Quartz watches were born in New York, USA in 1927 by Canadian physicist Warren Alvin Marison and others. It was as big as a chest of drawers, but such quartz clocks were gradually miniaturized, and Seiko completed the compact desktop quartz clock “Crystal Chronometer” in 1963 and put it on the market. In addition, the Tokaido Shinkansen, which opened in 1964 the following year, houses a small quartz clock for installation in the driver’s cab.
In the 1950s and 1960s, multiple manufacturers in Europe and the United States began to compete for higher precision wristwatches, and the target was not limited to mechanical wristwatches, but electronic wristwatches such as tuning fork wristwatches were introduced. Under such circumstances, Seiko, which gained a track record in quartz clocks, challenged the development of quartz watches. It seems that the difficult problem was to further reduce the size of the crystal unit and save power, but the company cleared this problem by developing a tuning fork type crystal unit and an open type step motor. Thus, on December 25, 1969, the world’s first quartz watch “Quartz Astron” was released to the world.
The advent of “Quartz Astron” was one of the largest giant steps in the long history of watches. How shockingly people around the world received this event at that time can be inferred from the overwhelming accuracy difference when compared with the mechanical type mentioned above. By the way, in Japan at that time, such quartz watches were called “crystal oscillation type watches”.
Since Seiko has released the patented technology, other companies have followed suit and entered the quartz watch market one after another. In the watch industry, Japanese quartz dominated the market, and Western watch makers were uniformly hit hard, especially the US watch industry was almost destroyed. And we had to wait until the end of the 1980s to get rid of this quartz shock and start a mechanical revival.
“Seiko Astron” created by the further pursuit of accuracy
“Quartz Astron” was an innovation created from Seiko’s pursuit of precision, but the challenge has not been tired, and so-called radio-controlled watches are now widely used as high-precision watches. This is to demonstrate high accuracy by receiving standard radio waves based on the active hydrogen maser atomic clock whose time signal base is the “National Research and Development Corporation Information and Communication Research Organization (NICT)” that creates standard time. Actually, there are only a few ground base stations in the world that emit the radio waves, and there is a weakness that accurate time information cannot be obtained in areas where standard radio waves do not reach.
Therefore, Seiko focused on a method of receiving GPS radio waves emitted by artificial satellites operating about 20,000 km above the sky instead of standard radio waves. In car navigation systems, such GPS radio waves are mainly used for checking the position of the vehicle, but by utilizing it for time adjustment and combining it with a solar charging function, “a clock that keeps accurate time anywhere in the world” We proceeded with the development aiming at.