March 24, 2010
The SEIKO stand at Baselworld, the Cube, has only one window facing the outside. It is a small window located at the apex of the stand, and there you will find the special Commemorative Edition of the Quartz Astron displayed together with its 40-year old predecessor, the 1969 creation that was the world's first quartz watch.
As we thought about how to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the 1969 Astron, we had two dominant ideas. First, that quartz is today so ubiquitous that no-one recalls that its arrival was the most momentous event in watchmaking in 400 years. And our second thought was that the watch industry has a habit of looking backwards as much as it looks forward, and, sometimes it seems to prefer its past to its future. That doesn't fit the SEIKO view of the world!
So, we decided to celebrate 'Quartz 40', as it became known in the company, in a different way. We decided to make a new Astron that showed that the story of quartz watches is still a young story, with many chapters yet to be written about its great future potential. The new Astron that sits in the SEIKO window at Basel looks modest, but is maybe the best quartz watch ever built. It has 10- second-a-year accuracy, a date change that takes just 1/2000th second, hands that align exactly to the second markers on the dial and a super-torque motor that allows heavy and long hands to be used.
In the Stone Square at the heart of the SEIKO stand, there is an exhibition about how the first Astron came about. Today, quartz watches are taken for granted; it is as if they have always been around. The truth is very different. Just 10 years before the Quartz Astron was born, SEIKO's only quartz timepiece was a broadcast clock that was two meters high, and was about the size of a filing cabinet! To get from there to a movement small enough to fit into a wristwatch was no small achievement, and the exhibition charts the major steps SEIKO took on our journey to the Astron.
The new Astron was highlighted at the SEIKO Press Conference. It is a limited edition of 200 watches. Seconds after the press Conference closed, the first piece was reserved by a renowned collector who saw that the new Astron is proof that quartz, just like the other watch technologies, has a bright and exciting future.