Posted on May 02 2020
Seiko has been an industry leader in innovations for decades, and such was the impact of the launch of Seiko Astron Quartz wristwatch on Christmas Day in 1969 that it changed the world forever. The impressive-looking watch was an engineering marvel that set an incredible standard of accuracy that the world had never thought of. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers declared the watch as a milestone in the history of chronographs as it turned out to be the most accurate timekeeper of the time. The Swiss watchmakers who dominated the world watch market were shell-shocked at the innovation, which became the last word in accuracy, and created an unprecedented crisis for the industry that was far behind the mark with no idea about how to cope with the challenge.
Setting a new standard of accuracy in watches Singapore
Until that time, the world was happy with the accuracy of mechanical watches that ranged between -1/+10 seconds per day and had become the universal standard of the watch industry. But the accuracy of Astron Quartz wristwatches was ±5 seconds per month, which was incredible because it was 100 times more accurate than the mechanical or electronic watches at that time.
Astron was a special watch among all the watches Singapore has because it ushered in a new era by using quartz movement in watches that would eventually become the mainstay of watchmaking and brought accurate timekeeping within reach of all. As Seiko continued with its innovations, which became a culture of the company, it kept on enhancing the standard, and four decades later, in 2012, Astron astounded the world with a new milestone in high- accuracy by making ultra-high accuracy a reality across the time zones.
Watches Singapore - The First Quartz Revolution
For the first time, the world saw a Quartz wristwatch in the Astron 35SQ that became a path breaker and changed the industry forever. The watch that went on sale on December 25, 1969, had a unique design created by Kazunari Sasaki of Suwa Seikosha.
The oscillator governs the accuracy of a watch, which improves with an increase in the oscillation frequency. This has been the theory behind watchmaking since the times of Abraham Louis Breguet, the famous French horologist of the nineteenth century. By adopting this approach, some watchmakers in the 1950s had been able to considerably develop the usage accuracy of wristwatches that had mechanical movements and used some heavy parts like the balance wheel. After that, no additional progress was possible.
This compelled watchmakers to look at other options for improving the accuracy by sending an electric current through a quartz crystal that could control the accuracy of oscillations. They understood that theoretically, it was possible to increase the oscillations by using a quartz crystal as compared to mechanical movements.
In 1959, the project started for developing running a quartz movement with a 1.5v battery. The project was a collaboration between Suwa Seikosha and an affiliate of K. Hattori & Co that went on to become Seiko Watch Corporation. It led to the development of forming the crystal oscillator by using hydrofluoric acid. There was also the development of a photolithographic technique by keeping the oscillator suspended in vacuum to protect it from shock and using a thermo-variable condenser developed to control the effects of temperature changes.
Within four years, Seiko introduced a quartz control table-clock named the Crystal Chronometer in 1963. After that, it was Seiko all the way at the Neuchatel Observatory competition as it won all the awards from the second to seventh place and was a leader in the quartz deck chronometer category. The wave of success continued in the following years as the quartz pocket watches won the awards for the 2nd to 5th place at the same competition in 1966 and from the first to fifth places in the next year.
The next phase of quartz watches Singapore development – the birth of Astron
After overcoming the problems with quartz crystals, there were more challenges to overcome to achieve greater compactness of watches. The big motor size that changed quartz movements to hand rotation was too large in power consumption and size. To save space, Suwa Seikosha separated the rotor from the stator and replaced the copper-wound motor coil by a 6-pole stepper motor that used a single electrical pulse to rotate the motor 60 degrees. This resulted in a small motor that consumed 18µa currents.
As the company set its eyes on the commercial release of quartz watches within a year, the dream turned into reality as the first set of 20 quartz watches was ready for the market by December 1969. It marked the birth of Astron, the first quartz-controlled wristwatch of the world. There was some thought behind choosing the name that reverberated with the space-age.
The first decade of the launch of Astron was a game-changer because the technology transformed the way people conceptualized time and led to the growth of digital devices. Seiko boldly declared that it ushered in a new age in watchmaking that the world would adopt in the days to come, which turned real and became the order in watchmaking in the following years.
The second revolution watches Singapore – Seiko Astron is now a GPS solar wristwatch
After four decades of the first generation Astron, the phenomenal wristwatch introduced the second generation in 2012 in the form of Seiko Astron GPS solar wristwatches. The capabilities and functions of the second generation Astron far exceed that of its predecessors. Still, the name holds good to highlight its high accuracy that revolutionized the world of watchmaking and the importance of GPS solar technology, which is again a path breaker.
The Astron 7x series launched in 2012 was again a first from Seiko as it was the first wristwatch in the world to use time synchronization by GPS satellite signal reception along with time zone adjustment functions in mass-produced wristwatches. Since then, efforts are on to reduce the size of the Seiko Astron and improve the interface and reception performance.
Watches Singapore - Achieving ultra-high accuracy
Seiko has continued the pursuit of improving efficiency that led to the development of ultra-high accuracy watches that it could achieve over the years. In 1969, the original Astron had an accuracy of ±5 seconds per month that was 100 times more accurate than the mechanical movement. Today, some Grand Seiko wristwatches with 9F quartz movements have ultra-high accuracy of ±5 seconds per year.
Notable among the technologies that helped to achieve the marvelous accuracy included the radio-controlled watch that Seiko released in 2004 in the form of a timepiece that could adjust the time by considering the standard time signals. Theoretically, a radio-controlled watch that uses an atomic clock as a reference must have exceptional accuracy. But there is a limitation to this approach because only four countries in the world send out standard signal times, and countries that are beyond the reach of these countries would remain out its ambit.
It inspired Seiko to develop a watch of ultra-high accuracy that would be usable in any part of the world. The focus turned toward satellite watch synchronization with time signals that came from GPS satellites instead of using standard time signals broadcast from the earth stations. The biggest challenge was to incorporate the GPS technology into wristwatches due to the enormous power consumed by the device when getting signals from a GPS satellite that was 200 times more than a radio-controlled watch. Also, it would require an enormous antenna for precise reception of satellite signals. This would necessitate downsizing wristwatch and power saving. It was a challenge, much like what the developers of the first Astron had to face.
Watches Singapore Compactness – achieving the impossible
Antenna improvements paved the way for compacting the size of Seiko Astron. The compact ring antenna size of the Astron 7x series in 2012 was 38 mm diameter, in the 8x series released in 2014, it came down to 35.5 mm and then the 5x series released in 2018 radically reduced the antenna size to 10x10 mm. The 3X series released in 2018 has the antenna spread across the face that does away with any visible signs of the antenna. In the same sequence of reducing compactness between 2012 and 2019, the power consumption came down to a quarter while the reception performance improved 1.5 times.
The efforts in reduction resulted in not only a much more compact wristwatch, but it was also possible to insert a super-smart sensor into the device that could receive GPS signals up to two times a day.
The looks of the new Astron 7X series watches released in 2012 had a one of its kind appearances that underlined the unique technology behind the watch. Having made the statement of uniqueness, the appearance of the 8X series resembled the mainstream watches. The looks of the 5X series watch Singapore might seem deceptive as it hardly shows any sign of the superior functionality that has the amazing capability of receiving time signals in 3 seconds.
When people seemed to take the high accuracy of quartz wristwatches for granted, the emergence of the new Astron established that ultra-high accuracy is a reality for everyday life. And it marked the beginning of the second revolution in timekeeping.