Seiko Factory Visit – Trip Report Part 2 : Astron GPS and Prospex

Seiko Factory Visit – Trip Report Part 2 : Astron GPS and Prospex

June 8, 2017: Sign-up for the Grand Seiko Experience with Fratello Watches .

About a month prior, early October, I ventured out to Japan to join the Seiko Media Experience 2015 visit with 6 different columnists from different watch distributions. It was a memorable excursion and I chose to report about this outing in three separate articles.

  • Part 1 – Visit to the (Grand) Seiko and Credor facilities in Morioka and Shiojiri ;
  • Part 2 – Astron GPS and Prospex collections;
  • Part 3 – Seiko Museum visit and meeting with Mr Hattori.

This is section 2, covering Seiko’s Astron GPS and Seiko Prospex assortments. We were remaining at a lovely area, in the Tateshina Tokyu Hotel. A tranquil and calm area, close to a lovely lake. In one of the meeting rooms of this lodging, Seiko chose to give us a definite clarification about the Seiko Astron GPS idea and present their most recent models. Concerning the Seiko ProsPex assortment, Seiko welcomed previous employee Ikuo Tokunaga. Seiko fans will quickly perceive this name, as he was the architect that built up the 1975 ref. 6159-7010 Professional Diver otherwise called ‘Tuna can” or “ Grandfather Tuna “.

On the fourth day we remained at the Tokyu Hotel, to be educated about the Seiko Astron and Prospex collections

But first of all, let me start with the Seiko Astron assortment, its set of experiences, the GPS innovation and some models of the current collection.

Seiko Astron History

The Astron assortment returns to 1969. Obviously, there was no GPS. Indeed, GPS – Global Positioning System – has been created since 1967, yet it wasn’t until 1978 that the primary trial satellite was effectively dispatched and it was fundamentally a US military framework (NAVigation Satellite Time And Ranging or NAVSTAR) until 1983 when president Reagan of the USA delivered it for public use. Notwithstanding, let’s make it one stride back (before GPS) and discussion about that absolute first Seiko Astron watch. This watch without any assistance killed the Swiss watch industry at that point, in 1969. Think about that while taking other factors into consideration maybe, yet basically, it started the large scale manufacturing of truly dependable and generally modest quartz watches. The Astron was the world’s first quartz watch, created by Seiko. During the 1970s “quartz crisis”, a ton of Swiss brands either failed or began to make their own quartz looks also, coming about in – in any event – some picture harm even 30 after 40 years. Eventually, it was for individuals like Hayek Sr. who saw the force of quartz in modest watches like Swatch and empowered some significant Swiss watch fabricates to be resurrected with the Swatch watches benefits. In a nutshell.

In any case, I previously expounded on the current fine quartz developments that Seiko produces for their Grand Seiko and Credor assortments (9F types) in the initial segment of this outing report, yet the quartz development of that time were less complicated obviously. In any case, I see no motivation behind why the quartz development is loathed by so numerous out there. It is only a result of advancement and development, individuals can pick whether they need to have an excessively exact quartz watch, a mechanical watch with ‘soul’ or a Spring Drive that combines the mechanical soul with an IC.

Seiko Astron – World’s First Quartz Watch in 1969

Seiko Astron GPS

In 2012, Seiko presented a whole new assortment utilizing their popular ‘Astron’ name: the Astron GPS. In this article and this involved survey of the Seiko Astron GPS watch , we previously clarified how the watch (and development) works. Nonetheless, during the introduction and clarification in Japan things went somewhat farther than the essential presentation I got in BaselWorld. Essentially, because of the utilization of the Astron GPS development, this watch is consistently exact, any place you are and in light of the fact that it is sunlight based controlled, it is consistently ‘running’.

Besides an energy productive GPS module and a steady force supply from the sun powered source the Astron GPS likewise has this high-affectability ring recieving wire in the watch. The Seiko staff showed some of the pieces of the Astron watch, similar to the GPS recipient and the high-sensitivy radio wire, as can be seen below.

Seiko GPS recipient and ring antenna

The initial 2012 Seiko Astron GPS models had the type 7X-arrangement developments, while the current 2014 models have an improved 8X-arrangement development. These developments have become more modest and have a higher energy productivity. That sounds theoretical, so let me give you some models on these aspects.

The GPS module just as the IC require less energy. Way less energy, particularly when compared to a customary GPS watch or quartz watch. The 7X-arrangement developments were at that point amazing, however the 8X-arrangement are considerably more effective. See the little outline beneath that I got from Seiko. The scale isn’t completely obvious to me, however whatever scale it will be, it shows how the new Astron GPS development holds-up to regular quartz GPS movements.

Energy utilization of the Seiko Astron GPS 7X and 8X arrangement movements

As composed over, the parts (counting the development) likewise turned into somewhat more modest in the new 8X arrangement development. The ring reception apparatus went from 38mm to 35.5mm in distance across and the size of the battery is currently 50% of the size it was in de 7X arrangement development. The outcome is that Seiko had the option to lessen the tallness of the case with 3.2mm. Underneath, you seen picture that I took to exhibit the distinction between the 7X and 8X development measurements. The new 8X arrangement is on the left, the 7X arrangement on the right.

Seiko 8X and 7X arrangement developments for the Astron GPS

In all out the new 2015 Astron GPS is equipped for getting signals from 4 satellites, shows 2 time regions, has a retro-grade day marker, simple to utilize time region change and so forth Concerning style, my associate Michael Stockton did a brilliant review on the completion and presence of the Astron GPS Titanium . The cases have this excellent completion that Seiko alludes to as the “Zaratsu” finish, a method we likewise saw on the Grand Seiko models. Beneath, an outline of some of the current Seiko Astron GPS Solar models.

You may have seen these models as of now, as they are accessible at your Seiko Astron retailer or in the Seiko Boutiques. In spite of the fact that I am exceptionally intrigued by the innovation, the convenience as exhibited in our Astron review by Michael Stockton and the immaculate completion of these watches, they are not my kind of watch when it comes feel. I’ve composed it previously and as of late in our initial segment of my outing report, that various present day Seiko watches are maybe all in all too blingy or ‘metallic’ for my taste. In light of the responses from our perusers, in any event, during the Seiko occasion in Amsterdam as of late, it is commonly shared that some of the plans doesn’t appear to fit the flavor of the European shopper. Particularly with regards to arm bands Seiko has me somewhat stressed with some of their models, including the Astron. They are of excellent quality and have an extraordinary degree of finish, it is only the plan that doesn’t appeal to me. Same goes for the calfskin lashes tragically. At the point when Michael did his survey on the Astron GPS Titanium he quickly changed the lustrous looking gator tie for something more ‘toned down’ and the responses were amazing.

Creating a very surprising search for the Seiko Astron GPS by adding a cowhide NATO strap

See how that changes the whole watch? My expectation is that Seiko will plan some more Astron GPS varieties, with less ‘cluttered’ dials yet without any difficulty of utilization of the models above. For my past occupation I voyaged a lot through various time regions, and this would have been significantly more helpful than physically changing my GMT-Master II. In the event that Seiko can plan a more restrained variant that can be worn with a pleasant suit and shirt, they will have another victor! All things considered, I can’t stress sufficient how dazzled I am by the completion and nature of these pieces just as the innovation that Seiko has and actualizes in their watches.

Seiko Prospex

After the Astron GPS introductions and showings and a little break, we proceeded with the Seiko Prospex introduction and exhibition, given by nobody other than Ikuo Tokunaga. This previous Seiko representative (since 1970) was liable for building up the acclaimed Tuna can jumper that we cause a ruckus about such a great amount here on Fratello Watches.

Other than the Seiko Astron GPS, that is accessible in Europe for instance, a ton of the Prospex models are JDM (Japan Domestic Model), which implies they stay in Japan. A pity, as I accept that Seiko could be truly solid with some of the models that they keep as ‘JDM’ at this moment. Models are the Marinemaster 300 and Marinemaster 1000 (Tuna) models. For some of these models, little special cases are being made to offer them available to be purchased by means of the Seiko Boutiques (rather than the normal retail channels), however there is a serious increase on the cost of these “import” models. As you can peruse in my meeting with Seiko CEO Hattori recently, there are plans to have a worldwide assortment later on, yet I am somewhat restless I presume. I love the Prospex assortment beyond a reasonable doubt, have the Sumo, Marinemaster 300 and (vintage) Tuna watches, however couldn’t want anything more than to see them accessible in our market in Europe (maybe they are accessible in the USA, yet don’t think so).

In any case, the expert jumpers watches from Seiko began in 1965 with the 62MAS. It was water impervious to 150M and we canvassed it top to bottom in this article . In 1968, Seiko presented their expert jumpers watch that was WR to 300 meters and is really the first model of the later Marinemaster 300 ( which I inspected here ). It had a hello there beat development (36,000vph) and is an extremely pursued model by authorities these days.

In 1970, Mr Tokunaga joined Seiko and the improvement for another expert jumpers watch began.

Ikuo Tokunaga clarifying the difficulties when building up an expert jumpers watch

The story goes (in spite of the fact that I positively trust it isn’t a metropolitan legend or made-up story, similar to we see so often with other brands) all began with a letter from an expert jumper that had explicit necessities for a jumpers watch. It ought to be WR up to 350 meters, impervious to crashes with hard items, coherent in obscurity and not be affected by helium (immersion jumping). In 1975, Seiko presented their answer. The Seiko 6159-7010 Professional 600M jumpers watch!

Seiko Professional 600M, ref.6159-7010 , Hi-beat movement

This 50mm width watch was made of titanium, had an overly hard covering on the cover and was made out of one piece (monobloc). Additionally, for the gem the Professional 600 utilized a L-formed gasket for additional security. Where different watches utilizes a helium valve (automatic, similar to the Rolex Sea-Dweller or manual like the Omega Seamaster 300M and PO models), this watch is water and impermeable because of the monobloc and L-formed gasket. From a similar period, Seamaster PloProf 600M is another illustration of a monobloc jumper that doesn’t require a helium valve.

Based on that absolute first Tuna, presently “Grandfather Tuna”, Seiko thought of comparable watches consistently. Most as of late, Seiko presented them as the Marinemaster 1000 SBDX013 and SBDX014. One of dark clay while the other has components of rose gold PVD. Accessible in quartz, automatic and with the Spring Drive development. We canvassed the new models in our BaselWorld report, here .

Mr Tokunaga carried some parts with him, to show the development of the Tuna models. In the primary picture underneath, you obviously see the L-molded gasket. In the pictures beneath you will see the development, dial and gem fitted in the monobloc situation where the last picture additionally shows the uni-directional bezel and crown.

One of the new Marinemaster 1000 Tuna models that I truly preferred was the model with the gold accents. Seiko previously had something comparable in their assortment in 1986, however this new model combines fired with gold and has a delightful howdy beat development from the Morioka production line that I discussed in the initial segment of this excursion report. Underneath you’ll discover the photograph that I took of that dark & rose gold model (SBDX014) and the Spring Drive adaptation of the Marine Master (reference SBDB013).

Based on the experience I presently have, with the clarification about the Spring Drive and having the option to observe the creation cycle, I may support the SBDB013 with Spring Drive movement.

However, nothing beats the first I’ve learnt throughout the long term when gathering watches, so I got myself a 6159-7010 from 1975 when I returned from the excursion and got it. Underneath, a picture of that initial 1975 Tuna model and one of the later versions (suspended SBDX011, supplanted by the SBDX013).

SBDX011 and 6159-7010

Let there be no misconception that these watches are for show just, they are as yet proficient jumpers watches with ditto specifications. A more devoted instrument watch (rather than a “luxury” plunging watch) is very hard to track down with these kind of determinations and level of value. Obviously, for individuals who need to have a watch that is additionally somewhat more wearable (when not jumping) yet meeting severe prerequisites there some Marinemaster references too. See below.

As I recently wrote in this report just as in the initial segment of my excursion report to Japan, these Marinemaster models have type 8L35 and 8L55 developments that are additionally being produced at the SII office in Morioka. The Spring Drive developments are delivered at the Epson facility.

The finish of these watches are flawless and the wearing comfort – even on the huge Tuna cases – is stunning. Other than the advancements and superior grade of these watches, I was very flabbergasted by the eagerness that the Seiko staff has for these watches and their vintage watches. Something you don’t see that frequently with brands with high creation numbers. I several Seiko staff individuals wearing vintage Seiko watches during the outing, which gave me the inclination that they truly care about their legacy and – maybe – gathering community.

This is the finish of the Seiko Factory Visit Trip Report Part 2. In Part 3 I will impart my meeting to CEO Hattori that I had in Japan (in the WAKO building) and the short excursion we had to the Seiko Museum in Tokyo.

June 8, 2017: Sign-up for the Grand Seiko Experience with Fratello Watches .

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