On Christmas Day, 1969, the Seiko Astron was launched; this was world’s first quartz wristwatch. Or at least that’s how the story goes. But the truth is much, much more complicated, as I have been researching and writing about for months. Only a few examples of that Cal. 35 SQ Astron were produced, and it was so expensive that not many were ever actually sold. And a raft of other watches (the CEH Beta 1, Longines Ultra-Quartz, various Beta 21 models, and even the Bulova Accuquartz) could make a credible claim. So what was the first?
Seiko is the largest producer of watches in the world. Based in Japan, Seiko Group produces a wide range of products, including low-end quartz movements and watches, kinetic and Spring Drive, and mechanical watches under many brand names.
The 2019 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève features a grail for every price tag, from the affordable Ming 17.06, Tudor Black Bay P01, Seiko Prospex LX and Kudoke 2 to the insane Urwerk AMC with its atomic clock “docking station”. It also heaps praise on the long-running Audemars Piguet Royal Oak line and Chanel’s fantastic J12. Truly something for everyone!
Seiko launched a mechanical Galante line in 2010 as a cheaper alternative to the Spring Drive watches the brand was known for. This SBLL line featured an “open heart” highlighting the ticking balance and the design focused on the city of Tokyo.
Among Japanese watchmaking giant Seiko Group’s vast array of watch lines, perhaps none is as odd as Galante. A high-end brand with a modern, avant garde look that expresses a different face of Japan, Galante features novel construction and high-end finishing. The initial Galante models, from 2005 through 2009, all used Seiko’s Spring Drive movement and were sold with a combination of sex and celebrity.
Seiko has been collaborating with Giugiaro Design since the 1980s. The most famous fruit of this collaboration was the “Aliens” watch line, which have been reissued in recent years. In late 2018, Seiko introduced another reissue: The SBJG multi-function digital models we will discuss today.
When Seiko reissued the 1980s-style “Aliens” Giugiaro watches between 2013 and 2015, collectors were thrilled. But after thoroughly exhausting color combinations on the “Ripley” and “Bishop” watches, where would Seiko go next? They turned to the less well-known 7A28-7A00 SBBJ “Speed Master” series, with angled faces inside a round case.
Despite an amazing history of producing excellent watches and watch movements, Seiko never seems to get the respect it deserves. But perhaps the most curious attempt by Seiko to challenge the Swiss came in the form of the SARA watch and the 4L25 movement inside.
I wore this watch for a few years before getting more into watches and investing in a more serious Swiss daily-wear watch. Although it’s really nothing special, this Seiko 5 was an important door into the world of watches, and I strongly recommend models like this to friends. They’re durable, interesting, and well-made. Even watch snobs love a good Seiko!
The other day I wore the Seiko SCED017 “Bishop” Reissue for “Watch A Day”, so today I am turning to the SCED035 “Ripley” reissue. I like this one better than the Bishop in many ways, though the boxy styling is definitely polarizing.
I’m on a Seiko kick this week for my “Watch A Day” series but this is a bit of an oddball. This Lord Matic is a mainstream automatic with dated 1970s styling and a decent but not awesome automatic movement. It’s the kind of watch many of us have in the box, getting occasional glances but infrequent wear.