Why the Seiko Astron GPS Solar-Powered Watch Is the World’s Best Travel Watch

Courtesy Seiko

Calling all collectors: This is a timepiece for the ages.

When Novak Djokovic accepted his fifth win at Wimbledon, the folks at Seiko were celebrating the 50th anniversary of their quartz watches. Not many people noticed, but Djokovic was wearing a just-launched, limited edition timepiece from Seiko. The watch is both of-the-moment and a total throwback. 

From left: Simon Bruty/Anychance/Getty Images; Courtesy Seiko

Fifty years ago, the Seiko corporation changed timekeeping with the world’s first quartz wristwatch. At the time, Seiko produced more mechanical watches than any other firm in the world, but company officials had been experimenting with quartz timekeeping since the late 1950s. So, it was—to say the least—a big deal as it was unveiled after ten years in development, on Christmas day of 1969. The Quartz Astron changed the way the world told time, with an accuracy of plus-5 to minus-5 seconds per month. Within a week, 100 gold dress watches named Astron with a battery life of one year were sold for about $1,200 each. It was the price of a small car at the time. 

This year, the Astron is back. With a slight tonneau shape and pared-back dial, it echoes its antecedent. It’s now called the Astron GPS Solar 5X and hits stores in September.  And while it may not completely change timekeeping, it is possibly the world’s best travel watch. 

First of all, the accuracy is astonishing to consider. It claims to lose one second every 100,000 years. Then, as the name promises, there is the ability to connect to a GPS network using just the power of light. And as it does that, 5X53 Dual Time movement automatically adjusts to every time zone on Earth, using a high-speed time zone adjustment function that spins the hour, minute and seconds hands to the correct positions independently. The 5X53 can automatically determine 39 recognized time zones—imagine that if you live on planes—and a time transfer function also allows the wearer to switch instantly between local time and home time. 

This being mandatory for watches today, of course, there is a limited-edition model in the mix. So lookout for the stainless steel model, coated in Seiko’s proprietary “super hard” black coating with a ceramic bezel. Only 1,500 will be available. Other models will come in stainless steel with a black or blue dial, with a linked or black rubber strap.