At Seiko’s opening-day Baselworld press conference on Wednesday, the Japanese company introduced a new chronograph version of the popular Astron GPS and a new high-frequency Grand Seiko movement with a GMT function.
Each Seiko watch and also Grand Seiko watch continues on the success of previous models: the 2012 Seiko Astron GPS Solar was a breakthrough for its GPS time-setting capacity, and the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 was the flagship model for Grand Seiko (Seiko’s high-end mechanical watch division) for the past several years. Here you’ll find images and information about the new Astron GPS Solar Chronograph and the Hi-beat 36,000 GMT Limited Edition. The new Grand Seiko caliber, 9S86, is a “hi-beat” movement, meaning that it runs at 5 Hz, or 36,000 vibrations per hour. That breaks down to 10 beats per second. It was designed as a development off of Grand Seiko Caliber 9S85, another hi-beat movement that Seiko first brought out in 2009. The 9S85 powers Grand Seiko’s most popular watch. The new caliber is highly similar to its forebear: it is an automatic movement with a 28.4-mm diameter. It has a power reserve of 55 hours and runs on 37 jewels. And it has highly accurate timing, staying within a variation of -3 to +5 seconds per day. What makes the Grand Seiko 9S86 stand apart, though, is its distinctive and brightly colored 24-hour GMT hand, indicating a second time zone. This feature establishes the 9S86 as the Grand Seiko model for international travelers.
At the Basel press conference, Seiko introduced the caliber by way of a new watch, the Hi-beat 36,000 GMT Limited Edition. The watch has a stainless-steel case designed after that of the 44GS, which Grand Seiko launched at Baselworld last year. It has a curved nonreflective sapphire crystal. Its dial is a deep green, chosen by Seiko to evoke the verdure of Northern Japan near the Grand Seiko watch workshop. This edition is limited to 600 pieces and costs 7,050 euros (approximately $9,700). Beyond the limited edition, Grand Seiko also introduced two more 9S86 watches in steel cases: one with a white dial and blue GMT hand, and another with a black dial and red GMT hand. Each costs 6,700 euros, or roughly $9,200.
Seiko also presented a new version of the popular Astron GPS Solar with a chronograph function. Caliber 8X82 has GPS-controlled time and time-zone adjustment functions, like its predecessor. The new chronograph feature can time intervals up to six hours in length, accurate to 1/5 second. It is also easier to use than the earlier 7X52 caliber. Secondary functions, such as manual time-zone selection, can be activated through a new electronic setting function in the crown. The GPS time-setting function still works by a one-touch system: holding down a button for 6 seconds activates it. The new Astron has an updated appearance. The case is 30 percent smaller than the previous Astron, with a diameter of 44.6 mm and a thickness of 13.3 mm. Seiko used a smaller GPS antenna to make this decrease in size possible. Additionally, Seiko has improved the light penetration to the solar cell, so the Astron can have different dial designs. In addition to the black dial used in the prior version, the new Astron comes with a blue or white dial. The Seiko Astron GPS watch has been an “outstanding success” in the year and half since it was launched, Seiko said. The Japanese brand said that sales of the watch doubled in 2013. Seiko offers the new Astron in eight different versions. It comes in either a titanium and ceramic case and bracelet or a stainless steel and ceramic version, and has a variety of accent colors. Prices range from 1,800 euros to 2,400 euros ($2,470 to $3,300, approximately). Seiko also released a Limited Edition Astron to introduce Caliber 8X82. It has white dial, a ceramic bezel, and a titanium case. It comes on a ceramic and titanium bracelet or on a black crocodile strap. Only 7,000 pieces will be produced, costing 3,300 euros (approximately $4,500). It will be available in September.
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