The Astron wristwatch, formally known as the Seiko Quartz-Astron 35SQ, was the world's first "quartz clock" wristwatch, i.e., one based on a quartz crystal oscillator. It is now registered on the List of IEEE Milestones as a key advance in electrical engineering.
The Astron was unveiled in Tokyo on December 25, 1969, after ten years of research and development at Suwa Seikosha (currently named Seiko Epson), a manufacturing company of Seiko Group. Within one week 100 gold watches had been sold, at a retail price of 450,000 yen (US$1,250) each (at the time, equivalent to the price of a medium-sized car). Essential elements included a tuning-fork-type quartz crystal resonator (8,192 Hz = 213 cycles/second), a hybrid integrated circuit, and an ultra-small stepping motor to turn its hands. The Astron was accurate to ±0.2 seconds per day, ±5 seconds per month, or one minute per year.
In March 2010, at the BaselWorld watch fair and trade show in Switzerland, Seiko previewed a limited edition new version and related designs of the original Astron watch, commemorating the fortieth anniversary in December 2009 of the debut of the Astron watch.
References and footnotes
- "IEEE History Center: Electronic Quartz Wristwatch, 1969". IEEE.
- "Seiko Quartz Astron 35SQ December 1969: The quartz watch that revolutionized horological history". Seiko Epson.
- "The Watch That Changed Horological History" (PDF). Seiko Epson. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 31, 2010. (alternate version)
- The price of Toyota Corolla E10 was 432,000 yen (US$1,200) when it was released in 1966.
- "The new SEIKO Quartz Astron: A demonstration of SEIKO’s four decades of dedication to the perfection of the quartz watch", Seiko press release, March 18, 2010
- "Seiko Quartz 35 SQ: The Seiko 35 SQ Astron was the first quartz watch on the market", Smithsonian Institution website.
- Thompson, Joe, "1969: Seiko’s Breakout Year", WatchTime Magazine, December 20, 2009