The Astron line may not get a lot of love around here but it’s a family that represents some pretty impressive tech and Seiko incorporates it in a manner that falls under the radar in many ways. The 140th Anniversary model here, reference SSH093, features a solar powered 5X53 caliber that can receive GPS signals to adjust to the exact time anywhere in the world. On the outside we see the same white and blue theme represented with a pair of blue rings on the dial itself to manage the slew of complications offered (including day of the week, a 24hr hand, charge levels, and modes), and a blue ceramic bezel.
There’s a lot going on with this watch, but it still manages to be relatively straightforward in its presentation and at 42.7mm in diameter and a hair of 13mm in thickness, fall into manageable territory on the wrist. The Astron 140th Anniversary model is limited to 1,400 examples and will be priced at $2,200.
Following up on its successful WatchTime Live virtual panel series last fall, and its ongoing TimeOut discussions of 2021, WatchTime Magazine next week returns with its latest digital event, partnering with Grand Seiko for the first WatchTime Live event of 2021. The event takes place next Thursday, March 4, at 5 pm EST, with pre-registration live now, here.
This event, entitled WatchTime Live Presents Grand Seiko, will feature WatchTime Editor in Chief Roger Ruegger and Grand Seiko National Training Manager and Brand Curator Joe Kirk, in a presentation and discussion of the Japanese luxury watchmaker’s 2021 releases.
Within the presentation, Grand Seiko and WatchTime will discuss the Heritage Hi-Beat “White Birch” Ref. SLGH005, with its eye-catching forestry-inspired dial; the new 24 Seasons Elegance GMT releases; with their four different designs each inspired by a different Japanese seasonal phase; and the new Spring Drive 8 Day Jewelry Watch, celebrating 140 years of the Seiko brand, among many others.
As part of the event, Grand Seiko and WatchTime will host a live trivia contest, testing the audience’s knowledge of Grand Seiko brand history and watches. Three winners will be selected live, with Grand Seiko to mail their prizes after the event. You must be present during the event to participate.
WatchTime Live Presents Grand Seiko will take place Thursday, March 4, at 5 pm EST. Pre-registration is required to join the Zoom event. Register now via the link here.
Do you have questions you want answered during the discussion? Please email them to our events coordinator, Minda Larsen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Grand Seiko, you can visit the brand’s website, here.
The key design element of this particular watch is certainly the tachymeter bezel circling the perimeter of the silver dial. It’s in a contrasting black, which looks great and is a nice complement to the aforementioned subdials, and features red and yellow blocks at around the 3:00 point on the tachymeter scale that directly follow the words “In Benzin Veritas,” which translated from Latin equates roughly to “In fuel we trust.” The blocks of color on the outside of the dial and the tints of red and yellow in the hands give the whole dial a fuel gauge feel, which seems appropriate given the nature of the collaboration. The chronograph seconds hand is also shaped like a lightning bolt, because why not? The whole package is quite a bit quirkier than what we usually see from Breitling, and it’s fun to see them give the reins over to another brand and seemingly let them run with the design.
On the technical side, the Top Time Deus runs on Breitling Caliber 23, a COSC certified chronometer movement based on a modified version of the ETA 7753 with 48 hours of power reserve. The case measures 41mm in diameter and is a little over 14mm thick. Like last year’s Top Time, the case is highly polished, which is consistent with the purpose of the original version of the watch, which was meant to be more fashionable, and less of a tool. While we’d normally like to see more reserved case finishing on a sports watch, in context the decision to polish it in this manner makes sense.
The Top Time Deus is available now through Breitling, and is limited to 1,500 examples. The retail price is set at $4,990. Breitling
Russian NHL superstar Alexander Ovechkin, winner of the 2018 Stanley Cup as captain of the Washington Capitals, joined Hublot’s star-studded stable of athlete ambassadors in 2019. Like many who preceded him — notably “fastest man alive” Usain Bolt and late NBA legend Kobe Bryant — Ovechkin has collaborated with the Swiss watchmaker on a very special wristwatch with a number of personalized elements distinctive to the hockey player nicknamed “The Great Eight.”
The Hublot Big Bang Unico Red Carbon Alex Ovechkin is distinguished foremost by its eye-catching 45-mm case and signature screwed bezel, made of lightweight carbon fiber, interlaced with red accents from “Non Woven Fabric” (NWF) micro-glass fibers, which add robustness to the composite case material from which the case is made. Both the NWF and the carbon fiber are fused with a resin-tinted adhesive, resulting in the crimson color details that reflect both the flag of Ovechkin’s Russian homeland and the uniform of his NHL team. The toughness and resiliency of the composite material, Hublot says, represents Ovi’s own longevity as an elite player in his league: drafted in 2004, the 35-year-old has played his entire career with the Capitals and scored his 700th goal in 2020, a historic feat very few players in the sport have ever achieved.
Notable details continue on the red-accented, skeletonized dial, including the “Great Eight” logo placed at the 8 o’clock position, highlighting Ovechkin’s jersey number and the nickname derived from it; and the red-white-and-blue finish on the central chronograph hand, which references both the team colors of the Washington Capitals as well as the stripes of the Russian flag. Powering the watch, with its inner workings on display from both the front and back, is Hublot’s manufacture Caliber MHUB1242, a self-winding movement equipped with a column-wheel-controlled flyback chronograph function with a double clutch; a frequency of 28,800 vph; and a power reserve of 72 hours. Its 60-minute chronograph readout is on a subdial at 3 o’clock, which intersects a date window, while small seconds tick away on a subdial at 9 o’clock. The openworked date disk, another hallmark of the Unico caliber, borders the dial beneath the applied, black-plated hour appliqués with their red luminescent coating.
The sapphire window in the back of the 100-meter water-resistant case offers a glimpse into the movement behind a red-printed Alex Ovechkin signature. Limited to 100 pieces, the watch comes on a red fabric strap with a micro-blasted black ceramic buckle, and also includes an additional black rubber strap; the two bracelets can be easily switched via Hublot’s “One Click” fastening system. As “icing on the cake” (Hublot’s pun, not mine), each watch also comes with a custom hockey puck signed by Ovechkin. Available at retail now, the Big Bang Unico Red Carbon Alex Ovechkin retails for $26,200.
Two of the new references make adjustments to the case and bracelet as well as offering new dial designs, so we’ll look at those first. The most dramatic new take on the Grandrally is a variant with a black coated case and matching bracelet, which reads as sleek and modern. While the 70s certainly saw its share of coated watches, there’s something inherently contemporary about a watch in this style, whenever it happens to be made, and I think that’s largely what Zodiac is tapping into here. We’re also getting a gold tone case, with a contrasting black outer bezel. This variant comes mounted on an alligator-style strap, lending it an easygoing, casual sportiness.
The most traditional new Grandrally is likely the silver dialed version with black subdials. Red accents on the tachymeter bezel, running seconds subdial, and chronograph seconds hand provide just enough color to keep this one visually interesting. The fourth variant has a dark gray dial with a textured weave pattern reminiscent of carbon fiber, a silver tachymeter bezel, and is mounted to a rally strap.
The new Grandrally watches are available now through Zodiac with pricing set between $495 and $595. More information can be found here.