Seiko Astron SSH063 Brings Clean-Lined Brilliance To The Collection
Seiko knows a thing or two about quartz. And whenever a brand with such an esteemed pedigree within a certain field starts throwing around statements like “best ever”, I’m prone to sit up and listen. When it comes to the Seiko Astron SSH063, I’m glad I did.
I’m a huge fan of Seiko. Who isn’t at Fratello you might ask. Furthermore, I’m not against a bit of brand bias — of giving my tried-and-tested favorites a lot of rope. And whenever Seiko releases a new watch I always sit up and pay attention unless…it is one of the Astron releases. And it’s not because they aren’t my favored mechanical marvels. I have plenty of quartz-powered watches in my collection and love them to bits.
It’s also not because there is a massive amount of modern-day technical wizardry that is hidden under the hood of the Seiko Astron watches. In general, that string of modern inventions is not necessarily my intrinsic trigger to gravitate towards a watch. Not at all. But as soon as I am confronted with all the technical powerplay, I often have no other words readily available besides a less-than-analytical, “wow!”. The level of innovation that Seiko is able to come up with is nothing less than impressive. No, it’s not that either.
The laws of visual attraction
My main issue with the Astron watches lies in the visual translation of all that technical sorcery. With the Astron watches, I find myself struggling with their very technical, often stand-offish appearance. That’s why I was surprised to find out that out of the models in the brand’s new line of Astron GPS solar watches, I felt an immediate emotional click with the icy white presence of the SSH063. And by icy, I do not just mean plain white.
Often, I find plain white a bit boring. It’s why my brain is pre-programmed to gravitate toward anything black. It’s not something conscious that attracts me to “the dark side”. It just happens naturally. But the SSH063 is here to prove me wrong. There is an incredible depth to the dial of the SSH063 because of its translucent character. If you look at the pictures you will see there are shadows to be enjoyed beneath the Seiko Astron logo. This amazing visual effect won me over pretty much immediately. I was as much amazed by the looks as I was impressed by how all that is going on on the dial, seems to fall into place naturally.
The dial also serves as the “solar panel” that charges the watch.
As it turns out, the exquisite depth makes this SSH063 an absolute joy to put on the wrist and look at time and time again. Next to that, it’s the icy cool backdrop that the watch needs to let you zoom in comfortably on all the different functions that are present on the display. And it’s not just a canvas for all the watch’s functions. The dial also serves as the “solar panel” that charges the watch. If ever there was a dial that combines style and substance perfectly, it’s this one.
The GPS Solar movement
The heart of the watch underneath that frosty surface is the groundbreaking Seiko 5X53 movement. As Rob explained in his introduction article, the 5X53 is the slimmest and most advanced GPS Solar caliber ever developed by the brand. The movement connects to a GPS signal twice a day to make sure the time is accurately displayed. Every morning at sunrise when the watch detects sunlight, it connects to a GPS signal to check the time. It does that a second time later during the day. This feature makes sure that the watch is extremely accurate no matter where you are.
Speaking of which, if you are a frequent traveler you will love the SSH063. With one push of a button, the 5X53 movement checks the local time. So if you travel through different timezones, the watch connects to a minimum of four different satellites before it adjusts to the local time. And if you think that it might take a while before that comes into effect, you’d be wrong. Like magic, within three seconds the right time is displayed on your watch.
The connectivity with the GPS signals is displayed on the sub-dial at the 9 o’clock position. It shows the number of signals it is connected to, so you can experience the process while it is happening. Additionally, that sub-dial also has a power reserve indicator, a leap second indicator, and it automatically sets daylight savings time in countries that use it.
The perfect travel watch
On top of that, the watch displays home time and local time. And you can choose which one is displayed where. By a simultaneous push of the pushers located at 2 and 4 o’clock, you can switch from showing local time in the main dial to the subdial at 6 o’clock. At the same moment, the home time switches from the subdial to the main dial. Seiko calls this feature the “time transfer function”. It’s a function that is a “nice to have” rather than a “must-have”.
Playing around with it for a bit does give you an understanding of the technical mastery of the 5X53 movement within this watch. And the reason this “time transfer function” and the setting of local time can happen at lightning speed is because the watch uses three independent motors for the hours, minutes, and seconds hands.
Furthermore, the watch features a day indication at 3 o’clock that also featurs a small separate AM/PM indication. With a date display positioned at 4.30, you have a perpetual calendar that keeps track of the correct date until the year 2100.
Wearing the Seiko Astron SSH063
All the functions are incredibly impressive and after playing around the watch for some time — and checking the manual frequently — the young boy in me settled down. It was back to actually wearing the watch and enjoying that icy white aesthetic that attracted me to the watch in the first place. The Astron SSH063 has a titanium case and titanium bracelet with a triple-fold-over clasp with a push-button release, making it light on the wrist at 105 grams. The case measures a comfortable 42.8mm size, with a substantial thickness at 14.6mm thick, and a 50mm lug-to-lug measurement. However, the watch is very easy to wear for me.
The design of the case is inspired by the original Seiko Astron from 1969.
The design of the case is said to be inspired by the original Seiko Astron from 1969. Apart from the curved silhouette and the thin bezel, the resemblance does seem a bit far-fetched. The case shape looks a lot more like the cases we have come to love from Grand Seiko. Whatever it is, the size and the curved lugs make sure that the watch sits comfortably on my wrist.
Despite its cool aesthetic, visually there is still a lot take in. However, there is a depth and layering to the dial that makes it easy to check all the displays separately. What I also like are the applied and polished indices that seem to float above the dial. Seiko’s LumiBrite is applied to the hands and indices, making it easy to check the time in darker conditions. And it gives the watch an incredible presence in low light when combined with the icy white color of the dial.
After wearing the Seiko Astron SSH063 for some time, the watch has changed my overall idea of the Astron line. It has shown me that there is a way of making Astron watches look attractive and less cold. This is remarkable because the SSH063 is technically the coldest out of the four colors that are available. What the watch has also shown me is that the Astron line is definitely worth checking out more frequently. With a strong focus on all the mechanical goodness that the Japanese brand releases, it has been a nice break to wear this crown jewel of the Astron collection.
With a list price of €2,600, Seiko’s new Astron SSH063 does come at a price. What you get in return is incredibly impressive in both accuracy and features. Combined with the titanium case and bracelet and that incredibly attractive translucent white-colored dial, this is an tempting watch. But it is surely one for the people that love the idea of the Astron collection or enthusiasts like me who fall in love with one specific detail and find it hard to forget it (for me, I am, of course, talking about that white dial). Who could have predicted that it took a Seiko Astron to potentially save me from “the Dark Side”?
For more info on the Seiko Astron SSH063, you can visit the official Seiko website here.