For 2017, Seiko Astron has decided to pursue a more classical look with alpha hands, a big date complication, and even models with Roman numerals.
The first three models we’ll look at are the highest-end of the new Astron collection, including the SSE137, yellow gold-accented SSE139 and black/rose gold accented SSE141.
Already we can see a lot of the changes that have gone into the Big-Date collection in this SSE139. The first, of course, is the Big-Date complication. Stylistically, the watch appears to draw from the brand’s incredibly popular Kinetic Perpetual Calendar models, which is fitting in the sense that all modern Astrons have perpetual calendars. The dial layout is very similar, but in terms of subdial layout (not complications themselves), reversed.
Naturally, the Astron Big-Date has GPS time and time zone syncing capabilities, making it a favorite among frequent travelers. The three watches above feature a combination of titanium and ceramic, finding a nice balance between weight and scratch resistance. These are all 44.8mm, interestingly slightly smaller than their steel companion pieces.
The next three watches are the slightly larger (at 45.5mm), and significantly more affordable, steel and ceramic variations. These also tend to be a touch sportier. Their members include the SSE139, SSE149, SSE151 and the SSE153. Here we’re looking at the blue SSE147, my favorite of the steel models.
The SSE147 and this SSE149 have a distinctively sportier character than all other members of the Big-Date collection, probably due to their lack of Roman numerals.
The steel side of the collection isn’t entirely lacking in Roman numerals, however. The layout has a strong (although more subdued) Galante feel to me, skipping odd numbers entirely.
This is also the part of the collection where we find the rose-gold colored steel SSE153, so far the only option for fans who want a gold-colored case.
As is the case with every new Astron collection, there’s a limited edition available, in this case the Novak Djokovic SSE143. This is by far the sportiest of the collection, and the only one with Giugiaro-style Arabic numerals and yellow accents. Oddly, for a collection that aims to be dressier than its predecessors, I find the limited edition to be my favorite of the entire Big-Date lineup.
All in all, another good step for Astron being elevated into an entirely separate collection of watches, not unlike Grand Seiko has become. I can only imagine that some day Seiko plans on giving the Astron more of its own independent identity, which shouldn’t be too hard given its unique technology and a very clear design vision that is shared between all models. I’m a fan of big date complications in general, so this is a nice touch for me, although it’d be tough to decide between the Big-Date and the simpler World-Time if I wanted a toned-down Astron. Fortunately, the other Astron collections, namely the Dual-Time, World-Time and Chronograph live on, so this is just another layer of choice for potential Astron collectors.
Update! I have a new favorite from the new-for-2017 Astrons, and it’s this surprise-release Giugiaro SSE121. This offset chronograph is strongly reminiscent of the famous Aliens chronograph, albeit with significant styling and massive technological updates. I think it looks awesome! The $2,900 SSE121 is limited to just 3,000 models worldwide.