Serving An Ace: watches

Quill & Pad
Jul 1, 2017 · 5 min read

by Elizabeth Doerr

As Wimbledon 2017 gets underway, I felt the need to write about the Seiko Astron that tennis ace Novak Djokovic is currently sporting.

Previously an Audemars Piguet ambassador, Djokovic switched to Seiko in 2014, and it has been quite a fruitful relationship for the Japanese watch brand and the Serbian tennis player — so fruitful that the two renewed the contract at the end of 2016 for another four years, binding the extraordinary athlete to the Japanese giant until 2020 (see Seiko Nets Renewed Partnership With Novak Djokovic).

Seiko describes this watch as the “dress Astron,” and Djokovic wears it as one of three in rotation; the Astron is his dedicated “travel watch.”

Seiko Astron Novak Djokovic Limited Edition SSE143
Seiko Astron Novak Djokovic Limited Edition SSE143

Seiko Astron Novak Djokovic Limited Edition SSE143

Seiko created the SSE143 special edition model in celebration of Djokovic’s career Grand Slam — meaning that the Serb has won the Australian Open, Roland Garros (French Open), Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open, just not in one calendar year as is required to win what is known as a Grand Slam (but in his case, in a row — wow!).

Novak Djokovic sporting a Seiko Astron at the Sony Open in 2014

Seiko Astron: solar power and GPS

The first watch called Seiko Astron was released on Christmas Day, 1969 — and this was truly a watch that changed the world as it was the first quartz wristwatch to hit retail shops.

The claim to fame of the new Astron, which was added to Seiko’s extensive lineup in 2012, is not a quartz movement. In fact, this technology is a bit more advanced in that it is solar-powered and it receives time signals via GPS so it is able to automatically recognize all of the earth’s 39 time zones. It can also be manually reset.

Seiko Astron Novak Djokovic Limited Edition SSE143
Seiko Astron Novak Djokovic Limited Edition SSE143

Seiko Astron Novak Djokovic Limited Edition SSE143

Receiving a time signal via GPS is much different and more comprehensive than conventional radio-controlled timepieces, which only receive the signals when they are in radio range in the United States, Japan, the U.K., Germany, and China. Unlike GPS, radio-controlled time displays are not able to automatically update all over the world.

The GPS technology of the Astron however works anywhere and everywhere on earth. Another added bonus is that by knowing its location as well as the time, the GPS-powered time display also automatically recognizes which time zone it is in.

The Seiko Astron receives its power from the sun’s rays (and most other light sources, though sunlight is most efficient), harnessing solar power to drive the movement. When the power reserve is fully charged, the watch will function for two months in active mode and six months in sleep mode without needing more light to convert into energy.

Only six minutes’ worth of sunlight charges the Astron for a full day.

The Astron may also be set or adjusted manually using the crown, and it can be put into airplane mode.

And for such a complicated watch, the Astron really is quite simple to set: all calendar corrections are automatic and will not need to be corrected until February 28, 2100 (which, while divisible by four, is not a leap year, but is what is known as a secular year).

Seiko Astron: space race on the tennis court

All Astrons are outfitted with ceramic bezels, an element said to offer better signal reception compared to stainless steel, and Seiko has placed a ring antenna right underneath the bezel.

This Astron SSE143’s zirconium ceramic bezel is black with the three-letter codes of the world time cities etched into it. Four of those cities — London (LON), Paris (PAR), New York (NYC), and Melbourne (MEL) — are filled in with yellow (not surprisingly, the color of a tennis ball) symbolizing the four cities in which tennis’s Grand Slam tournaments are played.

Seiko Astron Novak Djokovic Limited Edition SSE143
Seiko Astron Novak Djokovic Limited Edition SSE143

Seiko Astron Novak Djokovic Limited Edition SSE143

The brushed stripe pattern on the black dial is reminiscent of the way that a grass court is mown with darker and lighter stripes, reminding us of Wimbledon’s courts.

Instead of 12 numerals, the second time zone shown in the subdial has tennis scores on its dial ring: LOVE, 15, 30, and 40.

This watch also boasts luminous hour and minute hands thanks to Seiko’s own lume paint called Lumi Brite, a substance that Seiko says lasts longer than conventional fluorescent paint. It is 100 percent non-radioactive.

All of these dial details are highly legible thanks to Seiko’s own “superclear” coating on the sapphire crystal, which the brand claims reduces reflections by 99 percent.

Engraved back of the Seiko Astron Novak Djokovic Limited Edition SSE143
Engraved back of the Seiko Astron Novak Djokovic Limited Edition SSE143

Engraved back of the Seiko Astron Novak Djokovic Limited Edition SSE143

The stainless steel case back is engraved with Djokovic’s signature and the watch’s individual limited edition number.

And while Djokovic may not wear this watch (or any watch) on court at Wimbledon this year, you can see him wear it in a pretty cool video on Seiko’s own website at www.seikowatches.com/world/partners/seikonovakdjokovic.

Seiko supports Djokovic’s charitable organization, the Novak Djokovic Foundation, which advocates for children in the tennis player’s native Serbia.

For more information, please visit www.seiko-astron.com.

Quick Facts Novak Djokovic Limited Edition Seiko Astron
Case: 45.5 x 13 mm, stainless steel with super-hard black coating, ceramic bezel, water resistance 100 meters, magnetic resistance 4,800 A/m
Movement: solar-powered Caliber 8x42
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; perpetual calendar with large date, second time zone (24-hour display), day/night indication, world time, multi-function indicator, display of daylight savings time, indication of satellite signal reception, power save function
Limitation: 5,000 pieces
Price: $1,900

Originally published at Quill & Pad.

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