Seiko and Giugiario aren’t two names that most people would ordinarily associate – one is a maker of a bewilderingly diverse range of wristwatches, and the other is a design house most famous for a huge series of automotive designs for firms as varied as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lancia, and Ford. Giugario has also produced everything from camera designs to phones to (believe it or not) several guns, including collaborations with Beretta. Maybe, after all, the two companies do have something in common: the ability to generate an enormous number of different incarnations of their design visions. Of course, for Seiko enthusiasts, the fact that Seiko and Giugiario work together is old news.
Probably the most famous Giugiario x Seiko collaborations are the so-called "Alien" quartz chronographs, which get their name from having been worn by characters in films in the Alien franchise. The distinctive, asymmetrical cases of models 7A28-7000 and 7A28-6000 (above) are instantly recognizable; they were worn by the android Bishop (played by Lance Henriksen) and by Warrant Officer Ripley (Sigourney Weaver, of course) respectively, and are known as the Bishop and Ripley chronographs. They weren’t just a style exercise, either – inside these watches was Seiko’s caliber 7A28, which was nothing less than the very first analogue quartz chronograph movement (though it was used earlier than the Aliens watches). The 7A28 was a 15 jewel movement capable of timing to 1/10 of a second, and watches with 7A series movements weren’t just seen in the Alien franchise – Roger Moore’s James Bond wore one, in the 1985 film A View To A Kill.
Since then there have been several more Seiko x Giugiario collaborations, including quite a few re-interpretations of the Ripley and Bishop watches in 2013-2015. These have been Japan domestic market releases but there have been enough of them that if you know a true diehard Seiko enthusiast there is a good chance you might have seen one in person (where there’s a will, there’s a way). And there have been non-Alien collaborations as well, including the Seiko x Giugiario Macchina Sportiva watches, the Seiko Spirit Giugiario Design Limited Edition "Rider’s Chronograph" watches from last year, and also from just last year, a Seiko x Giugiario Astron.
The model announced today is a GPS Astron watch as well, but design-wise, it’s a direct link to the Aliens watches.
As you might expect, this is a big boy: 46.3mm x 13.3mm (slim for an Astron, first-gen models were around 17mm thick). It’s got the GPS world-time functionality that’s the basis of the Astron series; it’s solar powered of course, and it has a chronograph function as well. The case is titanium, with Seiko’s highly scratch-and-ding resistant "super-hard black coating" and the bracelet is titanium as well, with the same treatment. On top is a sapphire crystal with Seiko’s "super-clear" coating (basically an antireflective coating that does away with the bluish cast you often get with AR-coated watch crystals) and water resistance is 10 bar/100 meters, with 4,800 A/m magnetic resistance.
There are several sides to Seiko’s character – a lot of people love the classical side, as most clearly expressed in Grand Seiko; but there’s another aspect as well, which has a kind of neon, adrenaline-fueled, Shinjuki-on-a-Saturday-night intensity to it. How you react to that side of Seiko depends a lot on how much you like high energy clashes of design cues, and it probably doesn’t hurt if you spent part of your life overexposed to animé; if Grand Seiko is classic David Lean, watches like the Astron Giugiaro Design Limited Edition are pure Ghost In The Shell.
Me, I dig this one. For this sort of thing to knock your socks off, it has to have the strength of its convictions and for me, the asymmetrical case is the not-so-secret ingredient that pulls the whole thing together. Without it, it’d be just another round watch with a slightly eye-catching color scheme; with it, it’s got the same go-to-hell character you see in some of the out-of-production Sportura Kinetic models (which also worked best when they were at their most extreme). I love the design shout-out to the Aliens watches as well. If you want your wrist to go all Akira, this is a limited edition of 3,000 pieces and U.S. pricing is $2,900.
Check out the Seiko x Giugiario mini-site right here.