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Seiko Quartz 35 SQ

The Seiko 35 SQ Astron was the first quartz watch on the market.

The first commercially available quartz watch appeared on the market in Tokyo on Christmas Day in 1969. With a limited production run of only 100 pieces, these Seiko watches had analog dials and sold for 450,000 yen ($1250), roughly the same price as a Toyota Corolla. The Astron utilized a hybrid circuit (a combination of circuits on a single substrate which was an intermediate step between discrete circuits and integrated circuits) and a quartz oscillator with a frequency of 8,192 cycles per second. Seiko claimed the new watches were accurate to within about 5 seconds a month, a minute a year.

At the time Seiko produced more mechanical watches than any other firm in the world, but company officials had been experimenting with quartz timekeeping since the late 1950s. Their first quartz product was a clock used as a time standard in radio broadcasting. In 1959 a team was assembled to develop a quartz wristwatch. Their first quartz products were battery-powered chronometers, one of which was used in the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964. By 1967, Seiko engineers had miniaturized the timekeeper to produce a wristwatch prototype. To develop manufacturing techniques required another two years.

Seiko's development efforts resulted in a variety of quartz watches marketed in the early 1970s.

In 1971 Seiko marketed an improved 35SQ that utilized a more accurate quartz oscillator (16,384HZ compared to the original 8,192HZ). The 38SQW series succeeded the 35 series that same year. Earlier in 1970 the 36SQC had been introduced and was the first quartz watch to use a CMOS chip (a low energy integrated circuit invented at Fairchild in 1963). The 39 series introduced in 1972 represented improvements on the 36SQC, which had been discontinued shortly after its launch due to minor defects.

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