Seiko Alpinist: The Return of a Cult Favourite 

Feb 11, 2020
Seiko Alpinist: The Return of a Cult Favourite 

The Seiko Alpinist — Seiko’s well-loved mountaineering watch — is back! And it’s fiercer than ever!

When Seiko announced in early 2018 that they will be discontinuing the cult favourite Seiko Alpinist SARB017 along with some other models, the watch community was a tad sad. So can you imagine their delight when the legendary watch model is back with impressive upgrades! 

Although the reason behind the suspension of the production was not clear, many are just happy to see their favourite Alpinist back.

Seiko Alpinist, History of the Seiko Alpinist
Photo from www.seiko-design.com

History of the Seiko Alpinist

Introduced in 1961, the Seiko Alpinist was designed as a reliable and sturdy watch for sports devotees. The launch of this watch marked an important milestone for Seiko as this was the first sports watch ever introduced by the brand. 

Throughout the years, there were seven generations of the iconic Alpinist that were introduced. The first one was the Laurel Alpinist, introduced in 1961, followed by the Alpinist Champion 850 series launched in 1963. 

It wasn’t until after 32 years later that Seiko launched its third-generation Alpinist. Introduced in 1995, the Red Alpinist had an automatic hand-winding 4S15 calibre movement. In 2003 came the Seiko Alpinist GMT Titanium Prospex, its fourth-generation Alpinist. It had a titanium case, featuring a perpetual calendar and powered by a quartz movement.  

Seiko Alpinist 2006 Models, Alpinist Watches
Photo from www.strapcode.com

A Cult Favourite

In 2006, the fifth-generation Alpinist watches — the SARB013 (beige dial), SARB015 (black dial) and SARB017 (green dial) — made their entry into the watch world, and straight into the hearts of their fans. All the watches featured the in-house 6R15 automatic movement, as well as water resistance of up to 200 meters.

The green-dialled Alpinist — the SARB017, with its elegant and unique colour combinations instantly became a cult favourite. Understandably so, as the watch can take you from business meetings to happy hour without compromising on style and panache. It wasn’t surprising then, that these three models became the longest available in the market — until their discontinuation in 2018. 

Not long after, in 2009, the seventh-generation Alpinists were launched. The SARB059, SARB061 and SARB063 were all-black Seiko Alpinist Takeshi Mizukoshi limited-edition models. But they failed to overshadow the fame of the Green Alpinist ‘SARB017’.

The Green Alpinist SARB017, Seiko Alpinist
Photo from www.thedivewatchconnection.com

What Makes the SARB017 Special

The Green Alpinist, as the SARB017 is fondly called, runs on the in-house 6R15 automatic calibre movement, which, owing to its Spron 510 mainspring, boasts extreme accuracy and has up to 50 hours of power reserve. 

Its 39.5mm stainless steel case highlights the iconic deep-green dial with luminous, gold-accented hands and hour markers. It features an anti-scratch sapphire crystal and Seiko’s Diashock system. This is the brand’s anti-shock system for its watches that protects against violent impacts, ensuring their accuracy.

The Alpinist SARB017 also boasts a rotating compass bezel that is operated by the second crown found at the 4 o’clock position. What’s more, it features a 200m water-resistance, a huge plus for a non-dive watch! An elegant brown crocodile-patterned calf leather strap completes the design. 

With its simple yet sturdy design that works, the Green Alpinist was every watch lover’s favourite. And many predicted that it will only be a matter of time before Seiko brings it back.

New Seiko Prospex Alpinist Models 2020, Seiko Prospex Alpinist

An Exciting Comeback

True enough — and as predicted and by popular demand, the Seiko Alpinist is back with new models launched in January! And they’re more suave and impressive than ever! The best part? The cult-favourite Green Alpinist model is back, too, with upgraded specs! 

Launched under Seiko’s Prospex collection — the new Alpinist comes in four different models: SPB117J1 (black dial & steel bracelet), SPB119J1 (beige dial & black leather strap), SPB121J1 (iconic green dial & brown leather strap), and SPB123J1 (beige dial & green leather strap).

These new models run on the upgraded Seiko 6R35 automatic movement, which boasts 24 jewels and a robust 70 hours of power reserve — as compared to the previous 6R15 calibre movement with 23 jewels and 50-hour power reserve. 

As it turns out, Seiko either retained or upgraded all our favourite features in the old Alpinist. How cool is that? Aside from the upgraded automatic movement with an additional 20 hours of power reserve, the watches also feature a date magnifier and anti-reflective coating sapphire crystal.

However, since they’re now under the Prospex line, the Prospex “X” logo is now visible at 6 o’clock. This replaces the words “Diashock 23 Jewels” of the old models.

Below, we have the detailed specs of each of the new Seiko Prospex Alpinist watches.

Seiko Prospex Alpinist SPB117J1, Seiko Prospex Alpinist

1. Seiko Prospex Alpinist SPB117J1 

Probably the most classic-looking among the bunch, the Alpinist SPB117J1 (also known as Ref. SBDC087) features a black dial and a stainless bracelet — inspired by the 2006 model ‘Sharks Tooth’ Alpinist SARB015. 

The old SARB015 model runs on the automatic 6R15 movement with a 50-hour power reserve. But this new Seiko Prospex Alpinist SPB117J1 has Seiko’s latest engine — the Calibre 6R35. It’s an automatic movement with 24 jewels and boasts a 70-hour power reserve.

The iconic matte-black dial features the Alpinist baton with applied ‘shark’s tooth’ indexes and minute numerals. Another very useful upgrade is its more-durable sapphire crystal with a magnifying ‘cyclops’ at 3 o’clock for the date display.

Specs:

  • Case: 39.5mm stainless steel (13.2㎜ thick)
  • Movement: Automatic hand-winding Calibre 6R35
  • Power Reserve: 70 hours
  • Water Resistance: 200 metres
  • Accuracy: +25 to -15 seconds per day
  • Crystal: Sapphire with magnifier and anti-reflective coating
  • Dial: Black with Lumibrite hands and indexes
  • Strap: Stainless steel

Other features: 

  • ‘Cyclops’ date display at 3 o’clock
  • Rotating compass inner ring
  • See-through caseback
  • Screw-down crown
  • Stop second hand function 

Seiko Prospex Alpinist SPB119J1, Seiko Alpinist 2020

2. Seiko Prospex Alpinist SPB119J1 

An elegant timepiece that could easily pass as a dress watch, the new Alpinist SPB119J1 (also known as Ref. SBDC089) is a class act with its retro beige dial and black calfskin leather strap. 

Just like the SPB117J1 model, it runs on the upgraded Calibre 6R35 automatic movement with a 70-hour power reserve. The beige-cream dial features applied hour markers and cathedral handset. Meanwhile, the new and improved cyclops date aperture still sits at 3 o’clock.

Note that for all these new models, the Prospex “X” logo replaces the words “Diashock 23 jewels” at 6 o’clock. This signifies that these new models are now part of the Seiko Prospex collection.

Specs:

  • Case: 39.5mm stainless steel (3.2㎜ thick)
  • Movement: Automatic hand-winding Calibre 6R35
  • Power Reserve: 70 hours
  • Water Resistance: 200 metres
  • Accuracy: +25 to -15 seconds per day
  • Crystal: Sapphire with magnifier and anti-reflective coating
  • Dial: Beige with Lumibrite hands and indexes
  • Strap: Black calfskin leather

Other features: 

  • Cyclops’ date display at 3 o’clock
  • Rotating compass inner ring
  • See-through caseback
  • Screw-down crown
  • Stop second hand function

Seiko Prospex Alpinist SPB121J1, Seiko Green Alpinist 2020

3. Seiko Prospex Alpinist SPB121J1 

The model that everyone is excited about, the new Alpinist SPB121J1 (also known as Ref. SBDC091) is the reincarnation of the cult favourite Green Alpinist SARB017. It features the same moss green dial encased within a 39.5mm stainless case and an elegant brown leather strap. 

The subtle differences include the new Calibre 6R35 automatic movement, the cyclops date window, and a see-through caseback, among others. The rest is almost the same, including the 200m water resistance. 

Specs:

  • Case: 39.5mm stainless steel (3.2㎜ thick)
  • Movement: Automatic hand-winding Calibre 6R35
  • Power Reserve: 70 hours
  • Water Resistance: 200 metres
  • Accuracy: +25 to -15 seconds per day
  • Crystal: Sapphire with magnifier and anti-reflective coating
  • Dial: Green with Lumibrite hands and indexes
  • Strap: Brown calfskin leather

Other features: 

  • Cyclops’ date display at 3 o’clock
  • Rotating compass inner ring
  • See-through caseback
  • Screw-down crown
  • Stop second hand function

Seiko Prospex Alpinist SPB123J1, Seiko Alpinist 2020

4. Seiko Prospex Alpinist SPB123J1 

A fresh take on the Alpinist, the SPB123J1 model (also known as Ref. SBDC093) features a moss green calfskin leather strap, which goes perfectly well with the stainless steel case and a beige dial. The gold-tone baton-style hour markers and hands further complement the cream dial.

Just like the previous three models above, the Alpinist SPB123J1 runs on the Calibre 6R35 automatic movement. It also boasts water-resistance of up to 200 meters.

Specs:

  • Case: 39.5mm stainless steel (3.2㎜ thick)
  • Movement: Automatic hand-winding Calibre 6R35
  • Power Reserve: 70 hours
  • Water Resistance: 200 metres
  • Accuracy: +25 to -15 seconds per day
  • Crystal: Sapphire with magnifier and anti-reflective coating
  • Dial: Beige with Lumibrite hands and indexes
  • Strap: Green calfskin leather

Other features: 

  • Cyclops’ date display at 3 o’clock
  • Rotating compass inner ring
  • See-through caseback
  • Screw-down crown
  • Stop second hand function

 

If you’re looking for some couple watches just in time for Valentine’s Day, then check out our couple watches feature here.

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