The Seiko watch brand delivered its first wristwatch that was designed for mountain climbers in 1959. The model was a multi-purpose watch that was ideal for other kinds of recreational endeavors and field sports. The first Alpinist was so well received that it remained in production for several decades. It was first introduced to the Japanese market, but the reputation of this fine and practical timepiece soon spread to other parts of the world. It became a popular choice for sports and adventure enthusiasts around the world. Over time, the model evolved into Seiko’s Prospex collection, and it’s still available in new models. If you’re an Alpinist fan, here are the five best examples from the collections ever made.
5. Seiko Laurel Alpinist
The Laurel Alpinist was the very first model produced by Seiko. The timepiece made its debut in 1959. It captured the attention of Seiko customers with a different approach to watchmaking design. The innovative features implemented by the design team had not been used before the Laurel Alpinist. It solved many of the former problems that plagued climbers and outdoor enthusiasts. The case was a screw-back style to keep sand and dust particles from contaminating the inside of the watch. Seiko also designed a cuff band made of sturdy leather to prevent moisture from perspiration from penetrating the case. They also added luminous inserts to the hour and minute hands and indexes, to provide a bright glow to make the dial legible in all lighting conditions. Other features included markers in the shape of mountains at 3,6,9, and 12 o’clock positions to represent the four major compass points. The design would appear in future iterations of the Alpinist collection as a distinguishing feature that fans of the brand came to recognize, according to Seiko.
4. Seiko Prospex Alpinist Refference SJE085J1
The Prospex is the most recent iteration of the original Alpinist, dating back to 1959. This timepiece was designed with many of the same elements of the vintage piece is an example that merges the benefits of the past with a modern twist. The Prospex features large markers that contrast nicely gains a black gloss dial. The minute markers are white and highly legible, place on the inner ring of the dial. Instead of luminous inserts, the new Alpinist has received a treatment of Lumibrite coating on the hour and minute hands and indexes. It’s aesthetically the same with a leather strap featuring a jagged stitch design, and a box-shaped domed sapphire crystal. A few modern additions have been added including a date window and after resistance up to 10 bar. It has also received an anti-reflective coating on the inside of the sapphire crystal. This is a special limited edition with just 1,959 pieces made for distribution throughout the world.
3. Seiko Red Alpinist
The Red Alpinist was released in 1995. It featured a 4S15 caliber movement with a special sapphire crystal lens embedded with a cyclops date window that magnified that portion of the dial. The crown was moved to the four o’clock position to distinguish this model from its predecessors. A unique compass was added to the inner rim of the bezel. It was both practical for easy reading, and stylishly attractive. This was perhaps one of the most aesthetically pleasing members of the Alpinist line. Each version of the Red Alpinist featured a splash of red color with the Alpinist logo placed just under the center of the dial. Another improvement was its water resistance to 20 bar.
2. Seiko Alpinist 8F56 GMT Titanium Perpetual Calendar
Fratello reviewed the Alpinist 8F56 GMT Titanium Perpetual Calendar, released in 2003. This was a popular model that was offered with a GMT function that was placed at the top of the perpetual calendar. It was powered by an 8F56 quartz movement with exceptional accuracy. This unique diver was water-resistant to 100 meters. Seiko offered three versions of the watch featuring Sword-style hands and repositioning of the crown. It came with the choice of a black dial in a metal bracelet version, a cream-colored dial, and a cream-colored option with a leather strap.
1. Seiko Alpinist SARB Collection
The Red Alpinist was replaced with a new series in the Alpinist collection called the SARB series. This was a modernization of the Alpinist that featured a green dial version that was hard to find in its day. Each watch in the collection was powered by a new movement called the 6R15 with a power reserve of 40. It lost ten hours over the 50 hours from the 4S14 movement, but the water resistance was increased to 200 meters. The diameter of the stainless steel case was 39.5 mm which is fairly small for a diver, and a lot more comfortable. The lug to lug distance was short at 46.3. The case back was a solid screw-in style also made of stainless steel, with a sapphire crystal. Seiko removed the Alpinist logo from the front of the dial and instead, engraved the information on the case back, which was a noticeable difference over previous models. There were three variations of the SARB model offered with options for a cream dial with a metal bracelet, a black dial with a metal bracelet, and a green dial with a brown leather strap. Seiko produced a 2019 limited edition version of the SARB to celebrate 60 years of the Alpinist. This watch was limited to a production run of just 1,959 pieces. The value of the piece has since increased in value as its rarity influences collectibility. The black version of the SARB featured unique indices and hands that set it apart from the others. There were a few interesting iterations available in the last model of the Alpinist before it was discontinued under the name. Although the Alpinist continues in some form, you’ll find it under the title of Prospex.