Introduced in 1961, the Alpinist line has been Seiko’s product for upscale outdoorsmen. Designed for the ‘Yamatoko’ or ‘mountain man,’ these are watches for those who hike and climb mountains. Over the years, Seiko has introduced both mechanical and quartz versions, many with compass bezels and usually waterproof to an unusual 200m (660ft).
The Alpinists are now being redesigned with three new models set to drop in late July for the Japanese domestic market. The case shape has changed considerably, and the crown is now at the 4 o’clock position, and from these pictures, it appears that they’re using a variant of the classic SKX-series divers’ watch case.
There are three new models, all with the 6R15 mechanical movement.
The first one I want to talk about is the ion-plated black SARB063 (top right). List price on this is 71,400 Yen, or about $720 USD. For that, you get a plated case and bracelet which gives the watch a fashionable flat black look. The black-framed hands are a trifle less legible but still quite readable in my opinion. The white-on-black bezel pops visually, and looks very functional.
Next is the SARB059:
Stainless case and bracelet (pictured at left), black dial, red compass markings on the chapter ring, and a nifty combined compass/time bezel. In common with the other models, it has a screwdown crown, domed mineral glass crystal, screwdown caseback, 23-jewel movement, and accuracy rated to -15/+25 seconds per day.
Handsome, unobtrusive, and a very legible face. I like the nice touch of white-on-black date window and bold hands.
List price is 60,900 Yen, or about $600 USD.
Last but not least is the budget model, the SARB061 (lower right). List price is 57,750 Yen, or about $580 USD. For that, you get a rubber strap instead of a bracelet, and only the bezel is ion-plated for a nice contrast with the stainless steel case.
Weight on these three is unknown; thickness is listed at a reasonable 13mm.
The previous generation of Alpinists was less to my liking, but these are a delight. Every detail of them is functional and sans-serif. The protected crown and dual-function bezel make these watches that you can wear from weekend to weekday and even to the scuba dive. They’re only available in Japan, but a bit of searching and should find you a vendor or two willing to ship to the rest of the world.
By Paul Hubbard