If the Rolex Explorer is for the western world, we can also say that the Seiko Alpinist is for the eastern world, in the world of watchmaking who does not know this iconic watch? The accessible “Japanese Explorer”.
It is curious to observe in history how many times the path of different people, and in this case, different objects, take similar directions, without any correlations and connections. The story of the Seiko Alpinist could well be the story of the Rolex Explorer, developed by Japanese climbers in the first half of the 1960s, who created a line of robust watches prepared to work in extreme conditions. The Seiko Alpinist as we know it today was only born in 2006, with the launch of three variants in the SARB series, the SARB013 with a white (cream) dial, the SARB015 with a black dial and the SARB017 with a green dial. But only one variant of these three watches remains today or to be more precise, until the beginning of 2018, the SARB017 which has become almost a legend, with green dial and gold hands. Last year, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Alpinist, Seiko launched a limited edition with blue dial and silver hands and markers, the SPB089, which sold out almost before it was released.
The new Alpinist … sorry, the new inspired “Seiko Alpinist” long announced and expected, just arrived this January, now within the “Seiko Prospex” line and as it happened 14 years ago, with the same three dial variants, SPB117 with a black dial, SPB119 with a white (cream) dial, SPB121 with a green dial and an additional variant with the dial also white, but with gold hands and marks, SPB123.
Now let’s take a look at what these new versions bring, to start a new automatic movement, the 6R35 replaces the old movement 6R15, with a power reserve of more than 70h, 21,600 Vph and 24 jewels. Outside, a new anti-reflective coating in sapphire crystal with date magnifier (cyclops). The “X” logo, the symbol of the Seiko Prospex line, is now on the dial. The word “Alpinist” seems to have been completely banned from this new model, the previous solid caseback engraved with “Alpinist” name, now gives way to a glass where we can observe the new movement in the house and these are the main differences that we could find. These watches are equipped with two unsigned crowns both (unlike the previous one that used to have the signed main crown), threaded crown, internal rotating compass, cathedral hands, 39.50 mm in diameter and 13.20 mm in thickness (46.30 mm lug-to-lug length), lug width 20 mm and water resistance of 200 meters.
These four models have some differences between them, while the SPB117 comes with an oyster style bracelet, the SPB119, the SPB121 and SPB123 come with a leather strap (brown, black and green respectively). The dials are similar in SPB119, SPB121 and SPB123; the only differences are in the colour scheme of these three watches, the SPB119 and SPB123 show a white (cream) dial, silver and gold hands and markers, respectively, while the SPB121 comes with a green dial and golden hands and markers. The SPB117 features a distinctive dial, without Arabic numerals and inverted triangles in place of markers, another distinctive detail is the inscription “20 Bar” that appears on the dial in red.
Regarding prices, these watches should be available from € 739 for the version with steel bracelet and € 719 for the versions with a leather strap, just like with other Seiko models for just another € 20, it is possible to get a steel bracelet very well made, instead of a leather bracelet, which is a real bargain these days. Our opinion based only on information and images, as we have not yet had the opportunity to have them in hand, is that this is a great launch and that will leave many fans happy. Like the other our article about Seiko SKX, we suggest if you want to have one of these watches in your collection or just buy a nice watch to wear on your wrist, try to get the previous SARB017 because it is still available from some online retailers and with for sure you will be able to get an iconic piece for much less money than new ones.