The New Trio Seiko Alpinist Models: A Collector’s Guide in 2021

Seiko has been a trusted brand of watches for countless years. Many have adorned this brand because its pieces come at very affordable prices with consistently high quality. Since its first release, the Seiko Alpinist has been immensely popular, gaining many positive reviews from popular sites and magazines. Now, the newest release of the Seiko Alpinist has become the talk of the town, especially for watch collectors.

Pay close attention, as we tell you everything you need to know about the three newest models of the Seiko Alpinist.

Seiko Alpinist’s Old Models

The Seiko Alpinist was first released back in 1959. It was designed as a traditional sports watch, intended to meet every mountain climber’s and recreational athlete’s needs. Although it was initially made for the Japanese market, the Seiko Alpinist’s popularity quickly spread beyond the borders of Japan.  

The original design of the Seiko Alpinist had a screw-back case and a sturdy leather cuff band.  Luminous inserts could be found in the indexes, hour and minute hands, and the remarkable mountain-shaped markers at the three, six, nine, and twelve o’clock positions. These particular designs were made to give the watch more classic aesthetic and greater durability, preventing dust or small particles from entering the case and protecting it from any moisture and water. These designs remain incredibly popular even today, pushing Seiko to apply them to the new Seiko Alpinist-inspired models. 

New Seiko Alpinist-Inspired Models

Originally designed as a traditional sports watch, the Seiko Alpinist’s design has evolved over the years, from a traditional sports watch to a highly functional watch that fully embodies the Seiko Prospex collection today. The re-created Seiko Alpinist features an upscaled quality, and these new wristwatches join the ranks of other innovative collections under the brand, such as the Seiko Presage. In fact, these timepieces are the hybrid models of the Prospex series.

One notable change to the new Seiko Alpinist watches is the elimination of the “Alpinist” label on the dial or caseback. Instead, they are now referred to as Alpinist-inspired watches. Nevertheless, the iconic markers, dials, rings, straps, and indexes are still made with the same designs as their predecessors. 

Get to Know More About the Recreation of 1959 Seiko Alpinist

Did you know that the original Seiko Alpinist watches paved the way for Seiko to enter into the sports watch arena? Its first-ever model was introduced in 1959 as part of the Laurel collection. This particular collection from Seiko was among the first in the watch industry to produce an enamel dial produced by the company itself. This collection was especially well-received by the public because of how the watches were well-designed. Its popularity as a trailblazer led the brand to develop more sports watches and other timing devices for sports such as the Seiko 5 Sports.

In 2003, another batch of Seiko Alpinist watches was produced, this time featuring a quartz movement. The watches possessed a high-precision caliber movement 8F56 with a frequency of 196,609. A few of its remarkable features included the GMT function and perpetual calendar. And unlike the modern Seiko Alpinist watches, the 2003 models featured a titanium case and bracelet with 100-meter water resistance. The 2003 batch was only available in two versions: Seiko Alpinist SBCJ021 (cream dial) and SBCJ019 (black dial) with illumination. 

The third generation of Alpinist watches was released in 2006. Now, these watches—SARB017, SARB013, and SARB015—were the most famous among all, especially the SARB017, nicknamed the “Alpinist Green” for its green dial. It featured different dials and as well as upgraded movement and indices. Unfortunately, the production of these watches was discontinued by Seiko in 2018.

Most recently, in 2020, Seiko released a new collection of what they label as “Alpinist-inspired” watches, marketed as part of Seiko’s Prospex line. The famous SPB117, SPB119, and SPB121 bear the 6R35 caliber movement and a cyclops (magnifier) over the 3 o’clock date aperture. The SPB117 stands out among all as it is the only model that has a different bracelet and indices. Read more below to find out about these watches.

New Features of Seiko Alpinist-Inspired Models

Seiko itself announced that they made a considerable number of changes to the watches. It is available in three different models: green dial (SPB121), black dial (SPB117), and gray dial (SPB119). Some of the changes that you should look out for include:

  • New automatic 6R35 caliber movement
  • Upgraded power reserve up to 70 hours
  • Use of stainless steel material
  • Slimmer cases
  • Twin crown set up
  • Cyclops over the date window

Each model has its own unique characteristics that would perfectly match its owner while staying consistent with the line’s overall hybrid design and layout. 

SPB117 Model

What to look for in your Seiko Alpinist SPB117 model:

  • Three-link oyster bracelet
  • Mountain-shaped indices
  • Small Prospex “X” logo on the dial
  • Cathedral-styled hands

The SPB117 shows a different dial design than the other models. This is also the only watch that comes with a stainless steel Seiko Alpinist’s bracelet with oyster-styled links, making it versatile enough to be worn by both men and women who have outfit variations. The links of the bracelet are sturdy, measuring 20mm lug width, which is thinner than other watches. The three-link bracelet is all-brushed, easy to wear, and gives a smooth, functional feel. 

The sought-after black dial does not have the usual Arabic or Roman numerals; it simply has the triangular indexes that are inspired by the Seiko Alpinist models. The iconic red “20 bar” label is found below the “X” symbol that marks this as a Prospex watch. An outer compass ring is present in the bezel with two rings of markings. The inner marks every one degree, while the outer ring marks every 15 degrees.

Like the previous Alpinists, the SPB117 has cathedral-style hands with a luminescent feature generously applied up to the tips. A newly-styled date display window shows a larger numeral on a white background. All these are enclosed with a 39.5 mm stainless steel and a Seiko Alpinist’s 46mm lug to lug case, which is water-resistant up to 200m, or 660ft. Lastly, you do not need to worry about the readability of the numerals, since a magnifier is included in the new features. All of these wearable features from the SPB117 come with just $750.

SPB119 Model

What to look for in your Seiko Alpinist SPB119 model:

  • White dial
  • Huge Arabic numerals on even numbers
  • Rotating compass bezel
  • Cathedral style hands

The Seiko SPB119 is another professional watch Seiko has added to their collection. It is a 39.5mm watch that showcases a very clean and sleek design. One unique feature of the SPB119 is that, among the newly-issued models, it is the only variant with a white dial. The rotating compass bezel is controlled by a dedicated crown at 4 o’clock, making it another feature of its directional bearings. This feature works by holding the watch horizontally and pointing the hour hand towards the sun. This will allow you to set the internal compass bezel accordingly. 

The new silver indices of the SPB119 are another notable change from the SARB013, an older, similarly white-dialed Alpinist model that featured gold-colored indices. Comfort is also a priority in this timepiece, as it comes with a black calfskin leather strap and a sturdy, durable deployant clasp. This kind of strap is easier to use and can be secured just by fastening it and expanding the strap’s size accordingly. Like the other new models, the SPB119 also features a sapphire crystal with a magnifier on the exterior for a more readable time display. 

For a price of $699 only, the SPB119 provides every wearer a decent and functional watch that has an accuracy of +25 to -15 seconds per day. Powered by the 6R35 caliber movement, it moves automatically with a manual winding capacity and beats at 3Hz with 24 jewels. The 6R35 caliber movement also provides an upgraded power reserve of 70 hours, which is great if you intend to wear the SPB119 for several days. 

SPB121 Model

What to look for in your Seiko Alpinist SPB121 model:

  • Green dial
  • Gold numerals and indices
  • NATO strap
  • Perfect lug to lug measurement

Released for a price of $659.00, the SPB121 model stood out among the rest because of its unique golden numeral markers placed in a sunburst green dial. It also has minimalistic, simply-styled letterings for its label. The Prospex “X” logo found at the bottom signifies emphasizes its status as part of Seiko’s Prospex collection. An inner rotatable compass ring can also be found at the 4 o’clock position.

The watch’s 39.5mm stainless steel case is a great size for all wrists, whether men or women. A lug-to-lug size of 46.4mm is the perfect measurement, carefully balancing the sturdiness and the versatility of the watch. This is a watch you can opt to wear as either a casual dress watch or as a professional watch. The versatile combination of silver, gold, and green colors makes this watch perfect for any attire a wearer could have. 

The SPB121 also has a screw-back case with an open window, allowing you to easily view the movement inside. Also, a date magnifier is placed in the watch, along with an upgraded sapphire crystal that is AR-coated. Some collectors prefer to pair this watch with a NATO strap to make it look more sporty. Its 200-meter water resistance allows you to do outdoor activities like swimming and diving without having to worry about the static pressure exerted on the watch. 

Who Should Buy These?

Anyone who has an admiration for classic, luxurious, and valuable watches would definitely love to wear one of these Seiko Alpinist-inspired timepieces. Though these are made with high-quality materials and upgraded features, they still come with inexpensive prices that are easy for almost any watch collector to afford. 

Furthermore, since 1881, Seiko has been a favorite of many watch enthusiasts. Its watches have become the symbol of value and style. Even famous personalities like Kristen Stewart, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sandra Bullock have shown their appreciation for this brand. For anyone looking to wear the same timepieces as your favorite celebrities, Seiko watches are an affordable and reliable choice.

Pre-Owned Buying Tips

Hundreds of Seiko watch imitations are sold anywhere, online and in-store. Some are even sold at higher prices with very low quality. As such, we want to help you have your own authentic watch by giving you these tips:

  • Buy from Reliable Sellers

Make sure that you are buying from a reliable store or seller before making an offer to save yourself from fraud. Watchshopping.com is a reputable store of watches that sells several watch brands, including Seiko. It promises buyers 100% authentic products with safe and secure payment. You can also go to Seiko online communities to check for some other stores that are verified by members.

  • Look for Replacement Parts

If you are buying a Seiko watch, make sure to check its worn parts like the dial, bezel, or hands. Oftentimes, pre-owned watches are already being serviced and replaced with new old stock (NOS) parts. So, before paying the full price, you should determine the age of each part.

  • Verify the Serial Numbers

Verifying the serial number (comprised of six digits) means it should match the model number. Engravings on the case, movement, and bracelet should also match with those on authentic Seiko watches. Reference numbers of Seiko watches are commonly found on the caseback bearing the case code and the movement. 

2021 Seiko Alpinist Models

Available in August 2021, the SPB241J1, SPB243J1, SPB245J1, and the limited edition SJE085J1 will be the latest versions of the Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Re-creation. 

First, the SJE085J1 Limited Edition, with only 1,959 available pieces, is one of the most awaited timepieces from the upcoming release. Among the re-created timepieces, it is the only one that is powered by Caliber 6L35 with an accuracy of +15 to -10 seconds per day and 45 hours of power reserve. It embodies the original Seiko Alpinist with a leather strap that sits within a protective cuff band.

This watch is smaller and thinner than its predecessors, with measurements of 36.6mm case diameter, a lug-to-lug of 43.8mm, and a thickness of only 11.1mm. It features a stainless steel case material with a box-shaped sapphire crystal for additional durability. The black dial contains silver hands and indices come with the Lumibrite feature that creates a multi-dimensional effect on the surface of the dial. 

Seiko has not specified the magnifying feature on the SJE085J1 Limited Edition, but we can be sure that it comes with a date display and stop-seconds function. The watch is also 20-bar water-resistant, allowing it to withstand water pressures up to 200 meters.

Unlike the SJE085J1 Limited Edition, the other three models SPB241J1 (white dial), SPB243J1 (black dial), and the SPB245J1 (green dial) are powered by Caliber 6R35 with a 38mm cases diameter and 12.9mm thickness. More differences from the Limited Edition piece include the curved sapphire crystal, a three-fold clasp with a push-button release for the strap, 10 bar water resistance, and a see-through caseback. 

Quick History of Seiko Watches

If you have wondered where and when did Seiko start as a watch company, it all began in 1881 in Japan. A 21-year old, Kintaro Hattori, braved the big city of Tokyo to open a small shop where he sold and repaired watches and clocks. 

After more than a decade, his humble shop grew and was fully established. Following a factory expansion, Hattori’s place of business was later named the ‘Seikosha’, which translates to “exquisite house” or “success house”. The shop-turned-factory marked the beginning of Hattori’s accomplishment as one of the world’s most important manufacturers of timepieces.

In the late 1890s, Kintaro Hattori broadened the range of his business, from producing simple wall clocks to innovating a new model of a pocket watch, which he called the “Timekeeper”. This development added to the country’s pride in keeping up with modern technology. Fast forward to 1913, and Seikosha produced Japan’s first-ever wristwatch, The Laurel. This step forward made the brand popular more than ever, pushing it to become a manufacturing force in the horology industry that created hundreds of watches a day. 

Seikosha was then rebranded to Seiko in 1924. This was after Seiko released several timepieces internationally that allowed the brand to become synonymous with accuracy and precision, innovation, and refinement. 

Recent innovations and development from Seiko include the Seiko Astron GPS Solar watch that was made with a 6-hour chronograph and an energy-saving technology, the Seiko EPD watch that was considered as the world’s first watch with an active matrix system, and the Seiko Spring Dive that was equipped with energy efficiency and friction reduction. 

Conclusion

Over the years, the Seiko Alpinist has gone through a lot of changes, from its movement, cases, straps, indices, and dials. Despite all these changes, however, it has established and maintained its own identity in the wide world of watches. The re-created Seiko Alpinist watches continue to combine fashion, functionality, and affordable prices, while also providing a variety of styles for everyone to choose from.

Can’t get enough of Seiko watches? Check out more of its best-selling watch collections like the Presage and Brightz. If you are looking for another watch guide that could help you in choosing your dream wristwatch, read our watch buying guide articles and get yourself familiarized. 

Photo credits: All photos courtesy of Seiko’s official website unless stated below the image.

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