Seiko Prospex ‘Alpinist-Inspired’ Watches For 2020

By: Michael Penate

Ever since SeiyaJapan revealed the news back in September this year, the watch community has been waiting to catch another glimpse of what might be coming in the next chapter of Seiko Alpinist history. Even if you trace its origins back to the Laurel Alpinists of the early 1960s, it’s clear that the watch really stands out when you compare it against Seiko’s* mainstream line-ups. But, I can’t think of another contemporary Seiko model with as much of a cult following—even if you consider how quirky it is. Finally, we now have a little more information about the new Seiko Prospex SPB123, SPB121, SPB119, and SPB117 “Alpinist-inspired” watches coming out in January 2020.

First of all, there are some clear changes and a couple of improvements that we’ve seen so far. Like the recently released Seiko Sumos, the new Alpinist models will be fitted with the 70-hour power reserve 6R35 movement. I’m also noticing that the 3 o’clock crown is also unsigned—a bit of a disappointment.

Buyers will have four different dials to choose from, including the wildly popular emerald green option that played a part in the Alpinist craze we see today. For some additional variation, the black dial model pictured above cuts out the Arabic numerals we see in the other models and maintains a full set of attractive, triangular indices. Something tells me this will be the one to get.

Another key change is the addition of a cyclops over the 3 o’clock date aperture, something that’ll really irk several of the purists. It never really bothered me, and I think it’s a cool addition when you consider the well-rounded, sporty nature of the watch. Finally, the new Prospex branding on the dial now finalizes the watch’s transition to one of Seiko’s modern, established collections. The USA “SPB” reference prefix also makes me wonder if we’ll start seeing a wave of new Alpinist models in the coming year, much like what we saw with the Cocktail Time.

Seiko Prospex Alpinist Specs

  • 39.5mm Case Diameter
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • Green/Black/Champagne/Grey Dial Options
  • Stainless Steel Bracelet or Leather Strap
  • 200m Water Resistance
  • Seiko 6R35 Movement
  • Price: $725-$750

Overall I think this is a sign that Seiko finally realized the importance of its modern Alpinist line. The release opens doors for new variations and if we’re lucky, added complications (the blue dial SSASS GMT will always be my favorite). But here’s the real question… with a price tag of around $300 more than what you can get a SARB017 for today, are these new models really worth springing for? Let us know in the comments.

The new Seiko Alpinist collection will be available in January 2020.

Seiko

9 thoughts on “Seiko Prospex ‘Alpinist-Inspired’ Watches For 2020”

  1. An alpinist without a sign crown, and with a cyclops which which is full of small bubbles and without a bracelet ( green & cream ) why should we pay extra $350 when we can get a sarb017 for $400 the 6r35 is also new and hasn’t been tested for a long time and I doubt if they have used spron 510 in the 6r35, so why should I pay that extra if I can get 2x new sarb017 for the price of one

    Reply
    • I’m right there with you. I also like that the SARB017 keeps the solid caseback. Time to start hunting those non-Prospex versions.

      Reply
  2. Personally, I think they’re going to be excellent; and I’m really looking forward to some side-by-side comparisons. Lots of strong reaction to these, though. I think you did a fair overview here; however, there are some out there who’ve totally lambasted these, without paying much attention to the Alpinist lineage.

    A couple of examples—unfair criticism: the cyclops. It’s not the first time on an Alpinist. Fair criticism: Movement and price. The 90s Alpinists that inspired all modern versions to date had a hi-beat 28,800 4S15 movement, and their original MSRP in today’s currency would be about $540. If the 2020 version had a hi-beat movement rather than the extra power reserve, I think their asking price would be a little more reasonable.

    I think before anyone completely roasts the new ones, they should read The Spring Bar’s excellent Ultimate Collectors Guide, and perhaps the Seiko Design article with two of the designers. There’s some excellent info in there, including surprises such as the PVD version at 42mm, the quartz perpetual calendars ones, and even the full-lume dial variation!

    I hope your speculation about the SPB versions creating room for the line to expand turn out to be true. That SSASS HAQ GMT is awesome, and I’d love to see something inspired by that show up in this new generation.

    Reply
  3. I’ve been waiting for a black Alpina at for a very long time. The older black albinism, some call it the “red” Alpinist sells at a premium Of over 1100 pre owned and is too small for me. I’m selling my 6306 turtle to raise funds for the black version of the new Alpina at. think it’s an instant classic with a great movement. The albinism has continued to be on everybody’s “one watch collection” list. A black version with an improved movement makes it even more of a draw for me.

    Reply
      • First Alpinist I’ve been interested in. Bad: Thinner is better, open casebacks for undecorated Seiko movements are not necessary, the cyclops is ok but not a deal breaker and the sterile crowns look cheap.The good (for me) The “X”, aggressive and modern, no Arabic numerals, better oyster link bracelet even if same clasp and endlinks, AR on a busy dial is cool (Breitling), matte black dial finish, and 70 hour power reserve. Bought at $650 -$750, its solid. Hasn’t the MSRP been $540(?) US for 10+ years? Anyways, mine will be here tomorrow👍

        Reply

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