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.
Michael Peñate is an American writer, photographer, and podcaster based in Seattle, Washington. His work typically focuses on the passage of time and the tools we use to connect with that very journey. From aviation to music and travel, his interests span a multitude of disciplines that often intersect with the world of watches – and the obsessive culture behind collecting them.