Seiko Alpinist Review – Is The SARB017 Classic Worth Owning

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Seiko gave life to numerous popular collections that were eventually discontinued. This includes the Seiko Alpinist which was known as the “Explorer’s” watch because of its sturdy built and functions made for mountaineers.

If you’re a fan of the first-generation Seiko Alpinist, you surely wouldn’t want to miss out on the chance to see what its successors can offer.

The SARB017 Alpinist Backstory

The first-generation Seiko Alpinist (SARB017) was designed for Japanese mountaineers who want to explore the country’s craggy surfaces. The Seiko Alpinist is easily discernible due to its twin crown setup and internal compass.

Sadly, the line was later stopped because it became outdated.

The good news is that due to the wide popularity of the SARB017, Seiko decided to revive the model by installing new technology. Although the newer versions of the Seiko Alpinist are a far cry from the first-generation’s minimalistic design, the components inside the newer models are way better than the old ones using obsolete technology.

Along with several watches that were given new life and made more upscale like the Sumo and the Prospex collections, the new Alpinist models have been equipped with better components and presented with new designs.

Oddly enough, Seiko is moving away from calling this new line “Alpinist” even though it’s the name that stuck to the minds of users for a long time. Still, fans of the collection still call these new models Alpinist, and nothing can stop them from doing so.

Design and Movement

The new Seiko Alpinist measures 39.5mm wide and 13.2mm thick – manageable dimensions suitable for any wrist size. It retains the wearing comfort that its predecessor had and that fans loved.

Seiko has been generous in using sapphire crystal on their new watches instead of Hardlex crystals. The Seiko Alpinist is no exception to this, giving the watch a brilliance that’s more emphasized than the older model.

The new Alpinist features a date window at the 3 o’clock position. On top of it is a cyclops lens that magnifies the date reading. This kind of feature wasn’t present in the older Alpinist model, but Seiko decided to add a cyclops date window – to the disappointment of many fans.

The Seiko Alpinist features new colors aside from the minimalistic theme that the older model had.

The SPB121 Alpinist has a deep green dial and a brown calf leather strap. The gold applied hour markers are combined with Arabic numeral and cone-shaped markers. The watch has luminous hands and dot markers on the outer portion of the dial.

The SPB119 features almost the same style as the SPB121 except for the white dial, silver hour markers, and black calf leather strap. A hint of orange can be found on the internal compass that signifies the north direction.

Seiko Alpinist stainless steel strap

The SPB117 has a black dial and silver applied hour markers and is probably the most popular model among the three Seiko Alpinist variants.

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Instead of the alternating Arabic numeral and index hour markers, the SPB117 has all cone-shaped index hour markers. This gives the watch a cleaner and more consistent look. This model also comes with a stainless steel bracelet that perfectly complements the silver and black theme of the watch.

The stainless steel bracelet has Oyster-style links and is thinner than the one used on the older models. The bracelet also comes with a micro-adjustment feature for better fitting. The stainless steel bracelet comes at a premium though, because the SPB117 is more expensive by $20 relative to the other two Alpinist models.

The new Seiko Alpinist has a Seiko 23-jewel calibre 6R35 automatic movement that boasts a whopping 70-hour power reserve. It runs on 26,000bph which is similar to the old movement used in the first-gen Seiko Alpinist models.

The calibre features Diashock protection and has a Diaflex mainspring. These components make the watch extra sturdy to withstand bumps and drops without affecting the reliability.

Points About The Seiko Alpinist

Here are some points to consider that will help you decide whether you should buy the Seiko Alpinist or not.

Price

The Seiko Alpinist is priced around $400 to $800, depending on the variant and stock availability of the seller. For the price point, the Alpinist is quite expensive, considering its features are a bit basic. However, take note that Seiko stepped up the components and used more premium materials like a sapphire crystal to give the new Alpinist a posher look.

Size

The Seiko Alpinist measures and weighs just right that it can be worn by both men and women. Thanks to the thinner links (and leather strap alternatives), the overall weight of the watch has been greatly reduced.

Water-resistance

Despite its casual look, the Seiko Alpinist is designed to withstand underwater pressure up to 200 meters. It’s weird for a ‘hiking’ watch to have this kind of water-resistance rating, but this just improves the watch’s versatility.

FAQs About Seiko Alpinist

How long is the warranty for the watch?

You can enjoy a three-year warranty for Seiko Alpinist watches. It’s recommended also to have your watch serviced every 3 years to ensure all of its components are working as expected.

How do I configure the compass?

The extra crown on the 4 o’clock position of the Seiko Alpinist is designed for setting the compass. It has a good locking mechanism, so it won’t turn loose while swinging your arms.

Will the leather strap survive underwater?

This is oddly one of those common questions that may not seem obvious at first. Short answer, NO, The leather strap will get ruined if submerged underwater. If you’ll be using the Seiko Alpinist for swimming or plan to go diving then replace the straps first with NATO, rubber or my preference would be the Alpinist stainless steel strap.

Seiko Alpinist Review

Conclusion

For the Seiko Alpinist’s mid-range price of $500, it can be hard to justify what part of the watch is worth buying. It has all the basic functions needed by mountaineers and professional divers though, making the watch more versatile than expected.

If you want to add the Seiko Alpinist to your collection, then purchase this revamped model by any means. However, if you’re looking for an affordable beater watch that you can wear anywhere and anytime, you might want to look for more affordable options.

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