The Seiko Alpinist SPB155J1, SPB157J1, SPB159J1
and a sneak peek at the Seiko Prospex Alpinist SPB199J1.
Browsing the 2020 Seiko catalog, you'll find out that the Prospex diving watch collection is the most popular. However, Prospex isn't synonymous with watches for diving professionals any longer since it includes two other product lines collecting timepieces designed for land and air exploration. The truth is that Prospex stands for Professional Specification; to this class of products belongs the reference SARB017, a watch appreciated on either side of the oceans, whose commercial name, the Seiko Alpinist, has turned to Seiko Prospex Alpinist, thus disappointing the brand's die-hard fans who're hating the "X" logo on the dial.
The SARB017 reference is a kind of a collector's piece; most Seiko collectors, including those who belong to our Club, own an Alpinist. The new one, the Seiko Prospex Alpinist SPB199J1, is a 2020-piece limited edition timepiece exclusively available in Europe and aims to replicate the original green dialed option's stunning success, given its market price exceeds the actual listed price. It mimics the SARB017's layout, that of a three-hander with date, and a sliding inner compass operated via a second crown placed at four, complementing the traditional screwed-in winding crown. The new Prospex Alpinist SPB199J1 offers a 200-meter waterproofness, comes in at 39,5mm across, is protected by a sapphire crystal, and is powered by Seiko's caliber 6R35, boasting 70 hours of maximum power reserve. The Seiko purists, undersigned included, can't get over the magnifying lens placed atop the date window; it affects the original design as much as it did when applied to the lovely Seiko Prospex King Turtle too.
The Seiko Alpinist Limited Edition also welcomes a new product offering, coming in three dial options, and positioned slightly below the Alpinist line up. They're usually referred to as Seiko Mini Alpinist or Seiko Baby Alpinist, first and foremost for their size, stopping at 38mm other than a sleeker, and no-frill and less-professional-looking style. The compass has been removed, while the green, blue or black smoked dial has replaced the single-tone unique option. Please welcome the Seiko Alpinist SPB155J1, SPB157J1, SPB159J1; take a note and save the product references. The new timepieces are, therefore, not replacing but extending the Seiko Alpinist collection instead. They add to the standard Alpinist collection globally, which already includes the Seiko Alpinist references SPB117J1, SPB119J1, SPB121J1, and SPB123J1. Seiko is offering its customers a more compelling proposition; if you're looking for a reasonably-sized and stripped-to-the-bone sports watch in steel, the 2020 new Seiko Alpinist is an excellent option equally for him and her.
The Mini Alpinist is 38mm large, the dial is pure (and the crown has no protectors), and the three smoked dials are more than enough to make it a classic sports watch, primarily in the full steel option, although the bracelet design is all but original. Each dial color comes with a grained finish, cream-colored Arabic numerals offering a vintage patina effect, and elongated cathedral hands. The whole package looks familiar and appealing and offers good perceived and build quality at first glance. I like designers adding a cream-colored ring around the date window; it makes everything feel more compelling considering how different the fonts are from each other. Although not enjoying the steel bracelet option, I cannot deny its build quality is top-notch. Additionally, the folding clasp comes standard with two safety push-piece buttons. Count me in for the blue or black leather strap instead, as seen on the SPB157J1 and SPB159J1, respectively. The strap is exquisitely crafted, is super soft, and the folding clasp they're coming with fastens the watch onto your wrist without pinching it at all.
Conversely, I can't understand why Seiko is offering the Seiko Alpinist SPB155J1 exclusively on a bracelet. However, you can swap options as per your liking. If I had to pick my favorite, I would undoubtedly go for the SPB157J1, which I like the most. Like the Alpinist Limited Edition mentioned above, the new Mini Alpinist is powered by the 6R35 caliber. The new Seiko Alpinist SPB155J1, SPB157J1, SPB159J1 retail for 710 Euros, and 690 Euros (the two options with a strap), respectively. It's a fair price for a timepiece whose quality and sturdiness are unquestionable. The smoked dials are more than welcome; they add character to a mainstream design geared towards expanding the audience and grab new customers, who'll appreciate a 12,9mm thickness. Instead, if you are more into the original Alpinist mood, bear in mind the limited edition SPB199J1 for Europe retails for 880 Euros and comes in a particular package, including a beige nylon replacement strap.
(Photo credit: Marco Antinori for Horbiter®)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®