Seiko consistently goes above and beyond in delivering iconic timepieces that surpass expectations. The Seiko Alpinist collection, true to its name, offers a range of rigid sports watches originally designed as reliable tools for Japanese mountain climbers. Besides, they still embody the same spirit today. Don't mistake it for a bulky, outdated watch from the 1960s. Seiko has released a series of modern reinterpretations of the Alpinist with 21st-century designs that bring elegance while retaining its historical significance.

Read more: Guide To The Best Seiko Watches

Taking You Back To When It Started

The Seiko Alpinist has its roots dating back to 1959, when the first Alpinist, known as the Laurel Alpinist, met the world. This watch was exclusively made for the Japanese referred to as Yama-Otoko or mountain men who were mountain enthusiasts. The Laurel Alpinist featured easily readable luminous hands and a waterproof screw-down case back. Also, its display was well-protected by domed acrylic glass, ensuring durability against dust and small debris.

Despite its non-sporty appearance, the Laurel Alpinist had this robust Seikosha manual movement. It proudly featured Diashock shock protection and 17 jewels. Besides, this movement offered impressive accuracy and shock resistance for its time. The launch of the Laurel Alpinist marked Seiko's entry into the sports watch market, setting the stage for the creation of various iconic timepieces. That included sports timers, stopwatches, and diver's watches.

Seiko never stopped meeting the needs of mountain climbers who braved challenging terrains for leisure and work. They introduced an enhanced version of the Alpinist in 1963, known as the Alpinist Champion. This watch was a redesign of the Laurel Alpinist and featured a centred dial in a light colour surrounded by a darker border. Also, it included square-shaped, applied hour markers for added functionality.

Read more: Exploring The World Of Seiko Watch On Bijoux Eclore

A Comeback In The 90s!

After a hiatus from 1963 to 1992, the Alpinist came back with the introduction of the Red Alpinist under the Prospex line. This revival garnered significant popularity due to its unique features. Unlike its predecessors, the watch featured a fresh dial design with luminous cathedral hands.

  • Instead of acrylic glass, it now sported Sapphlex, a mineral glass with a layer of sapphire, providing proper durability.
  • One notable addition was the rotatable bezel adorned with compass markings, aiding mountain climbers in navigating open terrain. Depending on your hemisphere, any timepiece can help determine north or south. But Seiko took it a step further with the Alpinist, allowing wearers to accurately read other approximate compass directions on the dial.
  • Additionally, a date display sat neatly under a magnifying lens at 3 o'clock.
  • The Red Alpinist was powered by the highly regarded Seiko 4S15 Hi-Beat automatic movement, offering hacking and hand-winding capabilities.

Fans affectionately dubbed it the "Red Alpinist" due to the red "Alpinist" inscription just above 6 o'clock. Moreover, this model was released with three dial colour options:

  • Black
  • Cream
  • Emerald green

Read more: Best Seiko Watches

How the Compass Bezel Works?

It quickly became a defining characteristic of the watch over the past 20+ years. After all, the compass serves a practical purpose and possesses the unique charm that Seiko is acknowledged for. However, using it requires some guidance to make sense of it.

First and foremost, it's essential to understand that this isn't a magnetic compass. Rather this relies on the position of the Sun relative to you, which necessitates knowing two pieces of information:

  • Your hemisphere (Northern or Southern)
  • Whether it's AM or PM when using the compass

Northern Hemisphere

If you're in the Northern Hemisphere during AM hours:

  • Begin by keeping the watch level and aligning the watch's hour hand with the direction of the Sun.
  • Then, turn the crown at four o'clock clockwise to rotate the inner bezel until the South marker sits midway between 12 o'clock and the current hour hand position. Further, it allows you to roughly determine the cardinal directions.

If you're in the Northern Hemisphere during PM hours, follow the same steps as above. The difference? Turn the four o'clock crown counterclockwise to align the South marker between 12 o'clock and the current hour hand position.

Southern Hemisphere

For those in the Southern Hemisphere during AM hours:

  • Maintain a level watch and point the 12 o'clock marker towards the Sun.
  • Next, turn the four o'clock crown counterclockwise to position the North marker between 12 o'clock and the current hour hand position (which represents the current time). Besides, it lets you roughly determine cardinal directions.

If you find yourself in the Southern Hemisphere during PM hours:

  • Keep the watch level
  • Align the 12 o'clock marker with the Sun's direction
  • Then turn the four o'clock crown clockwise to align the North marker between 12 o'clock and the current hour hand position.

It may sound a bit complex, but with practice, it becomes quite effortless.

Read more: Seiko Prospex SSC909P1

The Modern Versions

The reaction to the reissue of the Alpinist has prompted the brand to embrace this trend. They have introduced several new variations that pay homage to different historical versions of the watch. Apart from the 1990s-inspired design, there are simpler models available that do not feature the inner rotating compass bezel. In fact, they are harking back to Alpinist designs from as early as 1959. Additionally, there are:

  • Smaller
  • More vintage-inspired
  • Dossier

In 2020, a new addition to the Alpinist family emerged. The Baby Alpinist came in three variants (SPB155, SPB157, SPB159) without the traditional internal compass bezel. Additionally, this omission resulted in a cleaner dial appearance. The removal of the extra crown at 4 o'clock and the crown guards also contributed to a reduction in case size. Besides, fans of the Seiko Prospex in Canada were delighted to find that these versions were a compact 38 mm in size with a lug-to-lug measurement of 46 mm.

Further, these Baby Alpinists had several distinct aspects, including:

  • A domed sapphire crystal
  • A red accent on the second hand
  • The absence of a date magnifier
  • A gradient dial design, and printed numerals/indices.

This design set them apart from the traditional Alpinists. It also offered a fresh take on the classic Alpinist style.

Read more: How To Clean Your Watch

A Great (Non-Formal) Everyday Watch

Yes, Seiko Prospex Alpinist primarily targets collectors and watch lovers in Canada. However, it can easily serve as a satisfying choice for someone who wears the same watch day in and day out. At its core, the Alpinist is an outdoor watch designed for various activities - from swimming and diving - with its 200m water resistance rating to:

  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Mountain climbing

All thanks to its compass bezel!

Although the Alpinist may not fit a formal dress code, it remains versatile and incorporates some stylish elements reminiscent of dress or pilot watches. Additionally, this gives it a more captivating appeal than a plain and utilitarian tool watch. So, naturally, it also becomes one of the best Seiko watches.

Read more: Grand Seiko ‘katana’ Collection

The Bracelet Is Something Everyone Should Talk About

Seiko enthusiasts who recall the less-than-stellar folding clasps of Seiko watches from the past will be delighted to discover the robust and satisfying version of the SPB117. This bracelet has a solid three-link design. Further, it is entirely brushed with a practical and durable texture, maintaining a consistent width from the 20mm lugs right up to the clasp.

The broad bracelet plays a significant role in making the Alpinist appear more prominent than its 39.5mm diameter might imply. Another contributing factor is its thickness, measuring approximately 13mm. This gives it a noticeable presence. This added thickness imparts a bolder and more masculine feel. But Seiko has mastered the proportions and ergonomics, with a lug-to-lug distance that gives a comfortable fit on wrists of various sizes.

Read more: Seiko Watches In Canada

Strong Finishing and Specs at a Competitive Price

The Alpinist impresses with its remarkable finishing and specifications, especially considering its price point. Additionally, this attention to detail enhances the overall user experience. Watches in this collection have a number of noteworthy features, including an anti-reflective-coated sapphire crystal. It reduces glare. Also, it gives users a display case back, a rarity among dive watches with similar water resistance. This provides a view of Seiko's relatively new and improved automatic movement, setting it apart from many long-standing Swiss movements with a typical 40-hour power reserve (though this landscape is evolving).

This means you can switch to another watch for a couple of days and return to find the Alpinist still ticking away. Besides, it's a feature that certainly fetches value to the timepiece and is hard to find fault with.

Read more: 8 Best Seiko Watches

Is the Seiko Alpinist Right for You?

The primary reason to consider a Seiko Alpinist is if you intend to utilize its built-in features. The Seiko Alpinist stands out due to its distinct personality and rich history. In addition to its unique position within Seiko's diverse lineup, the Alpinist boasts unconventional yet subtle and precious designs that are challenging to find replicated elsewhere.

This timepiece possesses character and a narrative. Absolutely a compelling choice for nearly everyone! Also, it occupies a distinctive niche within Seiko's extensive collection, featuring design elements not found in other models and holding significance as the brand's inaugural sports watch line.

Moreover, the Alpinist has undergone transformations to become a more elegant and modern piece. It has borrowed elements from contemporary dress and pilot watches to infuse a touch of modernity.

Read more: Luxury Watch Brands

The List Of Watches Released Under Seiko Prospex

The additional features that remain constant throughout the collection

  • 'Cyclops' date display at 3 o'clock
  • Rotating compass inner ring
  • See-through case back
  • Screw-down crown
  • Stop second hand function

Seiko Prospex Alpinist SPB117J1

The Alpinist SPB117J1 also referred to as Ref. SBDC087 is probably the most classically styled among its counterparts. It’s with a black dial and a stainless steel bracelet, taking inspiration from the 2006 'Sharks Tooth' Alpinist model, the SARB015.

Moreover, the older SARB015 model has the automatic 6R15 movement, offering a 50-hour power reserve. Yet, the new Seiko Prospex Alpinist SPB117J1 houses Seiko's latest engine, the Calibre 6R35. This automatic movement features:

  • 24 jewels
  • An impressive 70-hour power reserve

The iconic matte-black dial showcases the Alpinist baton with applied 'shark's tooth' indexes and minute numerals. Additionally, the more durable sapphire crystal is an essential upgrade. It completes a magnifying 'cyclops' at 3 o'clock for the date display.


  • Case: 39.5mm stainless steel (13.2mm thick)
  • Movement: Automatic hand-winding Calibre 6R35
  • Power Reserve: 70 hours
  • Water Resistance: 200 meters
  • Accuracy: +25 to -15 seconds per day
  • Crystal: Sapphire with a magnifier and anti-reflective coating
  • Dial: Black with Lumibrite hands and indexes
  • Strap: Stainless steel

Seiko Prospex Alpinist SPB119J1

A watch that could effortlessly double as a dress watch, the new Alpinist SPB119J1 is a refined masterpiece. It comes with its:

  • Vintage-inspired beige dial
  • A black calfskin leather strap

Similar to its counterpart, the SPB117J1 model, has the upgraded Calibre 6R35 automatic movement. The beige-cream dial showcases applied hour markers and features a cathedral-style handset. The enhanced Cyclops date window remains discreetly positioned at 3 o'clock.

It's worth noting that in these new models, the Prospex "X" logo takes the place of the words "Diashock 23 jewels" at 6 o'clock. It indicates their inclusion in the Seiko Prospex collection.


  • Case: 39.5mm stainless steel (3.2mm thick)
  • Movement: Automatic hand-winding Calibre 6R35
  • Power Reserve: 70 hours
  • Water Resistance: 200 meters
  • Accuracy: +25 to -15 seconds per day
  • Crystal: Sapphire with a magnifier and anti-reflective coating
  • Dial: Beige with Lumibrite hands and indexes
  • Strap: Black calfskin leather

Seiko Prospex Alpinist SPB121J1

The model that has garnered considerable excitement, is the new Alpinist SPB121J1, also referred to as Ref. SBDC091. It’s the rebirth of the beloved Green Alpinist SARB017 that retains the same moss green dial, housed within a 39.5mm stainless steel case. Also, it’s paired with a sleek brown leather strap.

Notable differences include:

  • The adoption of the new automatic movement
  • The presence of a Cyclops date window
  • A see-through case back, among other minor alterations.

However, the watch maintains its impressive 200m water resistance.


  • Case: 39.5mm stainless steel (3.2mm thick)
  • Movement: Automatic hand-winding Calibre 6R35
  • Power Reserve: 70 hours
  • Water Resistance: 200 meters
  • Accuracy: +25 to -15 seconds per day
  • Crystal: Sapphire with a magnifier and anti-reflective coating
  • Dial: Green with Lumibrite hands and indexes
  • Strap: Brown calfskin leather

Read more: Why Luxury Watches For Men Make The Best Father’s Day Gifts!

Seiko Prospex Alpinist SPB123J1

Introducing a fresh interpretation of the Alpinist, the SPB123J1 model, also known as Ref. SBDC093. It gives you a moss-green calfskin leather strap that goes beautifully with the stainless steel case and a beige dial. The addition of gold-tone baton-style hour markers and hands provides a splendid contrast against the cream-coloured dial.

Much like the preceding three models, the Alpinist SPB123J1 is powered by the Calibre 6R35 automatic movement. Additionally, it proudly maintains a water resistance rating of up to 200 meters.


  • Case: 39.5mm stainless steel (3.2mm thick)
  • Movement: Automatic hand-winding Calibre 6R35
  • Power Reserve: 70 hours
  • Water Resistance: 200 meters
  • Accuracy: +25 to -15 seconds per day
  • Crystal: Sapphire with a magnifier and anti-reflective coating
  • Dial: Beige with Lumibrite hands and indexes
  • Strap: Green calfskin leather

Read more: Best Seiko Watches In Canada For Men And Women


The Seiko Alpinist is the right pick for you if you intend to make use of its distinctive features and appreciate its rich history and character. Whether you're a collector or simply seeking a dependable everyday companion, the Alpinist offers a compelling choice within Seiko's extensive lineup.

But it only serves you right if you buy such amazing timepieces from an authorized retailer that is equally trustworthy.

Explore Bijoux Eclore’s website and know you’ll find what you’re looking for!