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Seiko Alpinist SARB017: History & Model Review

Seiko Alpinist SARB017: History & Model Review

Steve Powell
  • Alpinist is beautiful, classical, odd and a work of art.
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The Seiko Alpinist SARB017 is a high-end Japanese-made men’s wristwatch with a stainless-steel case and a durable leather wrist band. It has an extremely accurate automatic movement with up to 50 hours of stored power and a hand-winding feature to fall back on. With a luxurious hunter green face, golden hands, and a golden dial, this watch is an eye-catching timepiece you can wear in both professional and casual atmospheres.

History of the Seiko Alpinist SARB017

The Seiko Alpinist SARB017 is manufactured by the Seiko Holdings Company. This 138-year-old company was founded by a young Japanese entrepreneur named Kintaro Hattori. Hattori’s legacy began with simple wall clocks, but quickly expanded into revolutionary wristwatches and other innovative gadgets.

Seiko Alpinist SARB017 Seiko Alpinist SARB017
  • Automatic Movement with 50-hour Power Reserve
  • Sapphire Crystal and Inner Rotating Compass Ring
  • Water resistant 200m (660ft)
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Watch Industry Pioneer

In fact, Seiko Holdings is known as a ground-breaking pioneer in the watch industry. It developed the first Japan’s wristwatch, the first quartz wristwatch, and the first GPS solar watch. Still, those innovations are only a small sampling of Seiko’s century-long repertoire of innovations.

The Alpinist naming is referred to Japanese recreational mountain tourism. In Japanese culture it was kind of weekend activity, sightseeing local peaks and a nature. As for such tourism and followed “Yamaotoko” (“Mountain man”) audience Seiko made a sub-brand named “Alpinist” as a most accurate translation.

First Aplinist model was produced back in 1961 as a part of Laurel line. The Laurel itself (manufactured from 1913) was a top line for a company named Seikosha (modern day Seiko). Laurel was amongh first in the world to have an enamel dial and a balance node produce by the company itself.

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The cream colored dial features a date calendar, and LumiBrite hands and markers. Visible through the see-through case back, the 23-jewel automatic movement has both manual and automatic winding capabilities and beats at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour, with a power reserve of approximately 50 hours. 100M (10 bar) Water Resistant
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They had quite a simple 17-jewels caliber with manual winding. There were two colors for the dial: black and white, plus a special wrist band with model name on the back side. The backplate was also quite simple.

The next Alpinist model moved to a Champion sport line. This model production started in 1963. They received an interesting, sectioned white dial.

Coming next Champion 850 model had a 24-hours marking and a funny “Rain Proof” inscription on a backplate. There was also a gold Alpinist produced in 1964 (ref. 85899, as for 5-numbers ref codes for that days). The backplate was also updated with the mountains engravings.

All of the produced Alpinists were sold during the next couple of years and the series was actually reborn in 1985 in a Prospex line. They also came on a well-proven 4S15 caliber. Straight from the award-winning King Seiko models (today’s Grand Seiko). Worth to mention that it was King Seiko first to strike a “swiss-made” watch market with the highest precision of that time, taking out every first place on such competitions held by Neuchatel Observatory. The dominance was so big that they stopped precision competition in the following years.

The role of the observatories in assessing the accuracy of mechanical timepieces was instrumental in driving the mechanical watchmaking industry toward higher and higher levels of accuracy. As a result, today high quality mechanical watch movements have an extremely high degree of accuracy.

4S15 caliber was working at 28.800 bhp (21600 in standard Japanese movements of that time). Back then first solar compass appeared and a branded watch hand slightly resembling the famous Mercedes-Rolex hand. Sapplex glass was used with sapphire-coated mineral glass and a small cyclops lens above the date. Dial colors: beige, green and black. Several years in production they became “most-wanted” in any collection even for today. If you see one available in a like-new condition for a good price – make a deal.

In 2003 first quartz Alpinists were born: Seiko SBCJ021 and SBCJ019. They had a high-precision caliber 8F56, which worked with a frequency of 196,609. Thanks to the mechanism, the clock had a perpetual calendar and the GMT function. With a lithium battery, they could work up to 10 years without any service. The titanium case had a water resistance of 10 ATM while the bracelet was also made of titanium. These models were available with a black and cream dial with illumination.

Next generation was introduced in 2006 with the 6R15 caliber inside. References range SARB013, SARB015, and SARB017, known as “Green Alpinist”. That’s the same model we see nowadays. Most of the watch enthusiasts agree that 6R15 is kind of downgrade from the previous movements, even the power serve is raised up to 50 hours. But frequency numbers and caliber precision dropped. So, 6R15 is actually an improved version of 7S26. Seiko did a great job with it, but what enthusiasts would like to see inside is actually something like 6R20.

In late 2018 Seiko dealer, Seiya Japan recently announced that Seiko SARB017 “Alpinist” will be discontinued after a solid 12-year run. 

The Global Timers

With a global reputation for excellence in timing, Seiko’s watches have made their way into professional sports. In fact, they are the official timer of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAFF). As such, Seiko watches are used to time professional gymnastics meets, marathons, skating competitions, and much more.

Fashion

Not only that, but Seiko watches have become a symbol of success and style. In fact, many celebrities, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sandra Bullock, and even James Bond, have been seen wearing them. Wondering what makes them so special? Read along to learn more about one of their most popular models, the Seiko Alpinist SARB017.

Seiko Alpinist SARB017 Features

The first Seiko Alpinist wristwatch was released in 1961. As such, it is one of Seiko Holding oldest wristwatches. Since its original phase, the Alpinist has been re-released six times. Over the years, the company has played around with its image, changing its colors, features, and design. With that said, its unique appearance is easy to pinpoint in a lineup of men’s wristwatches.

  • Manufacturer: Seiko Holdings Company
  • Caliber: 6R15
  • Make: Alpinist SARB017
  • Gender: Men’s
  • Case Material: Polished Stainless Steel
  • Crystal: Scratch-Resistant Sapphire Glass
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power Reserve: 50 hours
  • Water Resistant: 200 meters
  • Case Diameter: 38 millimeters
  • Display Metric: Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Bezel: Adjustable Compass
  • Band: Crocodile Brown Leather
  • Band Material: Calfskin
  • Band Size: Standard (between 7 3/4 inches and 9 1/2 inches)
  • Hands: LumiBrite
  • Markers: LumiBrite
  • Face: Green
  • Exhibition Window: Clear
  • Crown: Screw-Down
  • Hand Color: Gold
  • Jewels: 23
  • Winding Capabilities: Automatic and Manual
  • Frequency: 21,600 vibrations per hour
  • Impact Shocks: DiaShocks
  • Case Shape: Round
  • Case Diameter: 39.5 millimeters
  • Case Thickness: 12 millimeters
  • Display: Analog
  • Weight: 2.4 ounces
  • Lugs: Tapered
  • Closure: Buckle
  • Dial Markers: Arabic Numerals for Even-Number Hours and Gold Triangle Markers for Odd-Number Hours
  • Additional Display: Day Window

Design, Materials and Movement Type

 Priced at over $500, the Seiko Alpinist SARB017 has several features that are worth noting. In the section below, you’ll find important information about the Alpinist’s design, materials, and movement.


6R15 Movement

Overall Aesthetics

The first thing you’ll notice about the Seiko Alpinist SARB017 is its aesthetic design. The watch features a combination of high-quality materials with stunning details and stylish colors. For starters, this timepiece has an expertly crafted brushed stainless-steel case with tapered pegs and two recessed screw-in stainless-steel crowns. A closer look reveals a hunter green faceplate with luxurious gold details.

Impressive gold cathedral bands with gold frames and silver inlays are the two more show-stoppers on this magnificent timepiece. Meanwhile, bold Arabic even-number hour markers add a user-friendly yet luxurious touch. Alternating golden odd-number strip markers provide adequate juxtaposition without overcrowding the watch’s face.

A Logo and Display Location

A golden Seiko logo is written in all caps along the top center of the face. Meanwhile, the words, “Automatic DiaShock 23 Jewels, 20BAR,” are written in alternating fonts across the bottom center of the watch face. The clock’s country of origin, Japan, and its movement type, 6R1S, are written along the circumference of the bottom of left of the watch face. Meanwhile, “OOH1 R 2” is written on the bottom right. There is also a small date display window located directly to the left of the 3 o’clock dial marker.

Bezel Look and Functions

Topping of the case, the Seiko Alpinist SARB017 has a bi-directional bezel with navigational markers. The compass bezel is black with white markers. Nearly overshadowed by the Seiko Alpinist SARB017’s stainless-steel case frame, the bezel looks sleek and professional.

Case

The Seiko Alpinist SARB017’s case is made of a combination of extremely durable scratch-resistant brushed and polished stainless steel. It has a muted silver color that reflects a good amount of light. What’s more, the watch’s face features an extremely durable scratch-resistant sapphire crystal window that provides a clear view of the watch’s green face and gorgeous golden dial.

The sapphire crystal has a curved shape that helps strengthen the look of its refined timepiece. In fact, its body flows perfectly next to the outwardly curved steel bezel.

The Style of a Dial

The aforementioned dial features alternating gold Arabic (even numbers) and arrow (odd numbers) markers. There are also small subticks (five between each hour) indicating the minutes and seconds. As such, the dial is extremely eas-to-read. On top of that, gorgeous gold and silver cathedral-style hands indicate the hours, minutes, and seconds with refined precision. Meanwhile, a detailed navigational bezel frames the dial. With extremely detailed black and white metrics, the bezel offers military-like precious for watch wearers with impressive navigational goals. One look at this element, and it is easy to see how this timepiece got its mountaineer-inspired name. It’s worth noting that the dial’s green color changes its appearance when it is exposed to varying lighting conditions.

Hands Appearance

A closer look at the watch’s cathedral-style hands reveals intricate details you’d rarely see in outdoor equipment. Each hand has a wide body that tapers into a fine luminous point that provides a precise indication of the time. The hour hand has a bulbous tip with a Y-shaped design embossed in the middle. Meanwhile, the minute hand is tall and lanky. Finally, the second hand is needle-thin with a small bulbous teardrop tip that mimics the hour hand. While extremely decorative and detailed, the hands’ small stature and expert coordination surprisingly help to fine-tune a user’s focus.

Screw Crowns Specific

The Alpinist has two recessed screw crowns. The one located at 4 o’clock position is screwed very close to the face. This crown can be used to adjust the position of compass bezel. Meanwhile, the crown located at the 3 o’clock position is less recessed. It can be used to adjust the position of date display.

Variety of Symbols and Logos

The case has a diameter of 38 millimeters with a thickness of 1 millimeter. In fact, it’s about the average size of a men’s watch. It has a screw-on brushed stainless-steel exhibition window in the back. What’s more, its polished stainless steel lugs are 20 millimeters wide, making it compatible with a wide range of aftermarket replacement bands. The rear panel is engraved with several important manufacturing specs. In addition, it reads, “MADE IN JAPAN.” It also boasts an engraved Seiko logo and Alpinist logo in the center. The logo features a series of mountains inside a circular frame.

While the combination of text, numbers, and symbols may seem cluttered, this is not the case. In fact, the watch’s face looks classy and consistent. Not to mention, it is extremely easy-to-read. A combination of unique elements is what gives this clock a one-of-a-kind look that guarantees to garner admirers.

Durability

It’s important to note that the Seiko Alpinist SARB017’s case is exceptionally durable and water-resistant. In fact, it can be submerged as deep as 200 meters. As such, it’s well-suited for below-the-surface water recreation. However, it is not ideal for diving.

Band

Another pivotal part of the Seiko Alpinist SARB017, this watch’s brown leather strap, makes a bold a classy statement. With a classic crocodile-like texture and a moderate sheen, the calfskin band is great for everything from special occasions to casual outings. On top of that, the leather band is extremely soft and flexible. As such, it is one of Seiko’s most comfortable timepieces.

The band has a common buckle clasp. This adjustable closure is made of a stainless-steel pin that fits into a series of holes cut in the leather band and is then locked in place with a stainless-steel clasp. The closure is adjustable, easy-to-use, and reliable. Still, some Seiko Alpinist SARB017 owners opt to replace their original bands with aftermarket fabric, leather, and metal alternatives.

Wearability

While most consumers look for a watch that’s stylish, accurate, and comfortable, many overlook a watch’s wearability. This includes a watch’s potential to interfere with the world around it. For example, some metal watch bands have a tendency to snag arm airs in their seams, making for an extremely uncomfortable experience. What’s more, some watches have very thick cases that are easily snagged on furniture and other objects.

We find the Seiko Alpinist SARB017 to be extremely easy-to-wear. Its rounded crystal face and smooth steel bezel fail to snag on furniture and other objects. What’s more, its soft leather band is extremely comfortable. As such, it does not interfere with our ability to function normally.

Bezel

A major element that sets the Seiko Alpinist SARB017 apart from other luxury watches is its impressive navigational bezel. While the watch features a traditional polished steel outer bezel, it also boasts a rotatable inner bezel with a functioning compass. The navigational bezel is black with easy-to-read letter abbreviations and stick markers along the entire circumference. It offers eight directional metrics, including North, Northeast, East, Southeast, South, Southwest, West, and Northwest. What’s more, it boasts white tick marks every 10 degrees. In common compass fashion, the “N” is red, while all the other directional markers are white.

It’s important to note that the ticks and letters on the navigational bezel are quite small. With that said, this helps disguise this overtly functional outdoor watch as a sophisticated piece of jewelry. In fact, we’d say that Seiko has managed to balance the best of both worlds in typical Seiko-like fashion.

Lumes

The Alpinist is extremely easy-to-read in dim light. There is a small luminous marker located at every hour tick. Not to mention, the hour, minute, and second hands are embossed in a luminous material too. Whether you take this watch high onto the moonlit tip of a mountain or a few hundred feet under the ocean, you’ll have no trouble checking the time.

See Also

Movement Type

 The Seiko Alpinist SARB017 has a 6R15 movement, which was released in 2006. Ever since then, it has been a mainstay in the company’s higher-end wristwatch models. The 6R15 is an automatic watch movement with a special hand winding feature.

The Seiko 6R15 is found in several other upper-midrange watch models, including Seiko’s Laurel tribute, Cocktail Time, Presage, and Field Master models. It has a 27.4-millimeter diameter and a 5.32-millimeter height. On top of that, it features 23 jewels and a Diashock system for reduced vibrations.

Great Power Storage

The 6R15 features a Spron 510 mainspring, which is well-known for its impressive power storage, which maxes out around 50 hours. The watch boasts two pinions, allowing users to easily hack the automatic timekeeping system.

Impressive Precision

It’s worth noting that the 6R15 beats an impressive 21,600 times per minute. Not only that, but it enables easy hacking and hand winding. Not to mention, it has a hearty power reserve for length outdoor adventures.

What’s more, the 6R15 is known for its fraction-of-a-second precision. In fact, its time accuracy is within 3.3 seconds per day. This watch has mesmerizingly smooth ticks.

Newer Model

The Seiko 6R15 is the predecessor of the Seiko 7S26. Of course, this popular watch movement predates the Alpinist’s movement by around 10 years. Unlike the 6R15, the 7S26 cannot be neither hand-wound nor hacked. (имеет ли смысл, если всего пару слов?)

General Impression

 Overall, the Seiko Alpinist SARB017 has an original and timeless look. Not to mention, it performs excellently, providing extremely accurate time, date, and directional readings. From the watches brushed/polished stainless steel case to its crocodile calfskin band, Seiko has left no detail untouched.

What We Love

 There’s no denying the craftsmanship and design of this timeless timepiece. The combination of a soft brown leather band and a sunburst green faceplate perfectly juxtaposes the polished chrome and gold details that make up the dial. The same goes for the alternating fonts and geometric dial ticks. While few outdoor watches could pull off luxurious cathedral hands and brushed gold lettering, the Alpinist does it with incredible style.

We also love this timepiece’s impressive movement. In fact, we’ve been hard-pressed to find a wristwatch with a heartier power reserve. What’s more, we love that this watch has an automatic movement that can be manually wound or hacked. This military-level precision enables users to sync their watches with a highly accurate timepiece, such as the atomic clock. By pulling the crown up, you can easily set your timepiece to the precise second of your choosing.

While the Alpinists’ automatic feature is extremely convenient, the option to hand-wind the movement enables users to power up their watches without wearing them day after day. As such, Alpinist owners get the best of both worlds. Of course, if you are torn between these two types of movements, as many watch enthusiasts are, then the Alpinist is an undeniably sound middle ground.

What We Dislike

 We found it difficult to pinpoint something we didn’t like about the Seiko Alpinist SARB017, as this watch has everything we could want in a mid-range outdoor timepiece. But, with that said, we’re sure that some people will question its overall look. The combination of silver, brown, and green materials is stunning to most. However, the crocodile-print leather band lacks the modern-flare that many young consumers are so keen on attaining.

With that said, its signature old-fashioned band shouldn’t be enough to deter you from this impressive wristwatch. After all, you can easily change the leather band with an aftermarket replacement. Just remember, it should coordinate well with sunburst green and stainless steel.

Alternatives

 If the Seiko Alpinist SARB017 doesn’t suit your current budget, then be sure to check out the following alternatives. These affordable watches have many of the same features as the Alpinist has with more budget-friendly price tags.

The BOLDR Explorer is a lovely outdoor watch with a stainless steel case and black faceplate. What’s more, it has black canvas straps for exceptional comfort the whole day through. While the Explorer’s water resistance barely compares to the Alpinist’s, it has a nice tactical look that fits the high-altitude lifestyle. Not to mention, it costs about half the price of the Seiko.

If you want a similar watch within the Seiko line, the SSC081 is also a viable alternative. This solar-powered Japanese outdoor adventure watch features a black compass dial that is very similar to the Alpinist’s. It has a dark brown leather band and a stainless steel case. Like the Alpinist, it is also water-resistant at extreme depths.

With that said, the SSC081 is much sportier than the Alpinist. In fact, it has bold luminous Arabic hour markers. What’s more, it has a black face with high-contrast print and tick. Compared to the Alpinist, the SSC081 looks a bit cluttered. Still, it has similar functions for a fraction of the price.

Final Thoughts

 If you’re looking for a mid-range wristwatch that will upgrade your wardrobe while providing tactical feedback for your outdoor adventures, the Seiko Alpinist SARB017 is a great option. This Japanese-made watch offers incredible automatic readings while offering users the option to manually fine-tune its time. It also has dual automatic and hand-wound movements, enabling users to get continuous power regardless of their wearing frequency. If that’s not enough to have you curious about this incredible gadget, its design should be. After all, how many silver, green, brown, and gold watches have you seen in your life? While the Alpinist’s unique color combination may seem over-the-top, it is a truly sophisticated and simple timekeeper.

Pros

The Alpinist features the hacking and hand winding 6R15 movement.

An unusual color combination of green and gold that gives it a vintage vibe.

Internal rotating compass.

Very accurate, it's running like -0.2s per day.

Cons

A cheap stap you should replace.

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