For the hardcore Seiko fans, the Seiko Alpinist needs no introduction. However, don’t be misled by the title because this post will not be about that Alpinist, even though there were a few extensions to that collection last year. Today, however, we will be talking about the modern re-creation and re-interpretation of the lesser-known Seiko Laurel Alpinist.
The Laurel Alpinist may be relatively unknown to modern fans of Seiko but in vintage circles, the watch is highly sought after. The Alpinist was first created back in 1959 and as you could probably guess from the name, was made to cater to amateur mountaineers, which apparently was quite a popular hobby in Japan at the time.
According to Seiko, this Laurel Alpinist was the first-ever Seiko watch to be produced with sports in mind and arguably was the piece that eventually led them to create dive watches. So I guess you could say, it was the starting point for what is known today as their Prospex line.
Just as they have done for quite a few of their historic pieces, Seiko offers two variations of the Laurel Alpinist in the modern form. The first is a watch that tries its best to be as identical as possible to the original, while the second is a modern reinterpretation of the original watch’s design language.
The Re-Creation SJE085
The SJE085 tries its best to be as close to the original as possible, even offering a leather strap with the same jagged stitch as found on its predecessor and a similar leather cuff as well. The modern additions to the watch, however, come in the form of the Caliber 6L35 which has a power reserve of 45 hours and a date function that now sits at the 4 o’clock position. These additions have unfortunately increased the thickness of the watch by 1mm. The case diameter is 36.6mm.
This SJE085 will be a limited edition of only 1,959 pieces and can be found in Seiko boutiques starting August 2021.
The Re-Interpretation SPB241, SPB243, SPB245
This to me is the more interesting of the two new models based on the Laurel Alpinist. The SPB24X still pays homage to the original with the three mountain-shaped indicators at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock and even comes with the same style of hands. It’s great that Seiko decided to keep the case size to a more manageable 38mm and looks pretty great when combined with stainless steel bracelets.
The watch is powered by the calibre 6R35 movement which offers a power reserve of 70 hours and I like the addition of the date window at 3 o’clock on these watches making it even more compelling as a daily beater.