Back to my regular programming.
There are watches that I have flipped without a second glance, and watches that I have bought, sold, bought, sold… The watch that I’m writing about today belongs to the latter.
Perhaps it was a blog post that should have be done way back in 2012 when I first bought this watch. It was my first brand new 6R15, JDM Seiko, bought a few months after I bought my 4S15 SAGN001. However the Seiko 4S bug caught on and I lost sight of this watch. I eventually sold it to a personal friend who was just getting into watches in 2014, and then I bought another example of this same model again sometime in late 2015, having been reminded about this timelessly elegant watch when a Bangkok colleague of mine was discussing about his intent to get this very same watch when he was having holidays in Japan.
One observation that I recalled very clearly and illustrated what was “special” about this model was the usage of green and gold. Unlike the typical white/silver or black/silver combination of dress watches, the use of green/gold retains a tint of elegance, while showcasing its restrained intent to be somewhat different.
Another recent example which Seiko again showcased the green/gold combination to good effect in my opinion was the Thai market Sumo SPB013.
Alongside the Sumo and MM300/Tuna, this Seiko Alpinist is probably one of the most popular and well known modern Seikos still available in the market today. This model was released in 2006, on the cusp of the rapidly expanding popularity of Seiko online. Being one of the most affordable Japan Domestic Models (JDM) certainly adds to its appeal. To date, this model is also one of the longest running models still in the market today, being produced uninterrupted for 10 years this year.
Due to this, it is fitting that much has been written about the history of the entire Alpinist line (which is the second longest running sub-brand under Seiko). A brief history of the Alpinist can be found in this blog by Seiya and reproduced by Yeoman here, written when the 6R models were first introduced. One of the most extensive coverage of the history of the Alpinist lineage can be found here, aptly named the “Ultimate Seiko Alpinist Collector’s Guide”. Having done my duty to direct readers to other more well-researched articles on the history of the Alpinist, let’s proceed to my hands-on review of this model.
Dial & Hands
A trademark of the alpinist is the Mercedes hour hand paired with the even arabic numbers on a iridescent sunburst green dial. The front crystal is sapphire, providing excellent scratch resistance.
The Seiko branding and hour markers looks applied, however I have seen a forum post long ago (which I have since lost, would be grateful if someone can point me to it) where the dial was revealed to have been stamped from the back. This is probably a cost saving measure from Seiko. Nevertheless the paint job is excellent, and I would have thought the markers and all to have been applied if I did not know otherwise.
Unlike most other Seiko watches in its price bracket, the date wheel utilised here uses a white font printed on a black background, blending in well with the dark green dial. An improvement would have been to place it at the 6 o’clock position. Another subtle detail that many wearers would not have noticed is that the date window is framed by a matching gold border as well, in line with the hands and hour markers.
A compromise made for this sporty dress watch is not luming the hour markers but providing lume dots at each 5 minute marker. Glow as a diver it does not, but it will suffice for you to tell the agonisingly slow passage of time in a darkened boardroom attending a routine review of yet another deck of powerpoint slides.
In contrast, the hour and minute hands are partially skeletonised before extending outwards to needle tips.
The hour hand is reminiscent of the Mercedes logo, which provides plenty of room for generous quantity of lume to be applied.
The minute hand adopts a sword shape, before tapering off to a needle tip, while the “blade” of the minute hand similarly lends itself well to the application of lume.
The seconds hand is not skeletonised, but rather has a counter balance of a soft rounded diamond, matched by a larger diamond at its long end, which is also lumed. Similarly, the seconds hands ends off at a needle point.
The dial is completed by 3 simple lines at the 6 o’clock position, proclaiming its automatic movement, diashock system and water resistance. Similar to all other Seiko watches, the movement and reference number is printed in small print on either side of the 6 o’clock marker.
As a side note, Seiko produces many Divers’ 200M watches, but relatively few 200M WR watches. This Alpinist and the Landmasters are 2 such models which are 200M WR, yet not Divers’ 200M.
Certainly a suitable watch for a diver who finds himself needing to put on a tuxedo for an evening out.
Crown & Case
The alpinist comes with two crowns, similar to the SUS GMT 4S12 I reviewed recently. In comparison, to the SUS, the second crown turns a compass rotating bezel. In all fairness, I would have preferred if Seiko removed this feature all together so that the Alpinist has a cleaner design as the compass feature is all but useless except for the most hard core of adventurers who do not have a real compass on hand and also do not live near the equator.
The main crown at 3 o’clock is signed with “S” while the secondary crown is not signed but dimpled inwards. Interestingly, the main crown screws down, but the secondary crown is not. Yet another feature of a sports watch found in this seemingly dressy Seiko.
The case design/finishing of the Alpinist hits way above its price bracket, yet sadly this is not captured well in the marketing material of Seiko (as usual).
In the picture above, you can observe at the lugs, where the brushed front of the lug intersects nicely with the curved sides of the case, with a polished chamfer at the very edge leading all the way down the side.
Turning to the side of the case, the side is not merely rounded, but there is a distinctive break between the “upper” side of the case to the bezel and the “lower” side of the case to the caseback. This is a similar approach to how the MM300 case looks, but adopts a much much softer delineation between the two planes.
This model comes with a solid caseback, with the traditional alpinist mountain logo engraved on it.
The 6R15 is a refinement of the basic 7S/4R movement, upping the beat rate to 6bps and using SPRON 510 mainspring to provide more than 50 hours of power. Daily accuracy is +25/-15sec a day.
The 6R15 is also available to third parties in the guise of the NE15.
It is certainly not as refined as the long gone 4S (please do not confuse this with the newer but basic 4R movements), nor the top end 8L/9S movement but it certainly gets the job done at a price acceptable to consumers.
Tradition paired with elegance and substance is what attracted me to the Alpinist.
With this watch, you are buying into the long heritage of Seiko watches which is versatile enough to accompany you from the boardroom to the ends of the earth should you choose to venture there.