Introducing the Seiko Alpinist SPB201J1, a European Exclusive with a New Gray Dial

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The Seiko Alpinist is a favorite among enthusiasts for its history, value, and very specific brand of rugged elegance that isn’t particularly common elsewhere in the Seiko lineup. Seiko has been refreshing the Alpinist line over the last year with updated Prospex badged models, and a line of more minimal, smaller versions of the Alpinist without the iconic compass bezel. The latest Alpinist, a European exclusive release, presents the full size Alpinist in a gray colorway inspired by a mountain sunset. 

Image via Fratello
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For a watch called the Alpinist, gray seems like a natural color choice, so it’s a bit surprising we haven’t seen a variant quite like this before. I don’t know about you, but when I think of the type of mountain setting that Seiko wants us to conjure with the Alpinist range, snow capped peaks with gray skies come to mind, and that seems like the tone Seiko is going for in this release. The SPB201J1, in addition to its matte gray dial, features accents of red, white, and silver, all of which are meant to evoke the “sunset” theme. Regardless of the natural phenomenon that pops into your head when you wear this watch (if any at all), I think the colorway absolutely works, particularly in the way the numerals and hour markers pop against the gray background of the dial. The red accents on the compass bezel provide just enough contrast to be functional and lend some visual interest whether you make use of the watch’s orienteering capabilities or not. Simply put, this is just a very attractive dial with all elements coming together in a coherent way, and the simple matte finish is a welcome change from the more complex sunray and gradient dials that we’ve seen on recent Aplinist releases. 

Image via Fratello

Other than the new gray dial, this is very much the same modern Alpinist that has been on the market for about a year now. It has a date window with magnifier at 3:00, the already mentioned internal rotating compass bezel, and Seiko’s Caliber 6R35 beating away inside. The case remains 39.5mm in diameter with a height of 13.2mm, and a lug to lug measurement of 46.4mm. This watch has been a compact wearing experience, making it easy to wear in a wide variety of active situations, very much like a traditional field watch. With 200 meters of water resistance it’s robust enough for just about anything, but with highly polished surfaces and cathedral style hands, the Alpinist has an heir of refinement to it that doesn’t scream “outdoor watch.” 

Image via Fratello

As mentioned above, this is a European exclusive release, and it’s also limited to 2,021 pieces. The first small batch was made available for pre-order exclusively through our friends at Fratello, with more becoming available through European market channels soon. The retail price is €790. More information can be found here.

Header image courtesy Fratello

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.
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