Seiko introduced a new caliber back in March via their Prospex GMT Diver collection, adding caller GMT functionality into the brand’s well understood contemporary dive watch platform. Those watches have generated quite a bit of chatter in the watch community, with many singing their praises with respect to overall fit, finish, and wearability, and others wishing for a more functional flyer GMT complication. While the dust might still be settling, Seiko marches on, with the latest crop of watches to feature their still new 6R54 GMT movement. This time, Seiko brings the movement to the Alpinist family, which seems like a natural place for a GMT equipped watch to land. It takes what has always been cast as an explorer’s watch (with its signature compass bezel) and gives it a modern, practical, mechanical complication for a different kind of exploration.
I’ve always been a pretty big fan of the Alpinist for many of the reasons Blake identifies in his Missed Review. There’s something charmingly anachronistic about wearing a watch designed with such an old fashioned aesthetic (those cathedral hands, especially) but built to modern sports watch standards. With a GMT complication added, the Alpinist retains a lot (maybe all) of that old fashioned charm, just slightly tweaked. The Explorer-style steel 24 hour bezel gives these watches a clean and sporty look, and we still get the trademark handset and those big numerals (just at the cardinal positions here, rather than even numbered hours of prior Alpinists). The GMT hand is prominently featured, a large red arrow that extends all the way to the dial’s perimeter, which still features a compass controlled by a crown on the right case flank. A circular date window at 4:30 is about as unobtrusive as possible. The watch is available in two variants, one with a black dial (SPB379), and the other in blue (SPB377).
The stainless steel case comes in at 39.5mm, and has been given Seiko’s “super-hard coating” treatment to protect against scratches. In profile (see the gallery below), the lugs appear to have a fairly sharp downward curve that we expect will cut down on the total lug-to-lug measurement, making a watch that looks to be on the thicker side a bit more wearable (we don’t have exact measurements of the case height and length at press time). The divers issued earlier this year had a somewhat modest 12.8mm case height, but that’s a measurement that feels very different on a dive watch than it will on a smaller piece in the style of the Alpinist, if indeed the measurements are similar. Regardless, the new Alpinist GMTs are water resistant to 200 meters, so a chunkier case might simply be the byproduct of a watch with more robust specs.
The 6R54 movement has a power reserve of 72 hours running at 21,600vph. As mentioned above, it’s a caller style GMT, which I’d normally say is less than preferable in a travel watch. I have to admit, though, the execution of the jumpable GMT hand here could make it workable to use to read local time if you’re traveling and comfortable with a 24 hour scale. It just really stands out, especially on the black dialed watch, and is the first dial feature my eye is drawn to. It’s still totally usable in the traditional “caller” sense, of course, but there is perhaps more versatility here than in a typical GMT with this type of movement.
The new Seiko Alpinist GMTs each carry a retail price of $1,150. More information via Seiko right here.