This year is set to be a big one for Seiko, as the brand celebrates their 140th anniversary. They’ve got a ton of new watches in the works, and as you’d expect they’re paying particular attention to historical lines and calling attention to the anniversary with some thoughtful limited editions. One of the most pleasant developments in this initial batch of Seiko announcements is a renewed and serious focus on the Alpinist, taking the full history of the product line into account in a way that we haven’t really seen before. If your only experience with the Alpinist is the modern incarnation of the watch with colorful dial options and a prominent compass bezel, this year’s releases might surprise you.
Seiko’s approach with the Alpinist this year seems to be borrowed from the release strategy of some of their key dive watches in recent years. At one end of the pricing spectrum, they’re releasing a limited edition “Re-creation” of the original version of the Alpinist that is clearly geared toward the collector’s market, and at the other end are more consumer friendly “Re-interpretations” that are quite a bit more affordable and are essentially modernized versions of historic references. (Think of the SLA037 and SPB149 releases last year and you’ll get an idea of what Seiko is doing). The re-creation, reference SJE085, is a remarkably faithful rendition of the original watch from 1959, down to the bund style strap and glossy black dial, while the three modern versions of the Alpinist that Seiko previewed maintain the general aesthetic of the original mountaineering watch but with modern touches that anyone familiar with contemporary Seiko will recognize.