Seiko Alpinist SARB017 Review - A Classic Worth Owning

Seiko have produced a lot of watches over the decades and surprisingly, quite a few of them have become classics. You might have heard of the Pepsi Dive watch or the Sumo, and maybe you even know the Seiko Alpinist.

In this review we are going to take a look at the latest version of the Seiko Alpinist, and help you decide if it’s worth parting with your cash for.

First, I will go over the most popular SARB017 (green) model, but also cover some of the lesser known but still stunning models you can get online.

The Current Alpinist Style

In many ways, the Seiko Alpinist is a classic. It has been through a number of iterations since it’s first release in 1961, with the 2006 version being the latest one. Some of the versions were quite a bit different to this one, with either a cyclops lens, titanium case, or in some cases even a quartz movement.

Seiko have now settled on an even more likeable version that screams class with every feature. Starting with the green face featuring gold hands and markers, it is not a watch for the sportsman. The crocodile leather strap makes it even more classic looking, as does the addition of the compass ring.

I will break down all these features below, but you can see why this timeless piece is still a big seller for Seiko.

Seiko Men's Stainless Steel Japanese-Automatic Watch with Leather Calfskin Strap, Brown, 20 (Model: SARB017)

The SARB017 Face

The deep green face with the gold hands and markers puts the Alpinist in a classic genre that some watch lovers enjoy, while others hate it.

The hands are quite a statement with the thick and round hour hand and long thick minute. The gold works well with the green face and there is a very generous lume on the hands and markers, which is Seiko quality so works wonders in the dark.

The standard day window at 3 o’clock is nothing to write home about, but the outside marker rings are. There are two. The hour markers, with numerals at every 2 hours. And around that is a more fine marker system to work with the compass bezel. On the outside, there is the brushed steel of the bezel as well, which ties in nicely with the rest of the case and the lugs.

All in all, this watch is a unique standout that anyone would be proud to own. And to top it all off, the sapphire crystal is a nice piece of glass to cover the dial with!

Seiko SARB017 Alpinist face

Image Courtesy of Michael Pollack

Size & Weight

Overall, this is a mid-sized watch at 39.5mm and only 12mm thick. Of course, being an automatic movement it will never be as thin as a quartz and should still slide under a dress short without any major hitches.

Being a stainless steel case with such a complex movement, it is never going to be light. But at just 2.4oz, I think Seiko have done a great job of keeping this to a decent weight while still maintaining the look and waterproofing integrity necessary.

The Features

You know this has Seiko’s top-notch 6R15, which is not only automatic with 50 hours or reserve, but also self-winding and hacking. For a sub thousand dollar watch, that is an impressive accomplishment.

There is a standard date window at 3 o’clock,  which I have already said above is nothing worth spending time on.

The 200m water-resistance is however quite a big deal for a non-dive watch. 

The bezel is meant to be used in combination with the hands and the sun to help you navigate. Whether you ever use it for that is to be seen. But, it is a classy and unique addition and can be turned via the second crown at 4 o’clock. Some people have even been known to use this as a second timezone like a GMT watch of sorts.

The Specifications

For those who want to see the full specs in all their glory, here they are below:

  • Case size: 39.5mm diameter, 12mm thick
  • Case material: Stainless steel with see-through back
  • Movement: Seiko 6R15 caliber automatic/manual winding (with 50hr reserve)
  • Crystal: Sapphire coated with anit-scratch material
  • Waterproof: 200m / 20 bar
  • Strap: Crocodile patterned brown calf's leather strap
  • Features: Date window at 3 o'clock, rotating compass ring
  • Weight: 2.4 oz (68g)

The Current Alpinist Color Variations (SARB013, SARB015)

The SARB017 is the most popular and perhaps outstanding because of its green dial. Everyone knows, loves and buys it.

But, Seiko has taken the Alpinist and made quite a few models that are also worthy of your time.

SARB013 Alpinist

The next most common is the cream dial SARB013. The hour markers are again gold, which works stunningly well with the cream dial. The outer ring for the compass matches in inner dial, unlike the SARB017 which is darker. And the color of the date is black on white, which again suits the color scheme of the watch very well.

seiko sarb013 alpinist cream

 

SARB015 Alpinist

A far more difficult model to find, because it had a very limited run, is the SARB015 in black.

This model takes all the same design elements as the others in this range, but puts a little spin on a few things. There are no arabic numerasl on the hour markers. Instead it is all alpinist style sharp triangles

The dial, outer ring and date are all black, but the date has been moved to 4 o’clock instead of the standard 3 o’clock on the other models.

To add to its uniqueness, they have also given the hands a sportier look using sharp tapered triangles that are lumed on the bottom portion. The second hand remains the same shape, but is red, matching the accents on the compass ring.

 

seiko sarb015 alpinist black

Is the Seiko Alpinist For You?

The Seiko Alpinist is a classic dress watch that you could still buy today and use for decades to come.

It’s sharp green and gold colors scream class and the feature set (automatic, 200m water resistance, date & compass) are top notch for this kind of price. The only minor drawback most reviewers have noted about this watch is the strap is not the best, so many end up replacing it. (You can either go for metal or another leather, or nato/perlon. It does not have to be a big problem or cost a lot to replace.

In the end, this watch is a timeless collection piece you will love.