So welcome to my review the Seiko Alpinist SPB1971J. I have owned many Seiko watches in the past, but at present this is my only one. I have a love hate relationship with the brand, you see, I love some of their designs, but have previously got fed up with their poor QC issues and poor value for money. Even though I love the watch I am reviewing today, I know it is overpriced for what it is. Fortunately the aesthetics have always stopped me from even considering selling it. That said, if the average micro brand produced the same design I am sure it would cost half as much and quite possibly be spec'd higher.
Firstly the dimensions then. Whilst the case measures in at 39.5mm it wears more like a 38mm and conforms beautifully to the wrist. The lug width is a pleasing 20mm, and whilst it appears thinner, it is actually 13mm deep. The lug to lug is a compact 46mm which is complimented by the bracelet's female end links. Once adjusted to fit my 17cm wrist the watch weighs in at 136 grams. The watch arrived in a rather ordinary and disappointing cardboard box with a cushion. Considering the value of the watch I don't consider that particularly impressive.
The case is very nicely shaped, and the overall standard of finishing is excellent, but with an original full selling price of about £700, so it should be. The tops of the lugs are vertically brushed whilst the rounded sides are finely polished. It almost goes without saying the watch is constructed of 316L stainless steel. Flip the watch over and there is an exhibition case back, but Seiko decided to save the money on a sapphire back and used mineral crystal instead. Whilst the case has crown guards for the main crown, it doesn't for the crown that operates the internal compass, which incidentally turns at will due to the fact it doesn't screw down or have much resistance.
The main crown is about 6mm, screws down for the watches 200m water resistance, isn't signed (that's terrible Seiko), operates the movement perfectly, and engages perfectly, although not buttery smooth like a Christopher Ward for example. Inside the watch is Seiko's own movement, the 6R35, which in reality is an NH35 with a power reserve of 70 hours. I would much have preferred a higher beat movement with a lesser power reserve, but perhaps that's just me. It ticks away at 21600bph, hacks, hand winds, and is of course very reliable. Even with constant wear I would expect the watch not to have to be serviced for ten years or so. I bought the watch almost new and in mint condition, but unfortunately felt the need to regulate it. It was running at about +23 spd, which I found unacceptable. I have now set it at about +8/9 spd dial up, which I know from experience makes the movement pretty spot on with normal every day wear.
The watch with it's stunning mountain glacier dial is absolutely stunning, and in my opinion far nicer than the more common green dial. Of course, I appreciate this is down to personal taste, but I also like the black version very much, and have previously had half an eye open for a baby Alpinist in that colourway. The chrome indices sit just below very well lumed markers, with a date window at the three. Unfortunately Seiko decided to include a Cyclops, something I am not a great fan of. Below the 12.00 it simply reads SEIKO (applied), and above the 6.00 there is an “X” with automatic and 20 bar printed on. The flat crystal of course is made of sapphire, with evidence of a little AR coating, however the Cyclops is constructed of mineral crystal.
The Oyster style bracelet is comfortable and reasonably well made, although isn't a show stopper. It tapers down from 20mm to 16mm then back up to 17mm for the clasp. The tops are satin brushed, whilst the sides are polished. The solid end links fit well to the case, but adjustment is made using push pins rather than screw pins. The clasp is functional but disappointing. It is half milled, has double pushers, but only two micro adjustments. I managed to get a good fit, but fear not everyone else may.
In summary, this watch is all about it's impressive appearance and overall finishing, not specification or value for money. I suppose if you know that before you spend your money you have no right to complain. The one pictured is actually the second addition reissue, which has upset the people who bought the first addition on the belief the colourway was a one off. In actual fact this particular colour was originally only meant for the European market, but I believe it's popularity encouraged Seiko to produce more for the rest of the word. At least buyers of the original one got a posher box, albeit they paid a premium for the privilege. So should you buy one? Well, I am afraid it's one of those watches some people may argue should be in every enthusiasts collection, a bit like the Seagull 1963. Only you can make the decision, but I would strongly recommend you look around for a well priced used one in good condition. Thanks for rading this review, and perhaps you may want to look up my YouTube video. Watch Alot