The SARB017 or more known as the Alpinist is one of the most commonly recommended 6R15 automatic from Seiko. It gained a huge following overtime due to the less common dial and hands colour combination, a commendable water resistance, price and screw down crown.
The Alpinist is measured at 39.5mm than the advertised 38mm. Shocking yes, but a user in watchuseek measured it and it is 39.5mm. Despite this, it’s still neither overly large and feels small enough to be worn by small wristers like myself. It’s also made in stainless steel with a mixed of brushed and polished surfaces.
The Alpinist houses an 6R15. This is an upgraded version of the 7S26 with hand-winding and hacking. This is the same movement used in the SARB033. Seiko advertises the movement as having an accuracy of -15/+25, but this is mostly because it’s giving itself some leeway. Some people have reported better accuracy and I can vouch for that. For the duration I have owned this, I can report a +4 to +5 s/d on a full wind. You can find more information about the 6R15 in the caliber corner website.
The strap is terrible. It feels very plastic, stiff and tough that it makes it look like it came straight from AliExpress. One of my first recommendation is sourcing another strap or purchasing a metal bracelet from Strapcode. Personally, I have mine on a Blushark Alphashark NATO strap.
What made me fall in love with the Alpinist are as follows:
- Colour combinations – The green dial, applied gold indices, white minute and second hand markers all blends up together quite well. If you do pair it it with the original strap, you get very earthy colours of brown, green and gold. The white is to have it neutral.
- Hands – This was my first watch that features cathedral hands. Some people don’t like it, but in my opinion it adds to the uniqueness of the timepiece.
- Case size – As mentioned above, 39.5mm is just perfect for modern times. The thickness is only 12mm and is just right.
- Functionalities – The added hand-winding and hacking is a nice improvement from the old predecessor of the movement. A screwed down crown gives an improve water resistance of 200m. However, I am not sure how true this is. The second crown used to operate the compass is not screwed down like the main crown.
Should I get this or the new SPB121J?
Despite being older, discontinued and superseded, the SARB017 is still a recommendable watch if it can be found for a good price. However, the Alpinist is being purchased now as a collectible and prices have been going up since.
Some people also prefer this over the new model as you get that very classic lettering over the Prospex “X” logo. The new model is also more expensive which will make some people think twice. However, there are added benefits with the new model such as a longer power reserve of 70 hours, but the advertised accuracy of the 6R35 movement is the same as the 6R15.
If you’re after the appeal of the classic, then the old Alpinist will serve you well. On the other hand, if you’re not into the aesthetics and want the upgraded movement, the new Alpinist will be better suited for you.