It was in 1959 that Seiko’s first Alpinist watch was introduced to meet the needs of mountain climbers and recreational field sports enthusiasts. From the start, it was well received and, over the ensuing decades, its reputation spread far beyond the Japanese market for which it was first intended. Remarkably, it was the first Seiko watch ever produced with sports in mind and it blazed a trail that led to the development of many landmark timepieces and timing devices for sports, from stopwatches to diver’s watches, in the decades that followed.
While its core character has remained unchanged, its design has evolved over time. Today, the first Alpinist watch from 1959 is re-born in a re-creation that has the high functionality that characterizes the Prospex collection, whose very existence owes so much to the first 1959 Alpinist.
Born in 1959 as the Seiko Laurel Alpinist, this watch was a new departure for Seiko and marked its entry into the sports watch arena. It had a screw-back case to prevent dust or sand particles from entering the case. It had a sturdy leather cuff band to protect the watch from perspiration. The indexes and the hour and minute hands all had luminous inserts ensuring high legibility in the dark and the name Alpinist was evoked in the mountain-shaped markers at the three, six, nine, and twelve o’clock positions.
These four clearly differentiated markers represented the four main points on a compass and, with the specially designed marker at twelve o’clock, allowed the time to be read safely and correctly at any angle. This was a feature that became central to the design of many subsequent Seiko sports watches and remains so still today.
The re-creation brings the 1959 Alpinist back to life in every detail. The generously sized markers are, as before, set against a black gloss dial. White minute markers form an inner ring on the dial base, just as on the original. Of course, the indexes and the hour and minute hands are coated with Lumibrite for legibility in the dark.
The glass is a box-shaped sapphire crystal that re-creates the gentle feel of the original watch’s characteristic domed glass. The watch is presented on a leather strap that has the same jagged stitch design as its predecessor.
While the re-creation is faithful to the original design, it has been brought right up to date in technology and has the high specifications and functionality for which Prospex is renowned. It now incorporates a date window between four and five o’clock and is water resistant to 10 bar. The box-shaped sapphire crystal is treated with an anti-reflective coating on the inner surface, delivering high legibility.
From the first diver’s watch released in 1965, Seiko has been exceeding expectations for divers with its innovative technology. A timepiece that guides you through the challenges in the deep blue.
Here is an interesting history of the Alpinist written by The Spring Bar
• automatic caliber 6L35 with manual winding capacity
• 26 jewels
• 45 hour power reserve (approximate)
• date function
• stop second hand
• stainless steel case
• screw case back
• screw-down crown
• see-through case back
• curved sapphire crystal
• green dial with Lumibrite on cathedral hands
• calfskin strap
• water resistant to 200 metres
• diameter: 36.6 mm height: 11.1 mm
• LIMITED EDITION on the case back