In order to celebrate the 110th anniversary of its first-ever wristwatch, the all-important 1913 Laurel, Seiko is releasing today a series of watches from the Presage, Prospex, Astron, and 5 Sports collections. All with designs that mirror that of the Laurel to varying degrees, these are evocations of the past and not faithful re-editions such as the SPB359. One of the models that caught our attention, the reference SPB409, is a new limited edition based on the freshly presented and long-awaited mechanical GMT Alpinist (released last week), revamped with a retro and toolish inspiration.
Part of the Prospex (professional specifications) collection, the Alpinist is one of the most praised models from Seiko. Born in the late 1950s as an instrument for Japanese mountaineers, the Seiko Alpinist is mostly known under its modern shape, as introduced in 1995. A robust and rather unique watch, it was equipped with a secondary crown and a rotating inner compass bezel. Somehow a cult model, the so-called Red Alpinist (due to the red mark on the dial) has been available in various editions, including a dual-time version. However, never in the shape of a mechanical GMT watch, as the only existing traveller’s edition was a titanium perpetual calendar (the SBCJ0xx series) powered by a quartz movement. The 2023 Prospex collection solves this “issue” with the release last week of two mechanical GMT Alpinist watches, the references SPB377 and SPB379… And a third one today, with the limited edition SPB409.
What we’re looking at is a watch that falls directly into the classic style of the Alpinist collection, yet slightly modernized. This means a relatively compact case of 39.5mm in diameter, with a very decent 46.4mm length. It’s not the thinnest, however, but it fits well on most wrists. The overall look is undoubtedly that of an Alpinist, with a well-protected screw-down crown, a secondary crown at 4 o’clock and, new to this GMT model, a fixed bezel with a 24-hour scale. The Limited Edition SPB409 is, like the standard models, made of steel with super-hard coating, showing a combination of brushed and polished surfaces. It’s also a tough watch, with a sapphire crystal on top and a solid 200m water-resistance. This version is worn on a steel bracelet with super-hard coating, closed by a folding clasp. An additional leather strap with its own folding clasp is also included.
For its mechanical GMT Alpinist, Seiko has slightly revised the dial compared to previous editions with a time-only display. While it still features a combination of Arabic numerals and triangular markers, these have been enlarged, designed in a sharper way and positioned at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, not only enhancing legibility but also bringing a more modern vibe. The hands are still classically shaped, in a cathedral style. What makes this limited edition special is the use of a silver-toned brushed dial, with dark-coated markers and blue-coloured hands. All 4 hands are coated with Lumibrite and a date takes place at 4:30 on the dial, without the usual magnifier. An important element of the Alpinist, the dial of this SPB409 is framed by an inner rotating bezel with a compass scale, actuated by the additional crown.
Inside the case is the Calibre 6R54. This in-house automatic movement benefits from recent upgrades in the 6R family, with a 72-hour power reserve. The integration of the dual-time function is done in a so-called office style, meaning that it’s the GMT hand that can be independently adjusted, and not the local hour hand like in a flyer’s GMT. The movement can be seen through a transparent back.
Available in 3,000 pieces as of October 2023, the Seiko Prospex Alpinist GMT Limited Edition SPB409 will be priced at EUR 1,500. For more information, please visit seikowatches.com.